The easiest and simplest way to achieve levitation in a photograph is to ask the subject to jump up as high as they can while you photograph them. But make sure that you have set your speed to a high speed. I find that 1/200 – 1/1000 is sufficient enough to capture the moving subject and freezing them in action. Alternatively, if your camera has a “sports” mode, switch to that mode and the camera will automatically adjust the speed sufficient enough to freeze any movement. If you are struggling to get up to high speeds, you may need to increase your ISO, open up your aperture or increase the light available.
Also don’t forget to switch the focusing to manual, especially when the subject will be jumping towards or away from the camera. This is to prevent any mis-focus as the subject is moving in and out of the depth of field. If you’d like to learn more about manual focusing, please visit our manual focusing tutorial
Throw the object!
If you want to portray a tiny object to appear to float in the air, you can capture the photograph as the object being thrown up. Again, high speed is essential in achieving this photograph. A bit of Photoshop will do the trick! Now, I doubt that you can throw a car up mid-air, so in the next example, you’ll need a bit of help from editing. You will need a photo-software that allows you to stack two layers of photos together, like Photoshop. Let’s go through the steps to create a photograph similar to the one below. So we’ll try to float a model + a car! Before we get into the post process, let’s make sure that the photo-session runs perfectly. Here are the steps to take:
- set up the scene for your photoshoot, but without the model and the car. Just plain background.
- setup the camera and the tripod. Once you are happy with your angle and composition, make sure that the camera won’t shake or wobble.
- introduce the model and the car into the scene. Place the model on a stool, and the car on the crane.
- take a few shots, experiment with different poses. Do not move the camera or change angles, settings, etc.
All done! It’s now time to transfer the files to the computer for processing.
Here are the steps needed to be done in Photoshop:
Take the two photos that you just took, the one with just the background, and the photo with everything in it. Drag the background photo on top of the photo with everything. Now there should be 2 layers. Align them. Lower the opacity of the top layer to around 80%. If you have setup the camera properly, the background should stay sharp, but now the model and the car appeared, along with the stool and the crane. Now comes the tricky part. Place a layer mask on the top layer, and mask out the areas on top of the car and the model, so that they appear sharp. Don’t touch the area with the stool and the crane. Zoom in closer to touch up final details. The more time you spend here, the better the effect will be.
When you are done, turn the opacity back to 100%, flatten the layer, and save. You are done! Well I hope that you have learnt something from this tutorial, and for those who have yet to try this out, I urge you to give it a go! I will leave you with some great levitation photos that hopefully will inspire you and give you great ideas to try out.