Levitation Photography: Exploring Magic and Portraiture | Ian Norman | Skillshare

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Levitation Photography: Exploring Magic and Portraiture

teacher avatar Ian Norman, Photographer / Creator of Lonely Speck

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Project: A Gravity-Defying Portrait


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Clothing and Lighting


    • 5.

      Camera Settings


    • 6.

      Shooting and Posing


    • 7.

      Shot Selection


    • 8.

      Creating the "Float"


    • 9.

      Color Correction and Shadows


    • 10.

      Adding a Flock


    • 11.

      Final Details


    • 12.

      Digital Makeup and Color Grading


    • 13.



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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!


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!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

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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1. Introduction: My name is Ian Norman. I'm a photographer, blogger and full-time traveler. I'm the creator of two different photography websites. One of them is called Lonely Speck, which concentrates on nighttime photography. The other is called Photon Collective, which is all about different types of creative photography and that's more in line with some of the stuff that we're going to be doing in this class. So levitation photography is all about building a single photograph from multiple elements. I really enjoy levitation photography because it's a project that you can do pretty much anywhere. You could work in your backyard if you want to or like in the examples in this class, you can even go to a public place which really makes for an interesting dynamic in the final resulting photograph. We'll be working toward a result that magical and surreal. One of the cool things about doing that is it loosens the bounds on what you normally think as possible in a photograph. So levitation photography ends up being a project where we can combine both portrait photography and digital illustration. I think it differs a lot from the typical practices of photography, where we're only spending a fraction of a second to create any given image, it's like click and then you're done. In this case, we're actually going to be taking and combining multiple images to really build out the scene with elements that really contribute to the final look of the image. I really look forward to walking you through the process to create these photographs. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. I really look forward to seeing the results that you'll create for your class project. 2. Your Project: A Gravity-Defying Portrait: Let's jump into one of our first examples. We made this photograph in Zócalo, which is the main square right in the center of Mexico City. There's a really beautiful cathedral in the background and that ended up becoming the first thing that I thought about when creating this photograph was what do I want as my background setting? When we think about the structure of this photograph, we can start from the background and move our way forward. The very first thing is the setting. In this case, with Zócalo Square, we have the really awesome and beautiful cathedral in the background. This was taken on a weekend, so there's lots of people in the background. It really made for an interesting setting. I had a lot of fun photographing there. I highly recommend trying to photograph in a public place like this. It adds an extra dynamic to a photograph that you maybe wouldn't otherwise think of, especially when we're talking about portrait photography, where normally you're setting is a studio or maybe you're going out to some natural landmark or something like that. By shooting in a public place, it really creates a different element that you wouldn't get otherwise. The next thing to bring into the photograph obviously is our levitating model. This is the basic structure of a very simple levitation photograph where we have a background. We usually like that to be slightly out of focus and then the foreground being our model levitating. Now the one thing that I really love to bring to these photographs and one of the more creative sides of the entire project will be bringing in a flock of gravitating objects. In this case, I built a single paper crane and that single paper crane acted as this entire flock of paper cranes surrounding Lulu as she's levitating. I want you to really think about what type of object you would want to bring into your photograph that really speaks to the act of levitating. That's why I thought paper cranes would a cool element to bring into this particular photograph. But maybe also consider bringing something that compliments your subject. Maybe it could be a personal item that you're subject owns or something that really speaks to them. It doesn't really matter what you choose. Just try and pre-visualize what it would look like. Repeat it a whole bunch of times as this giant flock of levitating objects around your subject. The final thing that we want to bring into this photograph is some final color grading. I ended up using a preset across most of my photographs and I'll share that preset with you later in the class. I'll talk about some of the ways that I think about processing color in a photograph. Throughout this project, I want you to think about the structure of creating a photograph like this. The first thing we obviously have to do is think about the scene. Think about shooting in a place that will really complement your subject and add an interesting element to the photograph. Then the next part of the photograph is thinking about the model, the position of their body, what they're wearing, and we'll also talk about how to make them actually look like they're levitating. Then the third thing is, what type of magic are you going to bring into your photograph? But try to think about what you're going to build around your model to really add some magical spark to the photograph. Then the final step is just a little bit of touch-up and some color adjustments and that just about sums up the structure of creating one of these levitation photographs. In the next video lesson, we'll talk a little bit about preparation and equipment. 