Miss Aniela: how I make my levitation photos

    Miss Aniela: how I make my levitation photos

    The Smothering, by Miss Aniela - copyright Miss Aniela

    Recently, fine art photographer Miss Aniela shared with us the secret behind her levitation photos, which mix strategic shooting and processing with Photoshop compositing to get the amazing levitation effect.

    As Miss Aniela tells us, she loves exploring levitation photos in her fine art photography, and bases them around themes of anxiety and emotion. The ideas and techniques are perfect for surreal images like her levitation photos.

    “In fact, they’ve been my most popular work so far with The Smothering (see above) exhibited and selling out internationally,” Miss Aniela says. “My levitation photos are also a strong talking point for those curious about the process.

    “These images achieve a levitation effect through a careful strategic shooting process followed by compositing work in Photoshop. Both the shooting and processing stages are equally important in achieving a final result which is believable within a surrealist setting.”

    There are numerous ways to achieve the levitation effect, some of which involve cutting out a whole person and replacing the background, or shooting against a green screen. However, these levitation photos by Miss Aniela were created by keeping the subject in the same position throughout the shots, and then removing the hoist or aid used, by masking over it with a blank shot of the scene.

    “By shooting the subject ‘in situ’ in this way, you can ensure the lighting looks realistic in the scene,” Miss Aniela says. “The trickiest part is to make the whole image both believable and interesting.”

    For her levitation photo, The Smothering, Miss Aniela layered a blank shot over the assistant to remove him from the scene. The ‘head in the box’ aspect was shot as a separate image then joined to the main figure by a seam at the waist.

    The subject – Miss Aniela – was kept in the same position throughout the shots for easy synergy in post-production. Miss Aniela also altered the environment of the shot by extending the canvas on one side to enlarge the hallway and remove the clutter.

    “I brightened up the whole image, cloned out the picture frame on the wall and copied a new area of floor onto the new left part,” Miss Aniela says. “I added a shadow by using the Pen tool to draw a rough shape on the floor, feathering it by about 20, and darkened it with Levels.

    “Shadows can be further adjusted and contracted by accessing the Refine Edge Dialog Box or adding a Layer Mask and softly erasing in areas.”

    How Miss Aniela makes a levitation photo

    Step 1: Use a table or chair
    Shoot your components with the help of a table or chair – or an assisting hand. It is important to keep the camera locked down on the tripod so the shots are all exactly the same frame.


    Miss Aniela: how I make my levitation photos

    Step 2: Take a blank shot
    It is important to take a blank shot of the scene, on the same focus settings as the previous shots, which is used in Photoshop to layer over the parts you want to hide to achieve the illusion.


    Miss Aniela: how I make my levitation photos

    Step 3: Final additions
    Depending on the image, bring in legs and arms from the other shots of the same position to complete the image. Add a shadow if necessary. Once complete, work on colour effects and adjustments.


    Top Tips

    Miss Aniela: how I make my levitation photos

    Tip 1: While a layer prevents destructive changes to the image itself, a mask allows you to make non-destructive changes to a layer. In The Smothering, it is used to safely erase the person holding the subject.

    Tip 2: Canvas Size is useful if you want to expand the size of the image without stretching the image size. Go to Image>Canvas Size and enter new dimensions to expand the border in any direction, the “extra” image will be filled with the set background colour and you can stretch and distort or add new elements to fill the space.

    This entry was posted on Friday, March 9th, 2012 at 10:44 am and is filed under Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a comment. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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    | Tutorials | 09/03/2012 10:44am
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