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Shoot: Levitation Poses

Lesson 27 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

Shoot: Levitation Poses

Lesson 27 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

27. Shoot: Levitation Poses


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Why Composite ?


Logic Checklist


What Not To Do When Compositing


Shooting for Composite


Changing Backgrounds and Light


Shoot: Simple Swaps Part 1


Lesson Info

Shoot: Levitation Poses

we're going teo play the tripod first and we're going to take some shots with their camera locked down and I'm just going to go through the motions here of what needs to happen tio take a successful levitation shot or at least what I hope will be does anybody happen have a coin I nearly lost my tripod plate last night but I saved myself by actually putting it exactly where it goes oh thank you thank you very much okay I'm just tightening my plate because I had it off last night so as not to destroy the hotel tables because I was using a hotel table is my tripod and I am going to secure this down and get this all set up so I currently use a ball head tripod and I used tio not use a ball head tripod for the simple reason that I wanted to be on a panning and tilting access where I couldn't let the camera flop because I wanted to be able to pan until exactly on the access that I was set at but now I find that I try to take safety shots a lot so instead of just being on that access I'll jus...

t take lots of pictures everywhere so I actually have more control now with the ball head but it's just sort of a shift in how you think about shooting I guess so I'm going to go ahead and lower this tripod right now because like I mentioned I want to be lower than my subject so I do not want my subject to be shorter than me in fact you know what let's do that first just so we can see the real problem that's going to arise here from doing that because I think that it's a really important thing to mention in fact this is taking too long so I'm just going to it hand held for this first one just the show since I'm not going to go through with it what that looks like so let's grab the stool actually I can grab it because I have arms and I could do things thank you okay so we have a stool which is really really a good one here because it doesn't swivel I don't know if you guys have ever tried balancing on a swivel stool very difficult on dh very dangerous it also is sort of rounded on the edges downward and you know you might think why are even saying this because this is such a stupid little detail I agree but I'm going to hurt my subject if I don't talk about this so it is rounded on the edges and I'm going to put this fabric here is well because we're going to have her meaning back on this stool and I don't want to hurt her tailbone or spine or anything like that so I'm going to have that they're for her it's a really tall stool which is really great because then I don't have to fake the height by getting down really low I don't have to worry about her head and her feet like flopping on the ground if the stool is too low and she tries to bend backward than her head is just going to hit the floor also not a good thing and it doesn't have a back to it which is just a little bit less work you have to do later so if there's a back to this and it's sort of like this and this is your chair then when she weighs down the back is going to stick up from her midsection and then that's just one more thing you have to a race so again not a terrible thing it's not gonna be the end of the world but you know we definitely want to try to avoid that I'm not going to let you get on the store yet so hold on because we're going to be safe about this who wants to spot me ok I trust you rene we spent a lot of time together me and her okay so I go I'm going to do it this way but I don't flash anybody and I am awful at this so the fact is that if I can do this six somewhat successfully than anybody else could do it even better I have been practicing this for years and it's awful okay here we go so I'm going to get a little bit comfortable here and I'm going to trust her to hold my back and then lower me down yep you're doing great just let me know for me to let him no don't let go so this is sort of the general pose are you holding me a lot okay let's lift up so that's one of the poses that we can go for and if we're actually going to do that and if I were a more trusting person I would have done it differently so I'm gonna work on this now we're going to trust you a lot and I actually need to start with my butt a little bit lower to get the lower back on the edge of this store it's so tall that I'm like really too short for this okay there we go I'm good now so we're gonna put it lower yeah ok I did it huh it's the rest of the class so here a minute really traditional levitation pose and here I don't have many options were doing things myself like moving my hair and my dress and stuff like that you look me up oh thank you so if I were about two inches taller that would be way easier for me to do because I can't get up here without a stool really that's the sort of shimmy my back on there so you're gonna have a much easier time with that that is the fact of the day so that is one way that we compose with levitation a simple back bend and I tend to shoot these just profile to my subject because I think that gives the most dynamic pose in terms of being able to see the body shape and stuff like that the trouble is that if I were to go back like this and the camera were looking straight in my head then you wouldn't really see my body very much because it would be I'd be covering it with my head so I had to be a little bit careful with poses like that you could sort of do a superman pose like this well I don't recommend get ever posing like that maybe you're like five years old but that's the one option that you khun dio something like that if you want to try to be more elegant and graceful than you khun try sitting on the side and sort of doing something like that where you're sort of clean this requires stomach muscles I don't have any and then they can get a little bit more complicated as well so one thing that we can dio is lean like this I'll do it from this side too when