3. Equipment: So as far as equipment goes, obviously the first thing that we're going to need is a camera. It really doesn't matter what type of camera that you use. It could be a DSLR or a mirror-less camera, or a smart phone, or even a film camera if you want. It doesn't really matter as long as you're comfortable with it and you have some way of bringing your photographs from the camera into the computer. Obviously, if you're shooting on film, you need to be able to scan your negatives or scan your photos somehow. The important thing is that you're comfortable with the camera that you want to use. Since the technique required for levitation photography requires us to take multiple pictures from the same spot, another essential piece of equipment is a tripod. So pretty much any tripod will do. If you're using a smartphone, you can attach your smartphone to a tripod using a clamp device, like the JOBY Grip Tight. I think they're about 20 bucks online and they'll let you attach your smartphone to pretty much any kind of tripod. The final magical device that makes levitation possible is just a simple step stool. For my photographs, I use a variety of different stools. Everything from a bar stool to a little plastic kitchen step stool. It doesn't really matter what kind of stool you use as long as there's a surface for your model to lay on. The final things that you'll need in regards to your subject are a location, a model, and then also some object to levitate. As far as the object to choose for your flock of levitating objects, I really liked using origami, but you can pretty much use anything. It can be something that you feel really connects with you and your subject or something that represents yourself. I'd highly recommend using something relatively small. Something that can fit in your bag relatively easily and is not too cumbersome to carry around. It's also important that the object can be suspended in some way, either taped on to the end of the stick or hung with some thread or string. It doesn't really matter what you use but try to visualize what your object would look like if it was repeated many times while suspended in the air. So the final and most important thing that you'll need is Adobe Photoshop. We're going to be doing all of our post-processing, like removing the stool and adding in the flock of levitating objects using layers and masks in Photoshop. So to do a really quick review of the equipment that you'll need, you'll need a camera, tripod, a stool, someplace to shoot, a model, and an object that you want to levitate. So it looks like about six different things that you'll need. Then finally, Adobe Photoshop, obviously, for doing the post-processing. 4. Clothing and Lighting: One of the big considerations when shooting levitation photography is what types of clothes that your model should wear. Keep in mind that we're making something surreal, so it's not a bad idea to put somebody in some sort of clothes that they wouldn't normally wear especially in the setting that you're putting them in. Like in the case of this example photograph, Lulu's wearing her bridesmaids dress on the beach. I think that sort of contrast of the kind of more formal nighttime wear in a setting where you wouldn't really expect it to be, it really adds to some dimension of the photograph. Dresses and skirts, in general, really make for some great levitation portraits because they flow and they'll hang down, and it just really adds to the illusion of the photograph that they're floating in the air. Something else to consider when shooting your photographs is the type of lighting that you'll want. I highly, highly suggest avoiding direct sunlight. Shooting midday in the bright sun is never flattering for a portraits. One of the more difficult things to deal with, especially with levitation photography, is what you're going to do with the shadows. For that reason, I highly suggest shooting in the shade or shooting on an overcast day. All of these example photographs were shot late in the day, after the sun was really low above the horizon, or maybe even below the horizon. Shooting portraits in soft shaded light or in an overcast sky is always going to look a lot better than if you're shooting in direct sunlight. It's just going to make the post-processing a lot easier for you. So I highly, highly suggest shooting in the shade, really that's going to give you the best results. 5. Camera Settings: Hey, everyone. In this video lesson, I'm going to go over some of the quick pre-preparation that we should do to make sure that we're ready for our shoot. The first thing to talk about is camera positioning. When you're setting up your camera for levitation shoot, and you want to maximize the illusion that your subject is floating in the air, it really helps to use your tripod on one of the lowest settings possible, so getting your camera really low to the ground. The other thing to think about is how you're going to frame your model. One of the things that I really think helps add the illusion of levitation is when you can see the profile of your model's body. I shoot a lot of these pictures in landscape orientation just because of the position of the model's body, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we can't also use a portrait oriented photograph that can work just as well. As far as camera settings go, one of the most helpful things, if possible, in your camera is to be able to lock your focus, using manual focus. Since we are going to be combining more than one image for this photograph, it's important to not let our focus point change. If you can shoot in manual focus and keep your focus point the same throughout the shoot it'll really help with the final look of the photograph. If you're shooting on a DSLR or if you have a camera with manual controls, there's a few