*Floating in Photoshop! How to levitate in a photo.

*Wanted to thank everyone who has stopped by to read this post over the last few years. I’ve received quite a few emails and seen links back to this article from many different forums based in many different countries. Thank you! As originally mentioned in the tutorial below, this isn’t a particularly original tactic, but if you put your own spin on it, it can produce some really cool imagery. Okay, on to my original posting, and thank you again for everyone who has stopped by. I’ve been really excited to converse, learn and meet with many of you since I started this blog over three years ago!

Enjoy,

Tyson

This is not an original idea, but so few ideas are anymore. While it may be a well used tactic, it can be very effective. I’ve played around with this technique a few times and it is one that when done decently will almost always get a “wow!” or at least a “huh, wait, what?” It is easy to do as well. It requires Photoshop, or if you are fundamentally against paying $600 for software you can download GIMP. I’ve used Photoshop for this one, so if using GIMP, you will need to translate these steps into GIMP-speak which shouldn’t be too hard.

Okay, our goal is to appear to be floating, or hovering so unless you’re an accomplished zen levitation master, you will need to take two pictures to create the illusion.

You will need:

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Something to stand, sit, lay on
  • Photoshop/GIMP
  • Friends to show off to

Start with a tripod. Frame your scene and get your exposure set. I suggest shooting on your camera’s manual (M) setting so that you’re exposure settings don’t shift from one pic to the next. Also, establish focus for where you will be and disable your auto focus (otherwise you run the risk of the area in focus being different between the two, or more images you may want to take).

Now that you have your exposure set and your camera on the tripod, you want to take a picture of the scene without you or your prop in it. This will be your background image. When you get it composed to where you like it, fire a shot off. Don’t touch the camera other than to set the self timer if you do not have it set up to be remotely triggered.

framing the background image

Next, use a ladder, box, bucket or anything stable enough to hold your weight and set it up in the scene making sure you leave enough room between you and the surface you will be floating above in the image to give the illusion of just hanging there.

a secret revealed

Now you have both your background image and an exact duplicate image with you and the thing that you are going to erase leaving you levitating.

  1. Open both images in Photoshop and with both images open on the desktop, drag the “you” image using the move (V) tool on top of the background image while holding SHIFT which will automatically align the images.
  2. Set the opacity of the “you” layer to about 50% to check that you are lined up. If it is a little off, use the move (V) tool to manually align the two layers as closely as you can.
  3. On the “you” layer, add a layer mask (the hole in a square at the bottom of the layers palate) and using a black brush (B) paint out your prop. For me, as I was outside, I painted everything but me out because the sun came out for the second shot. You are essentially just painting around yourself which will effectively eliminate any evidence that you’re not just really good at holding a gravity defying pose.
  4. Post process after the fact to your heart’s content and viola! You’re floating.

It’s as easy as that! Things to keep in mind are, trying to keep any elements that you will be needing to erase behind you. If they overlap in front of you, it will be tricky to remove. If using lights/strobes keep an eye on shadows cast and make sure to clean those up. Other than that, really it is just a matter of experimentation. Once you have a shot done and feel like sharing, join us and drop it in our flickr group pool HERE! Enjoy!

For future tips, tricks and general photographic articles, sign up to receive them via email above ^ at the top right of the page (I promise not to sell your email address to online viagra pill merchants or Nigerian princes)

More tip and trick tutorials:

Selective color in Black and White

Free Photoshop Contrast Pop Action!

Quick and easy Eye Enhancements for any portrait

Adding an Aged/Vintage Feel to your Photographs

All the best,

Tyson

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31 thoughts on “*Floating in Photoshop! How to levitate in a photo.

  1. Makes for a rather creepy and haunting image. The bricked in pile of wood chips certainly raises the level of strange and mysterious. Wish that were photo-shopped in too and not evidence of a missing maple. It is a surprisingly easy technique – one this greenhorn would even feel comfortable attempting. Thanks for sharing the goods.

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