Levitation Tutorial: How to make your friends fly
It’s surprising how different levitation shots and shoots can be. My most recent shoot has been a breeze compared to the last one and I think the main reason for that is that it was done outside. Having the freedom to set up however we liked and not having to plug in lights made life much much easier. Having said that, the changing light – thank you so much British Summer – has made the final editing process more of a challenge.
As before, the levitation was done by propping the model up on everyday household objects. In this case it was 2 stools which Katherine carried across Newcastle and into Heaton Park. For some reason we got funny looks. Apparently it’s not every day 2 girls wander around with stools and heavy kit in weird dresses.
After we had taken several shots we moved everything out of the way and shot the background. After that we had beer and food at The Corner House (but you’re not interested in that). To remove Kat from the background a Reveal All Layer Mask is put on the photo and she is painted out. This makes for cleaner lines and is easier to do, and re-do (more to the point), than just erasing. By using layer masks you can go back and clean up mistakes later far easier than you can if you erase as all the information is stored in the .psd file.
The parts of the model that are warped by the props and gravity can be re-formed in Liquify. In this case her calf, and the small of her back where the dress was hanging in an unflattering way. You will also see in this comparison a difference in the lighting. The liquified version also has a high pass filter run through it:
That is the bare bones of the picture. The model is then moved up the picture a little so it looks like she’s floating higher off the ground. A new layer is made for her shadow; a vague shape painted in black using a soft brush with the layer style set to Soft Light.
Shafts of sunlight are added using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, Paint Bucket and Gaussian Blur (set to about 80 pixels) on a Soft Light Layer.
It is really easy to get blind to what you’re doing and it is far easier to just delete a layer than it is to try and recreate what you used to have. You need to take breaks from what you’re doing every now and again; it makes for better art. You can flatten the whole picture and tweak things at the end, but up until that point you should give yourself a get out of jail free card and use the amazing functionality built into Photoshop.
Levitation pictures are easy and fun; go make some.
About erikatanithI am a professional freelance photographer - my main site is www.erikatanithphotography.co.uk. I live in Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK and have a passion for travel, heavy metal and blues music, and have an addiction to chilli which is getting progressively worse. I have my own sense of style which doesn't really fall into any sub-category but as an ex-goth I like to think that I will aways be alternative.