things that might help, obviously on a digital camera shooting in RAW will help us with our post-processing so that we have more latitude when it comes to changing the colors of the photograph or matching one photograph to another. It's also helpful to shoot in manual exposure mode so that the exposure doesn't change from shot to shot. When shooting in manual exposure mode, we'll generally want to use a low F-number when shooting. The lower the F-number that your lens can go, the shorter the depth of field, and that'll allow us to blur out the background and really create a nice sense of depth in our portrait, similar to shooting in manual mode so that our exposure doesn't change it's also helpful to set a custom white balance or maybe just set your white balance to shade or sunlight, so that it doesn't change during the shoot. If you're shooting in RAW, we can always change the white balance after the fact in post-processing. Finally, one of the most helpful settings if your camera has it, is continuous shooting modes so that we can shoot really rapidly since your model is going to be strained to support themselves on the stool, it's important to try and shoot as quickly as possible, so that they don't have to hold themselves in any one position for too long. 6. Shooting and Posing: Hi everyone. In this video lesson, we're going to take a look at executing the shoot. So one of the most important things to think about at the very beginning of your shoot is to lock down your framing. It's important that we don't move our camera during the course of the shoot because we're going to rely on stacking multiple images together. So if we change our framing in the middle of the shoot, we won't be able to easily align and stack the images. So the best way to do this is to get your model into position. Have them sit on a stool and tell them to get into their levitation pose. But let them know that you're not doing any real shooting, so you don't have to worry about their facial expression or the body position. You just want them to be roughly in the right spot. While they're doing that, use that opportunity to frame everything up. Make sure that they fit into the frame with all of their limbs extended. Maybe take a couple of test shots and check your focus just to make sure that everything is set and ready to go. When you're finally confident on your framing, you can tell your model to rest and you can go ahead and double-check some of those test shots that you've made, just to confirm that you're really ready to start the actual shoot. So when it comes to actually shooting and guiding your model, there's a few things to think about. Probably the most important is what your model's face is doing. You really want your model to look calm and relaxed. So it's important to just tell your model to be as relaxed as possible to really find that position where they feel like they could stay there for an extended period of time. Your model can be positioned either on their stomach or on their back. But one of the things that generally helps when trying to add to the illusion that they're levitating is to get them into a position where their feet are a little bit higher than their head. So getting their head low to the ground and getting their feet to look like they're floating up. Have your model try different positions just to see what works best for them and have them take a break every once in awhile because it can be pretty straining to try and hold a superman position while laying on a stool. So when I shoot any given levitation portrait, I tend to take a lot of photographs. For a single portrait, I might shoot maybe 100 or even 200 shots of one person. Try to shoot as long as possible and really try to help your model out finding those positions. They really have that little spark of magic that makes them look like they're floating in the air. Obviously, this is one of the advantages of using a digital camera. We can basically shoot as much as we want. Don't be shy to press that Shutter button if you're using a digital camera, it will really help with the final results to have as many photographs to choose from as possible. So the next thing to do once you're finished shooting the model is to move everything out of the scene and without changing the camera position and without changing the focus or any of the settings on the camera, we want to take a photograph of just the background. This is what will help us later combine the background with our portrait shots so that we can Photoshop out the stool and make that illusion that our model is levitating. So once you have the background recorded, we're ready to start shooting our flock of levitating objects. The most important thing here is again, to not move the camera and not change your framing. Don't change your focus and keep all of your settings the same. So when shooting our example using origami, I use a little wooden dowel or a skewer and tape the origami to the end of the skewer. Then I just had somebody helped me move the objects throughout the scene. We just moved the object in different positions and took a photograph in each of those different positions, from the foreground to the background and everywhere in between. It's important to take as many photographs as possible here so we have a lot to choose from in post-processing. Just like with our model, I usually shoot about 100-200 different photographs with different positions of the object. That way we can pick and choose the best positions in post-processing. 