Levitation Photography: Exploring Magic and Portraiture

Ian Norman, Photographer / Creator of Lonely Speck

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13 Videos (1h 1m)
    • Introduction

      2:09
    • Your Project: A Gravity-Defying Portrait

      4:06
    • Equipment

      2:41
    • Clothing and Lighting

      1:48
    • Camera Settings

      2:37
    • Shooting and Posing

      4:24
    • Shot Selection

      4:57
    • Creating the "Float"

      7:27
    • Color Correction and Shadows

      5:21
    • Adding a Flock

      11:15
    • Final Details

      6:50
    • Digital Makeup and Color Grading

      6:50
    • Thanks!

      0:36

About This Class

Make your subject defy gravity! In this one-hour class, photographer Ian Norman shares a simple technique for shooting magical, dreamlike levitation portraits.

This class will push both your photography skills and creative instincts. When you have the intention of creating something surreal, all the constraints and bounds on your creativity are loosened. The entire experience — from planning to set up to shooting to processing — is a slow and methodical creative endeavor.

The video lessons share a start-to-finish creative method for creating a portrait scene with a subject levitating among a flock of flying objects. You'll learn how to

  • optimize your camera settings for this project
  • set up a quick shoot
  • style effective model poses
  • create an array of levitating objects
  • create the "float" effect using Photoshop and Lightroom

All you need is a camera you enjoy shooting (DSLR, digital point-and-shoot, or smartphone), a tripod, and familiarity with Photoshop and Lightroom. It's time to capture a dreamlike portrait!

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Class Outline

  • Introduction. Levitation photography is about creating an image that blends the magical with the surreal. Let Ian Norman show you how to build a single photograph from multiple elements that brings portraiture photography into new realms of imagination.
  • Your Project: A Gravity-Defying Portrait. Ian breaks down the structure of his photographs to give you an inside look at how editing photos into a single composition results in a gravity-defying portrait. You will then use these tips to create your own image with Ian guiding you through the steps of choosing a setting, positioning your model, and adding other floating elements to give the finished photo an extra touch of wizardry.
  • Equipment. Though not much equipment is need to create such photos, there are some things to keep in mind, and Ian shows you how he is able to compose and shoot his photos no matter where he is. With a simple tripod and a step stool, you too can take magical photographs at the beach or in your own backyard.
  • Clothing and Lighting. Ian advises his students to “think magically” when deciding how to dress their models, and he gives his thoughts on how to approach this subject. He also explains the dangers of photographing in the wrong light. With his tips, you’ll be able to drastically reduce the amount of photograph editing you will need for your finished image.
  • Camera Settings. Most photography courses online cover camera settings, but when creating magical levitation photographs, a few things must be considered. Ian goes over the settings he uses to capture the highest quality image possible, as well as tips to keep colors and tones consistent.
  • Shooting and Posing. Ian demonstrates how to execute the shoot by taking test shots, finding the best frame, and what to look for in the model’s pose. Since these are ultimately portraits, special care must be taken when posing so the model’s facial expression looks natural and relaxed.
  • Shot Selection. When choosing which shot works best, you need to know what to look for. Here, Ian explains his thought process while whittling his images down from hundreds to just two.
  • Creating the “Float”. Now we’re ready to create the magic using Photoshop. By layering the images, the illusion begins to take form. Using layer masks, you’ll quickly erase the stool to make your model float in midair.
  • Color Corrections and Shadows. Once the stool has been removed, slight color corrections must be done to blend the background image into the foreground. Ian also demonstrates his technique for using Photoshop adjustment layers to fill in the shadows left by the stool’s absence.
  • Adding a Flock. For this image, Ian added a flock of origami cranes, which now must be added and edited so that they appear to float. Once again, layer masks help you quickly and easily lift the cranes from the original photo so they can be placed around your model.
  • Final Details. A few tweaks to the cranes helps them match the tone and color of the model layer. Adjusting their exposure makes them blend in seamlessly, while a hard brush gets rid of any remaining problem areas.
  • Digital Makeup and Color Grading. Before the photo is finished, Ian removes a few blemishes using Photoshop, and then brings the final composition into Lightroom to add a few presets to give it a more filmlike look. Download his Lightroom presets and use them for free in your next project!


111 of 111 students recommendSee All

Great class, learned heaps and keen to give it a go
It's very well detailed. You'll learn everything you need to know about levitation photography. Must Take this.
This class is really amazing for those who want to start Levitation photography a very simple and basic tricks to do Levitation photography is shown in this class.
Bhargav Patel

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Ian Norman

Photographer / Creator of Lonely Speck

Ian Norman is a commercial photographer specializing in Timelapse Photography and Night Photography. He is the creator of Lonely Speck, where he shares astrophotography techniques and tutorials, and Photon Collective, a creative photography project community.

You can find more about Ian at his site's facebook pages for Lonely Speck, Photon Collective and on twitter and Instagram.

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