Levitation photography: how to make objects float

Watch the video: levitation photography – make objects float

Whether it’s for action-packed product shots or cosplay projects, the ability to make an object levitate in your frame can add punch and production value to your photographs.

There are a few different ways to achieve this effect. The most fun way is to spend a few years attending Hogwarts, but you can also make objects float using a program like Photoshop with the aid of multiple layers and some nifty masking skills. However, using these photography tips, you can get a much more realistic-looking effect in-camera – and it can be much easier than wrestling with lots of layers in post-production.

You’ll need to pick up an expandable shower rod, which costs about a tenner from somewhere like B&Q, and a roll of catgut or fishing wire, which will only run you a few pounds. Of course, you will also need an object, or objects, to levitate – this will depend on the specific image that you want to shoot, but in our case we’ve gone for a magician making an old analogue camera setup float in the air. 

From here it’s a case of finding a doorway or other space to securely erect your shower rod, and then using lengths of catgut to diligently hang each element that you want to levitate. If you’re lucky with the light, once you’ve taken your shot, the catgut may be completely invisible. If not, you’ll need to use the Spot Healing Brush tool in Photoshop to erase the signs of your magic trick! 

01 Hanging around

Erect your shower rod in a doorway or other suitable space. Once it’s secure, tie on lengths of wire and hang the objects you wish to levitate. Make sure to snip any loose excess wire to save extra editing later.

02 Trick of the light

Whether you’re using natural or supplemental, having light with a bit of direction will help sell the illusion. If the objects cast some shadows on your subject, it will show that the image isn’t just a Photoshop trick!

03 Point of focus

Your objects will all be on the same focal plane, so focus on your main point of interest. Shoot with the widest aperture you can (we used f/1.8) to blur the background while keeping objects and subject sharp.

04 Where the magic happens

After you’ve taken your shot, you may have to remove the wires in post-production if the light caught them. Use Photoshop’s Healing Brush tool and simply paint along the wires to make them disappear – magic!

05 A spot more magic

The Healing Brush can struggle where different backdrops meet – like the black background meeting the white shirt, or the shirt meeting the thumb. Use the Spot Healing Brush or Clone Stamp tools here.

06 The last (Wiz)bit

Finally, use the Crop tool to remove the door frame at either side of the shot. It can be tempting to leave it in as a framing device, but it will give the trick away! Now do any final retouching and save the image.

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