7. Shot Selection: Everyone, welcome back. In the last video lesson, we completed all of our shooting. So now we're ready to take a look at all of our photographs. I'm going to just walk through the process of how I pick and choose which photographs to use for the final levitation portrait. I'll walk you through all of the post-processing steps to remove the stool and to bring in our flock of levitating objects. So let's take a look at all of our photos here. One of the things I like to do initially is just scroll through all of my photos relatively quickly. So here are the first set of photos with Monica doing her levitation poses. Right at the end of that, you can see that I took my photograph of just the background. Then after that, we brought in all of the levitating cranes and I had my girlfriend hold the crane on the end of a wooden dowel in all the pictures. As far as choosing a pose, some of the things that I'm going to be looking at are Monica's face, what her legs are doing, what her hands are doing, and how comfortable she looks, but also just something that makes her look like she's floating. This initial picture I don't think is very good. We could use it if we wanted to, but we have a lot to choose from. I took over a 150 photos total for this particular shoot, so I'll just go ahead and walk through. In most of these, her legs are lower than her head. That can work, but I really wanted something that looked a little unusual, so I told her to try and get her weight back. She had to shift her weight on the stool to start to actually get back. You can see her resetting here. You can see she shifted her weight so that she's now resting on her lower back instead. Some of these photos are getting a lot closer to what I think we're looking for. I was looking for something where she's a little more calm looking, something a little more unusual. As you'll notice, I've got people running around in the background and honestly that doesn't really matter because later on we're going to be Photoshopping things out anyway and so we have the full background image to remove anything that we might want. These shots right here are looking really good. I really like this one, her face looks calm, her eyes are closed and that's okay. But overall, her body position looks like relatively natural, like if you imagine the stool not being there, it would look like she's floating in the air. Her legs are a little stiff looking, so I might look for something a little bit better. This one, she looks even more relaxed, which is pretty nice. This one is definitely an option, and I actually really like this one. I like how her foot is approaching the ground and there's something about her head being back that I think is rather unusual. It looks like she's in a sleeping state. So I'm going to go ahead and mark that one. I'll give it five stars. That one in particular looks pretty good. Some of these other ones, she looks a little bit strained and then now her head is rising up a little bit too high for my liking. Obviously she looks strained in some of these, so we probably won't use these. This one's not too bad, but I think the angle of her body is a little, perhaps, less flattering than our other one. This one in particular, it looks pretty good. We've got a lot of things to Photoshop out. I mean, obviously the stool, but having all these other people in there is probably not super helpful, but this one in particular does look pretty good. So I'm going to go ahead and mark it with five stars. All right, so that's it. We'll take a look at just our two best shots and we'll decide between the two. I actually really like this shot in particular. Obviously, it's going to be a lot more difficult to have to Photoshop out so many things in the background. So this is going to be an easier shot to edit. There's something about her body position. I think it's a little more flattering, a little more unusual, the way her head is tilted really far back. I think it makes for a more interesting photograph. Plus I just really love this kite in here. I think I'll try to keep this in here for the final shot. Now that we've figured out which photos were going to use, we're ready to bring them into Adobe Photoshop. I'm going to select the image of our model, and then I'm going to hold down command or control and select the image of just our background. Here's our model and here's our background and we're going to combine these two pictures together so we can remove some of the elements that we don't want in there. 8. Creating the "Float": I've got both of those photos selected so I can right-click and choose edit in and open as layers in Photoshop and I'll show you another way to do that directly from Photoshop. Now we have both of our photos opened up in Photoshop, you can see them over here in the layers palette. We have our model on the top layer, I can disable her by clicking this icon. Then now we can see the bottom layer, which is just the background. If you want to open multiple images into layers directly from Photoshop, you can go to file and then scripts, and then load files into stack. Then from this dialog box, you can click the "Browse" button and then navigate for your files on your desktop and choose them there. When you click "Okay," they'll load them into layers just like we have here. One of the first things that I like to check is my alignment between the layers. If I turn off and on the image of our model, it looks like the backgrounds seems to move a little bit like my camera shifted just slightly. You can see here how the camera moves slightly between each of the shots. We'll go ahead and adjust that to try and make sure that they line up perfectly. There's a couple of ways to do that. The lazy method is to select both of these layers. I'm holding down command, select both of them and then we can go to edit and auto align layers. Then just using the auto projection method, we can hit "Okay." This method doesn't always work the best, so we still have to go in and double-check and see what happens, so I'll zoom in really quick here. Now when I turn on and off the layers, it doesn't appear as if the ground is moving. It looks like it did a pretty good job at aligning everything. Now we have our layers aligned, so now we're ready to start masking out this tool. This is a relatively easy operation, we're going to be using a thing called a layer mask. A layer mask allows us to edit the transparency of a layer by painting on it. The way that we do that is by selecting the top layer and then down here clicking this button, this rectangle with the circle in the center called the "Add layer mask" button. That's going to add this little white rectangle, which