Try it yourself: Levitation

Recently, a friend told me about an interesting photo artist: Natsumi Hayashi (yowayowa). Hayashi is a Japanese girl who takes great levitation–self-portraits. She also had an exhibition in Tokyo this year, called: "Today's Levitation!"

Photo by Natsumi Hayashi/ yowayowa

Photo by Natsumi Hayashi/ yowayowa

So I did some research about taking levitation pictures.

What is levitation photography and how does it work? How can I do it on my own?

Levitation means taking pictures of a subject that is floating in the air, just like the classic magician trick! But in this case, we use our camera and a (very) little use of Photoshop.

First, I watched this great (and funny) video of Kai (digitalrev):

There I learned that you have a lot to take care of and that it isn’t easy - but it works out in the end. You have to practice a lot and you need patience.

Here are the most important steps:

  • You need a friend or a tripod with shutter release
  • Some nice ideas and equipment – see the website of Natsumi
  • The following setup: Manual focus and a Shutter speed of 1/500 sec. or faster (1/320 sec. can be used in a darker condition).
  • Your body has to forget that you are jumping – so hold your feet flat, your face normal and take care of your clothing and hair! You need to look like you aren’t jumping.
  • How to do it: First, get the composition, then focus manually on an object or your friend. Then you have to press the shutter release (10 Seconds/10 Pictures in a row) and “run” to your position, or switch places with your friend and let them press the button.
  • Jump by intuition – you will have to try it often – so be in good condition. ;)
  • For some special floating pictures, you have to remove chairs or other objects you are sitting/lying on in Photoshop.

You will develop a feel for the right moment or expression so just try it out.

Here are some results of my levitations:

Well - they aren't perfect, but for the first try - they are ok for me. I should set the shutterspeed a bit higher, my hair and clothes are still moving and sometimes I look a bit too concentrated. Next time I will do it a little better :D!