Who says people can't fly?
We've all done it at one time or another – gazed into the sky wondering what it'd be like to soar like an eagle, watching everything get smaller and smaller below you. Or maybe you dream of what it'd be like to float like a feather on the breeze. It's a shame that we can't, but you can at least make it look like you can with a bit of clever photography!
I achieved this photograph with a combination of the jumping and digital manipulation methods – Copyright Emma Brabrook.
Many of you have no doubt seen levitation photographs. Maybe some of you have even created some of your own (and if that's the case, share them with us in the comments, we'd love to see them!) What this article aims to achieve is enlighten you as to some of the many ways you can achieve this effect in your photography. Some are trickier than others, but there's no harm in trying them all out and seeing what suits you best!
Ok, so to start with, how do you do it? How do you make yourself fly? To list a few of the ways:
- Props (boxes, ladders, chairs etc)
- A strong assistant
- Digital manipulation
Sounds easy, but to get that shot just right, you might need to redo it over and over again, meaning you'll be tired in no time. I speak from experience as I've tried this method myself (see the above photograph).
I've gotten some good results from it, but it took me hours of jumping and I wished I had a trampoline. My legs felt like they were going to drop off the next day and stairs were a challenge! An advantage to the jumping technique is that you can do it almost anywhere, but as outlined it can be quite physically demanding and safety is advised, so don't try it out near cliffs!
Copyright – Emma Brabrook
If you don't fancy that, there's boxes, ladders and chairs. One way of looking as if you're just chilling out on an invisible bed is to take two ladders (or boxes, crates…anything that will hold your weight) and place a plank of wood (or more) between the two. Again, be careful doing this and carry it out at your own risk! Make sure that the wood or whatever you choose to use can take your weight.
Jumping isn't needed for this method, and while easier on your body, it can be tedious getting up and down to check the images if you're doing a self portrait. Another way of using these props (such as with the chair) is just to use them on their own. It might be a bit uncomfortable, but it'll get the job done nicely!
Use an Assistant
Yet another method is to find a strong helper. Make sure they wear something contrasting to you so you can edit them out easily later. They can either hold you up against something such as a wall, or they can crouch and bend over allowing you (or your model) to balance on their back.
A more complicated method of achieving the results you desire is to piece together the body using body parts photographed separately, and stitched together in your photo editor of choice. I use Photoshop, as that's what I'm familiar with.
Whichever method outlined you use, the golden rule is to always, always, ALWAYS take a photo of the scene you intend to use as a backdrop without you or your props in it first! After you have the image, don't alter the zoom, focus or tripod in any way, as this will render the original image you took useless and you will have to take another one. This is the canvas you will use to paint yourself (or your model) onto and is the key to a successful levitation photograph.
‘Airwalk' – Copyright Emma Brabrook
Step by step articles going into a lot more detail than I have here for each method are on the way, so keep your eyes peeled! If you already know how to ‘levitate', why not get creative with it and show us?
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to tweet me @clarityjane or even ask me in the comments, I'll do my best to answer them for you!
Article by Emma Brabrook – Emma is a photographer from the UK. You can follow her on Twitter, visit her Flickr, join her Page on Facebook or visit her Blog.