is a representation of our layer mask. The way a layer mask works is that if we have the layer mask selected and we paint black over the layer mask, it'll make that portion of that layer transparent. That's how we can start erasing the stool. I'm going to demonstrate this by zooming into this stool here and I've got the layer mask selected. I've chosen the Paintbrush Tool and black as my color. If I paint with a black brush on layer mask, you can see that it starts to erase that portion of the layer. The best way to do this is to make sure that you're using a large soft brush. Turn the hardness down and use a relatively large size. We want to create a really soft transition between our two layers. We're going to keep it as soft as we can throughout. As you get closer to the edges of your model's body, you're going to want to start making your brush a little bit smaller so that you don't start erasing your model as well. When I've gotten really close here to about the radius that my brushes is making the really soft curves, I'm going to switch over to a full hardness brush. I'm going to drag the hardness all the way up to 100 percent. Now we're painting with a really hard edge, right up to the edge of our models clothing. When you're painting a really close edge like this, it can be easy to accidentally overdo it. The cool thing with the layer mask is that we can really quickly undo by just switching our color to white. There's a couple of ways to do this. We can click this little "Arrow" key and that'll switch our foreground and background colors. If we paint white on layer mask, it'll bring back what we had previously erased. Another way to do that is to press "X" on the keyboard and that's a really quick way to switch between our foreground and background colors just by clicking "X". Anywhere we paint black gets erased, and anywhere we paint white remains visible. Now, you can see in the areas that we brushed, the color doesn't quite match, the background layer appears like it's a little bit bluer than the foreground layers. We're going to make some adjustments to that in a little bit just to make sure that they look visually similar. We used a nice soft brush and created this really soft transition and then worked our way into the details using a harder, more detailed brush. We're going to do the same thing to this leg of the stool over here. It's a little bit smaller, so we won't have to use as big of a brush, but we'll start with a soft brush as well. As you get closer into the detail of the model, you'll want to start using a smaller and harder brush. I'm just going to turn my hardness back down here for this transition just to make it a little bit smoother. This little portion of her dress, I'm just going to go ahead and erase that. It's not really contributing to the photo. The important thing here is just to make sure that our transitions between the two images are as gradual as possible. I'm using a really large, smooth black brush to try and make this whole area a little bit softer. Now, we obviously still want to have a shadow in there, so I'm actually going to leave some of this dark portion of the shadow in there just as reference. But I'm making sure that the transition between our Photoshop background area and the original shot with a shadow are as a gradual as possible. That's relatively close to what we want, but obviously there are some differences in color here that we want to correct. That's what we're going to do next. 9. Color Correction and Shadows: In order to match the background layer, which is a little bit bluer with the foreground layer, we're going to use an adjustment layer. The adjustment layers can be found in this Adjustments palette. If you don't have the Adjustments palette open, you can find it by going to Window and then making sure that you have Adjustments selected. We're going to add an adjustment layer to our background layer to try and get it to match our foreground layer. I'm going to select the background layer, and then I'm going to pick the Levels adjustment layer. If I click this button, and it opens this Properties dialogue box, which allows us to adjust the different parameters on the Levels adjustment layer. While we're adjusting the colors of this layer, I'm going to want to look at the area that's unshadowed. Between this blue section and this more neutral gray-looking section, that's the area that I'm going to be looking at for the adjustment layer. This section of the background layer is a little bit too blue. I'm going to target the Blue channel by selecting the blue channel from this little RGB drop-down. Now all of the adjustments that we would make using the sliders on the levels tool will only affect the blue channel. If I start to tweak this midtone slider, you can see how it adjusts the color of the background layer. We want to just try and get it so it looks closer to the other layer. It's looking pretty close. That looks a little bit better. I think I want to adjust the green layer a little bit. I think this section is also a little bit too green. I'm going to just adjust the midtone sliders again just to try and get it. It looks like it's not letting me make as refined an adjustment as I want. I'm just going to select the numbers here and use the up and down arrow keys to make a slight adjustment that I want. That's looking really close. I think I may have taken out just a little bit too much blue, so I'm going to go back to blue and make the final tweak on the Blue channel as well. Now our layers are pretty close, but we still have the shadow to deal with. In order to match the shadows, we're going to use a second adjustment layer. I'm going to add another levels adjustment layer on top of the other one. In this levels adjustment layer, we're going to adjust the brightness of the image just so it matches with the shadowed portion of the ground. I'm not looking at any of the other parts of the layer. We're just looking at how well it matches with the shadow. That's looking pretty close. It looks like it's also a little overly blue. I'm going to adjust the blue layer again just