How to Create the Levitating Effect

November 8, 2012 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | Comment |

This is a guide for how to create the very striking effect of falling down / levitating in photography.

It looks complicated but it is actually quite easy. With a little bit of Photoshop knowhow you will be able to achieve the desired result.

The List

You will need the following:

  • Tripod
  • Camera
  • Off camera flash (optional)
  • Chair (to lean from or hang off)
  • Model (you can use yourself if you don’t have one)

Step One

The background. The first thing you need to do is set your camera up on a tripod and get your flash lights into position (don't worry if you don’t have any).  Then take a few test shots until you are happy with the light levels. 

Step Two

Once you are happy with the light levels it is time to take the first photograph (‘photo 1’) - the background without the chair. Make sure you don’t adjust any of your camera or flash settings as the next shot has to have the same light levels and camera angles.  This is why it is so important to use a tripod.

Step Three

Now it is time to use your chair (‘photo 2’).  Lay the model (or yourself) on the chair in a position that suggests you are falling or levitating. I find the most interesting results are achieved when the subject's facial expression is relaxed as it adds a dream-like quality to the composition.

Step Four

Once you are happy with photo 1 and photo 2 you need to open up both images in Photoshop.  Remember if you are going to do any post processing make sure you use the same settings for both photos as the light levels have to be identical.

Step Five

Place photo 2 on top of photo 1. The easiest way to do this is to click and drag photo 2 over photo 1 until they fit perfectly together.

Step 6

Now you need to select both the Pen tool and the Add Vector Mask tool.  If necessary, you can delete the mask if you make a mistake.

Click on the Add Vector Mask icon in the layers panel and with the Pen tool highlight every piece of chair that you want to remove.  Select the black colour from the palette and go over the highlighted area to remove the hair completely.

You might find you need to use the Clone tool in some areas to modify some of the shadows. A top tip is to adjust the Clone tool opacity to 30% to make the shadows softer and ensure there are no hard lines.

With a little patience and creativity you will end up with a photograph that defies gravity.


Founder of the Official London Photography Tours with a love of everything to do with photography. On our London photography tours we use London as our playground and are proud to offer the best London photo walks in the capital.

Your Comments

Loading comments…