If you’re like most people, you might have dreamed of flying and floating around in the air effortlessly. Some people have dreams of flying around in the living room or the house they live in, while others might travel vast distances and visit other cities, countries, or even outer space. That feeling of freedom is alluring to all of us. Some of us dream about it, some of us go out and build airplanes, and some of us recreate that feeling with trick photography.
Levitation photos are a kind of trick photography that usually depicts people and objects floating in the air. They defy the force of gravity with no real explanation on what is keeping them up. It looks and feels magical to the observer, and leaves you wondering, “How did they create these photos?”
The truth is that most levitation photography are created and digitally manipulated using photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop. You can create really stunning levitation pictures with advanced Photoshop skills and plenty of creative imagination. But there are also people out there who create this kind of trick photography in-camera. The levitation effect is achieved in real-life without resorting to digital cut and paste. Just like being told that no trick photography is used in a great magic trick shown on television, there is a certain sense of curiosity and amazement when one is told that a levitation photo is done without Photoshop.
Spoiler alert. The simplest way to levitate in a photograph is to jump, fall, or hide the elements that are holding up the levitating person or object. How convincing your levitation photography is depends on your execution. So here are some levitation trick photography ideas you can try at home or outdoors!
Minimize motion blur
You need to make sure there are no motion blur on the levitating subject that can spoil the illusion, unless you want it there for an artistic expression. Depending on your camera, set a high shutter speed or sports mode to freeze your jumps. Use a tripod to steady your camera as well. Some cameras can be triggered with a wireless remote control, which will help you tremendously if you’re attempting it alone. Otherwise you can set the self-timer and get in position.
This is somewhat common but looks really cool to those who haven’t seen it before. The idea is to pose in a way that looks very ordinary and relaxed in mid-jump. It looks like it doesn’t take any effort, and you don’t even notice you’re doing it. Try to fit the pose to the correct location, like standing and waiting at a bus stop with other people. Everyone else is standing on solid ground, except you.
How unusual your pose really depends on your physical body dexterity, if you still commit to doing it in-camera. Unless you can hide the props that are holding you up from the camera view, you’ll need to remove it digitally later. The more outrageous the pose you could pull off, the more surreal the levitation looks. If you happen to have friends in gymnastics, Parkour, or breakdancing then you could ask them to pull off some moves for you.
Use props to enhance the effect
A lot of levitation and trick photography include the use of props. Levitation pictures done with Photoshop often include other levitating elements like clothing and shoes. These are digitally inserted or tinkered with to enhance the effect. This doesn’t stop us from trying to insert it in-camera as well. When you’re jumping, you can ask someone outside the field of view of the camera to toss shoes below your bare feet. With luck and proper timing, the pictures looks as though your shoes are coming off your feet as you rise into the air. Another idea is to hang the objects in the air with a very thin and transparent string. Think outside of the box, and you can come up with neat ideas to fit props into your picture.
Having fun and experimenting is the best way towards trick photography mastery. You will get great ideas popping up in your head when you actually go out and take levitation photos of yourself and your friends. There are no limits on creativity, and everyone has their own unique view of the world around them. This practically guarantees that we will continue to be amazed and surprised by clever new levitation photos taken by other people. So go out there and share your contribution!
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