to neutralize it just slightly. Obviously, when we did that, it affected the area outside of where we really wanted. We'll actually paint that area out using a layer mask, just like we did with the stool. When we created the adjustment layer, it actually automatically added a layer mask to the adjustment layer. We can make sure that that's selected and we can go ahead and paint out the areas just like we did with the stool, that we don't want in the image. The important thing here is to just use a large soft brush and try to make the transition for the shadow look really natural. We do the same thing over here. By painting on this layer mask, we're only affecting the adjustment layer rather than the layer itself, so it's only affecting how bright or dark our layer is. That's looking pretty good. I don't really like this super dark area of shadows, so I'm going to go ahead and adjust that a little bit by selecting the original layer mask from our foreground layer, and I'm going to paint some black over that as well. I'm going to use a relatively low opacity brush here just so I don't affect it too much. I'm bringing it down to about 40 percent. We're just going to paint over that just a little bit, just to make it look a little bit better. Now it looks like a nice, smooth shadow. That basically covers how we remove the stool and do a really basic levitation photograph. Now that we're done with the basic levitation photograph, we're ready to flatten the image. We can select this little drop down in the Layers palette and choose Flatten Image. I'll go ahead and save my work by hitting "File", "Save". In the next video lesson, we'll pull in all of our layers for the levitating flock of origami cranes. 10. Adding a Flock: In the last video lesson, we'll learned how to Photoshop out this tool to make very basic levitation photograph. In this video lesson, we're going to bring in our flock of levitating objects. The way I'm going to do this is I'm going to go back to Lightroom and select all of my origami photographs and then I can right-click and choose edit in and open layer as layers in Photoshop. Depending on how many photographs you made of your levitating objects, it'll probably take a little bit of time to load. Once again, another way to import all of our photographs as layers directly from Photoshop is to go to "File" and then "Scripts", and then "Load files into stack". From here we can click "Browse." We can select all of the photographs from our flock and then click "Open." Now you can see that we have all of the photographs from our flock photos imported as layers. One of the things that I want to do is I want to pull in the photograph of Monica levitating. I'm just going to make sure that the background layer is selected and I'm going to select everything with command A or control A. Then I'm going to use command C or control C to copy the contents of this layer. Then in the document with all of our flock photos, I'm going to create a new layer and with that new layer selected, I'm going to press command V or control V to paste the layer. Now since we want to add the flock of levitating objects on top of this layer of Monica levitating, I'm going to drag the layer with her in it to the bottom of the layers palette. I'll just place it there as the bottom layer. Now you can see that we have all of the layers above her. Using layer masks again, we're going to paint in all of these different levitating objects and then we can pick and choose which are the ones that we like the best. The next thing I'm going to do is I'm going to turn off the visibility of all these layers by clicking on the eyeball icon and then just dragging down. Then I'm going to turn on the layer of just Monica and we're going to work our way from the bottom layer here all the way up. The first thing I'm going to do is turn on the bottom layer and you can see that we've got our little levitating crane. In order to get these cranes to appear in our final image, we're going to need to use a layer mask again. I'm going to add a layer mask to our first layer here, and you can see that the mask is selected. With that mask selected, we're going to use a black brush again and we're actually going to paint away the crane. I'm using a relatively soft brush here. I think it's important at first to just start with the hardness all the way down to zero percent. We'll just go in here and very carefully paint out the levitating crane.You can see now what was underneath the crane. Now that that guy is painted out, we're going to want to invert the mask. All we can see on that layer is the crane itself. With the layer mask selected, I'm going to hit command I or control I to invert the mask and now we have the crane roughly placed inside of our picture. We're going to repeat this for all of the different layers. I'll turn on the next layer, and with the next layer selected, I'll add another layer mask. Using a black brush, I'm just going to paint over where the crane is. This can be a little bit rough. It doesn't need to be perfect because we're going to refine our layer masks a little bit later. That's how we're going to start inserting all of our paper cranes into the final scene. The important thing here is to not worry too much about precision because we still need to select exactly which paper cranes we want to use in the final image. So we're going to go ahead and just get them all in there for now and then see how they turn out a little bit later. You'll likely have some overlap between your paper cranes. That's okay. Like I said, we're going to pick and choose which paper cranes we want to actually use in our final image a little bit later. So don't worry too much about what the overlaps look like for now. It'll look a little weird at first. That's a good example of one that looks more weird. Maybe we won't use that in our final image, but we want to see what it looks like relative to all the other paper cranes. We can pick and choose which is the best. Every once in awhile, you might find one that you know you don't want to use. I'm just going to go ahead and skip that layer