Monday, August 22, 2011

How to Create Levitation Photos

I'm so excited to show you the pictures I took this weekend after stumbling upon the work of Natsumi Hayashi.   As you may have already guessed by my photo above, Natsumi takes amazing levitation photos and you can see her magical creations at     Her self-portraits have a magical, surreal quality and I found them to be utterly mesmerizing. 

Seeing her work had me searching the web for more examples of these fun, quirky photos and I was surprised to find a number of tutorials and photos on Flickr  dedicated to this unique style of photography.

While some photographers capture the look of flying in the air by using self timers and actually jumping, others use photo editing software, i.e. Photoshop to create this illusion.

After reviewing a tutorial at Picture Social, I decided to give it a try and came up with the photo above.   The idea of trying to do a self-portrait seemed to daunting, so I coaxed my daughter into playing along.  

Creating this photo was very easy.   Basically, I took one photo of my daughter lying on a bucket and then another of just the background.  Using Photoshop Elements, I layered the two photos (with the non bucket photo as the background).  Instead of creating a mask, I used the eraser tool, and erased the bucket, revealing the background image.  I then used the clone stamp to blend in some of the grass and viola.... my daughter was floating in the air!

Here are the photos I used to create the picture above.

After creating this photo, I was so excited to try it again, however none of my kids were interested in being my model.  So I decided to combine two unrelated photos, that I took this summer. One was of my son diving into a swimming pool and one was of a cornfield.   This time I just cut out my son from the diving picture (using the magic wand tool) and pasted him into the cornfield picture.

I love how these two unrelated photos combined create an interesting effect.....(despite my somewhat novice attempt at using the magic wand tool). 

Next, I want to try and create an urban version like the examples on Natsumi's site.  Maybe running up the Golden Gate Bridge or climbing the Trans America building (a King Kong effect).  Got any suggestions?  Let me know what you think.


  1. And viola!


  2. Natsumi Hayashi actually doesn't use photoshop gimmickry like this. Her photos are actual images of her jumping, running, moving. Shot with a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second or faster.


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