Levitation photos is a type of trick photography that has seen a recent boost in popularity. Many people around the world are now forming photography clubs, workshops, and meet ups dedicated levitation photos. The rise of social media has made it extremely easy for us to share our photographic creations instantly with anyone around the world, so everyone with a camera are starting to join in this fun new endeavor.
In levitation photography, the challenge is to snap pictures that makes people looks as if they can defy gravity, levitate, or float effortlessly. The results are often surreal, beautiful, funny, and even poignant. All you need is a willing human model and a fast shutter speed. More complex levitation shots are usually done with a little bit of digital manipulation in software, as some pose are impossible to achieve without some hidden support. Here are some tips for getting great levitation shots.
Details matter a lot
The biggest challenge is to create the impression that the model is really levitating. Pay careful attention to the face, feet, clothes, hair, and other small clues that suggests a jump. Flowing clothes like a scarf or skirt can really add to the effect if done right. Some of the clever tricks involve using pins and other apparatus to keep the hair and clothes neat and tidy in mid-jump. You can also emphasize the effect by creating contrast with the background. If you feature a floating person in between a crowd of ordinary ground-based people, this makes the effect that extra special. Remove any blurring that might suggest motion by using a fast shutter speed, somewhere in the region of 1/500 of a second or faster.
Baffle them with weird poses
It helps if your model is athletic and can pull off odd poses in mid-air. The more unusual the pose, the harder it is to figure out how it was done. The trick photographer can accentuate this further by finding good and artistic angles. If you want them to look like they’re flying high, get as low as possible with the camera. Imagine if you could craft a levitation photo of someone floating perfectly horizontal a few inches above a lake with no visible sign of support. The effect will leave people puzzled as to how it’s done, thus reinforcing that wonderful floating feeling. A great example of using unorthodox poses is Li Wei, a Chinese performance artist who creates incredible photos of himself flying and floating in an urban environment, reportedly risking life and limb. You don’t have to go so far, but getting a bit creative will definitely improve your shots.
Be prepared to sweat
Don’t be satisfied with just one shot, repeat it as many times as possible to get the shot where everything is perfect. Natsumi Hayashi, a serial levitator of YowaYowaCamera fame reportedly does upwards of 300 jumps just to get that perfect shot. Each of her session could last as short as 10 minutes to more than an hour. Plan out the shot beforehand and make sure to have good communication between photographer and model. You wouldn’t want to tire out your model unnecessarily.
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