and I'll just throw that one in the trash by dragging it into the trash can. For the smaller paper cranes, I'm using a smaller soft brush and for the larger paper cranes, I'm using a larger soft brush. I'm just using the space bar and command or control together to enable the zoom tool, and then using the space bar alone to act as my pen tool. To zoom out, I can hold down space command and alternate or option, and that lets me zoom out really quickly. I'm just selecting my next layer with the eyeball icon to turn it on. Selecting a layer, adding a layer mask, and then painting over the layer with a soft black brush to erase the paper crane, and then using command I or control I, I'll invert the layer mask so that we can see the paper crane again. One of the important things here is, after you turn on a layer is to select it and make sure you actually remember to add the layer mask so that you're painting on the layer mask and not the layer itself. You can see we're starting to fill it out with a whole bunch of different origami cranes. Obviously, we're not going to use all of these, but once we've finished adding them all in there, we can pick and choose which ones we liked the best. In this case where we have an origami crane overlapping with something in the background, it's a little bit harder to make this transition when we have something else in there. So I'm going to go ahead and discard this one. Now we have our giant flock of levitating cranes in there. Obviously, this isn't complete, so we need to pick and choose the cranes that we want to use. 11. Final Details: I'm going to go ahead and turn off everything again. Using a little layer visibility icon, a little eyeball on layers palette, I'm just going to click and drag to turn everything off. We'll turn in our first layer back on and then we'll just walk through and pick and choose which of these levitating cranes that we think we want. I'm going to generally try to pick ones that aren't overlapping on top of our model, because I think that that can sometimes be a little bit distracting. I'm just going through turning them on, seeing which ones I think are cool, just depending on the angle that they're sitting at. Obviously, we don't want too many overlapping, but a little bit of overlap is okay. We'll obviously have to adjust accordingly depending on which ones are overlapping. I think I'm going to use some of these. Now, if there's one that we don't want to include, I think I'm going to exclude this one, the easiest way to select that specific layer, is to use the move tool, which you can quick select by pressing ''V''. Then if you hold down Command or Control and click on that particular levitating crane, it'll select the layer automatically. I'm going to turn that one off. I'm going to go ahead and just select a few of the cranes that I think I'm not going to use in the final image. I think that's looking pretty close to what I want in my final image. One of the things that you'll notice, and is especially apparent on this particular crane, is that a lot of the crane images are darker than the image that we have of Monica. We can try and match that again using an adjustment layer. In this case, I want to make the layer of Monica a little bit darker so it matches the layers that we have of all of the levitating cranes. I'm going to select the layer of Monica, and then I'm going to add another adjustment layer, just as we did before using the adjustments palette here and selecting new levels adjustment. Then using the midtone slider, I can go ahead and make the image just a little bit darker, so that that transition's a little bit smoother. This is starting to look pretty good. Now what we really need to do is just clean up some of the detail on each of the levitating cranes. I'll just start at the top left here. With this levitating crane, I'll use commands. Click using the move tool again to select that layer. Then using another black brush, I'm going to select the layer mask of that particular layer. I'll go ahead and get rid of some of the details that I don't want in there, like this stick. That looks pretty good. You can use the move tool by pressing ''V'', and then use Command or Control click to select that particular layer. Then I'll select the layer mass. Choose another black brush. I'll adjust this to size and then just paint it out with a soft black brush. We'll repeat this for all of the different layers. Just tweaking the layer mask a little bit for each of the origami cranes, so that they don't have the stick in there. This layer in particular overlaps with this kite. I'm going to select it and use a really, really soft black brush, a really large one. I'm going to turn my opacity down just a little bit. Just to make it look a little more natural. That basically sums up how we add in our flock of levitating objects. Remember that with the layer masks, you can always go back in and adjust them later, if you're not quite satisfied. Give your work one quick little overview, just to make sure that you think everything looks pretty good. When you're finally ready and you're sure that you've got all of the levitating objects in there that you want, you're satisfied with your layer masks, you can go ahead and go to the little drop-down on the layers palette and choose flatten the Image. It'll ask you if you want to discard a hidden layers and that's fine, so hit "OK". Now that we find our image, we can go ahead and hit "File", "Save". In the next video lesson, we'll make some minor color adjustments and do a little bit of digital makeup. 