Another levitation image tutorial

Since I put together a ‘how to’ blog entry on a previous levitation image I thought it might be interesting (to someone at least) to put one together for the levitation image that we produced for Jeramiah Ferrari during their recent band photography shoot.

The approach I followed for this shot was very similar to previous levitation images with the addition of needing to take many more images (basically one image for each object/person that would be floating in the final image). This obviously makes things a little more complex in terms of the shooting and in during the editing process. If you are new to levitation images you may want to read up on how to do a simple levitation image before proceeding with this one.

The Set-up

We had decided to set the band up in a corner of the studio with the band lit with some large softboxes for fill and a beauty dish as a key light (directly above the camera at about 8ft up on a boom). Once I had rough idea as to where the band members would be in the final photo and where the camera would be mounted we moved everything out of the frame that would not be constant in all the images.

As always with these kinds of shots (especially ones where there will be many images to take) it is essential that the camera is kept in exactly the same location, position and settings for all the images. So for this image I got all my settings in order, locked in the focus and then triggered the camera remotely to make sure I didn’t accidentally nudge it, knock it or change a setting.

To start with I took the base image which contains only the background and objects that would not be levitating in the final image.

The first set of objects to shoot (and the most complex) was the drums and drummer. We worked out where each part of the kit would be and then shot each part individually being held up (in hindsight it would have been much easier in post if we have used wire or something to hold the kit parts up rather than hand holding them as it was considerable extra work removing stray fingers, clothes and reflections from the shiny kit!). We then perched Stu up on a stand (supported by Josh) and shot him as if he were playing the floating kit.

After that we shot each member in turn in their pre-determined spots and ended up with about 30 individual images (I shots multiples of each band member in slightly different poses so that I could choose which looked best in relation to the others once I had them all on screen).


I imported the files into lightroom and after a play about I chose which shots would make it into the final composite.

I then started roughly masking in the various parts of the image, starting with the most complex (the drum kit again). At this stage I didn’t spend too long on the masking as I wanted to get a feel for how everything came together before I spent hours fine tuning the masking and tweaking etc.

I then worked my way through each band member in turn (often turning on/off previously edited layers to concentrate on certain parts but still checking the final image was coming together.

I found that some parts of the drum kit were not quite in the right place so I cut these out and moved them to where they fit better (which meant more accurate masking etc for those pieces). In a couple of places I also found that some of the areas where body parts were in contact with the supporting stools/stands etc looked a little off so I dipped back into lightroom and brought in shots where I could cut out replacement bits of clothes and lay them over the offending parts.


Once I was happy with the composition I worked through the image tidying up the masking and cut outs and added some dodging and burning to try and make all the shadows and lighting look as realistic as possible. Once this was done I added some styling to bring the image together.

I hope this post has been information and given you some insight as to how I achieved the Jeramiah Ferrari levitation image, if you have any questions or general comments please contact us.