12. Digital Makeup and Color Grading: Hey everyone, welcome back. In the last video lesson, we finished putting in our levitating flock, and now we're ready to do some minor touch ups and color adjustments to the image. One of the first things that I want to do is make this image a little bit brighter. Brighter tones generally make portraits a little more flattering. So I'm going to use a curves adjustment for this particular image, and in this case I just want to make it a little bit brighter. So I'm going to take the mid tones of the curves, just the center of this graph and drag them up just to make everything a little bit brighter. Now I don't want to make the sky overly bright, so I'm going to grab the right side of the graph here and bring down the highlights just a little bit, just to make sure that it's not overly bright. Now one of the things that I like to do to images to give it a more film like look, is to crush the black point by pulling up the left point on the graph, and you can see that that brings a little more detail into the dark area of the image. Just to add a little more contrast, I want to pull down this shadow area just a little bit just to give it a little bit of a curve. That's pretty good for our basic color adjustments. Now something else I want to do is just a little bit of digital makeup just to clean up our model a little bit. In particular, I just want to focus on a couple of blemishes and just to smooth things out a little bit. I want to be using the Spot Healing Brush Tool, which is pretty cool. It does pretty much everything automatically, so there is not a lot of work that has to go into it. I'll select my background layer where are our model exists, and I'll just go in and brush away a couple of the blemishes. I'm literally just clicking on areas that I think need to be cleaned up. I don't want to go too overboard. We could obviously airbrush and do a whole bunch of different adjustments, but I want this image to look relatively natural. I'll keep my adjustments to a minimum. We'll take a few blemishes here as well. That looks generally clean. This is the step that I usually like to do. Most people prefer pictures where they're touched up just a little bit. Try not to go overboard with it, you still want your model to look like who they are, but that's a good step to go through. Honestly that's just about it, that sums up all the work that we're going to do in Photoshop. Now we're ready to go ahead and flatten our image and save. I'm going to switch over to Adobe Lightroom just to do some final color edits on our image. For this particular image, I'm going to be using a preset, and this preset is part of a preset pack that I created called the quantum collection, and you can find a link to download to the quantum collection in the Project Assignment tab that's below this video. The preset that I'm using for all of these photographs is called Charm. In this particular preset, I'm using one called Charm DR++, and it's with this preset that I edited most of the examples that I use in this class. Now, I think this looks pretty good. It's a little bit dark, so I'm going to make a few final tweaks. I'm going to go ahead and increase the exposure. But I want to keep the sky still relatively dark, so I'm going to use the Graduated Filter Tool. The Graduated Filter Tool lets us use any of these adjustments as a gradient across the image, and I want to use it to darken the exposure. I'm going to darken it by about one step, so I'm going to set it to minus one, and then I'm just going to pull a gradient across the image, and then I can adjust the position of that gradient. Actually, I think we can go a little bit darker, so I'm just going to adjust it a little bit more. I think that looks pretty good. I'll go ahead and click "Done". One of the things I really like to add into these images is a little bit of vignetting to close out the model. I'm going to scroll all the way down to these adjustments here to the Lens Corrections Tool, and under the Manual Corrections tab, I'm going to use the Lens Vignetting Tool to pull down the brightness of the corners. I just want to do this just a little bit, just to close in the image a little bit. I'll adjust the midpoint as well. That's looking pretty good. This preset pack has a lot of really great filmy looks in it. One of the cool things about it is this is how I adjust my photos, and if you're using Adobe Lightroom, you can go ahead and just click one and see the result, and you can look over on the Develop Module Tool and you can see exactly how I achieved that look. Each one has a different look, and there's varying levels. For electron, for instance, this is the standard electron preset, and there's different versions of it, the plus versions which crush the blacks a little bit more and make it look a little more film like, and then there's the high dynamic range versions or the DR versions which really bring out a lot of the detail. For each of the dynamic range versions, there's a plus version as well to also get that crushed black look. Feel free to use any of these presets in your final project and feel free to tweak them however you like. I particularly like Charm for this particular setting, I think it just worked really well. There's honestly no wrong way to adjust the colors in these images. Pick a preset that you like and check out all of the adjustments that I made to get to that result, and make changes if you want to, to the final image just to get the result that you want. That just sums up levitation photography. I really hope you enjoyed this class, I hope you learned something about using layers and masks in Photoshop, and I really look forward to seeing what you guys can create. I hope this class showed you just how simple it can be to create a levitation portrait. Honestly, there's really nothing holding you back, all you need is a camera and a stool, and a tripod, a model location. Get out there and find a friend or take a self portrait and make a levitation photograph. 13. Thanks!: That was a walk-through of my complete workflow for making levitation portraits. Thanks so much for joining this class. I really hope you enjoyed it. Share your levitation portraits in the class gallery and check out what your fellow classmates are making too. I'd love to get your feedback, so please feel free to give me a review and remember that I'm always available on the discussion section of the class if you have any questions at all. Also remember to check out my other photography classes on Skillshare. If you want, you can follow me on my website, photoncollective.com or on Instagram. Thanks so much, see you.