you conceive a little bit better so you can lean like that and that's going to create this sort of diagonal pose and then I can go ahead and easily move my dress from here and do a lot myself the only thing with that is that obviously you have an arm missing from the equation cause I'm leaning on it and if you were to erase it out and I'm just leaning like this that would look really weird so that's when you would want to photograph the arm separately and that's when the swapping of the limbs comes in really handy so in this case instead of having it like this we might want to photograph it like this or like that or in any other position but that pretty much and that would be really good so then we have even more complicated poses of being half on the ground and half not on the ground I'm totally not going to do that it will go badly okay so let's get to shooting some of this now I'm going to shoot this from above like I mentioned just to show the angle that we really don't want to get so let's test this out we've never done this together before we're going to see how it goes so let's have legs this way just because I don't want to flash anybody I'm looking out for you okay now let me know if you want a hand who wants to be the official spotter yeah come on up if you think you're strong enough okay because I'm not strong enough so I always need somebody else to help okay you're doing good yet we might need to scoot you this way but I don't know yet so you just let me know where you feel balanced okay great so that looks amazing so keep holding her for now until I get my camera set and normally I would have my camera set before asking somebody to do that but in this case I did not okay so let's just take a quick shot here and I'm going teo actually really really fast grab the apple box if you need to sit up you sit up at any moment in time it's totally fine so I'm getting an apple box because I'm still too short and there we go so now I'm just going to take a really quick shot here beautiful ok so here is the issue with shooting from above so the issue is that now I can see her intersecting with the floor here so her her I still wasn't really high enough but the problem is that I can see the top of her and I can't see anything of the bottom of her and so the lower am the higher she's going to look but the biggest problem here then with shooting from too low is that then we'll see the bottom of the stool instead of seeing her back and that is hard to dio in photo shop so let's get you in that position one more time I know you're you're in for the long haul good getting the angle and I'm going to show you why I would not shoot it from this low I'm going to get even lower we're going to make this kind of bright too so we can see what's happening here great okay you can relax okay so shooting it from that low yes she looks very high off the ground and that is an amazing thing but now we can see the bottom of the stool instead of seeing her back so for level with her even just slightly below that's great because then we have an easy clean line to cut against but when we start to see the bottom of the stool in the fabric down there from the position underneath then maybe we can sort of cut along here and that might be okay but it creates some problems when you get that lo have to reconstruct the back so instead now we need to get up a little bit higher even though she looks amazing from that low it looks really good she's really high up in the air but the other problem here is that this arm is greats we can cut around here but then this arm has stool going in front of it so we need to make a decision are we going to clone that out later are we going to shoot another arm in this situation or are we just going to move her arm and so I usually just move the arm typically I have gone through situations where I haven't could you shoot her standing up like with the arm positions like that is it yes exactly okay so I have ah siri's of images which might actually be in this presentation and I'm not sure because maybe I just didn't click far enough ahead and I stopped early but they're um I do have images a lot of the time where I sort of put them back in the position that they need to be in and then photographed the arms like this that the lights generally hitting where it needs to go and everything's kind of there and so if I rotate it you're not going to notice too much and that's a really great option and the only thing is that maybe the shadows won't be entirely consistent but it'll be pretty close to consistent so that's not really what I'm worried about there so you definitely we could do that so let's go ahead and actually set this up now let's pick an angle for our tripods we need to be locked down now I'm going to pick an angle that's just slightly lower than how I have this tripod at the moment and I'm doing that because I think it will be a little bit lower than level with her if I get down to this height so let's take a look that looks good okay I'm going to set this up that and what I need to pay attention to now is what my settings are on my camera so I need to make certain that I um don't have a lot of motion blur and I say that because I want to move her to another background so I don't want to worry about having the ghosting cloth and then have to worry about not being able to get that somewhere else because I don't want to keep her on a black backdrop I would like to move her to a different situation if possible so I'm going to take a look and see what my settings need to be and try to just maintain shutter speed that's above I would say one fiftieth of a second that's really where my comfort zone is there and I'm going to basically ignore the I s o right now and see where it needs to be I also know that I'm really really bad at focusing something else to keep in mind so I'm not going to try to go toe like one point four on my camera right now but we'll see how far I can push this and what's going to be good and what's not so I'm just adjusting the camera so I can see everything and I'm going to try to get my focus here we'll see what that looks like so I actually really like that exposure I'm nearly in focus so I'm going to use live you two focus which I was just taught how to do is the most thrilling thing of my life which I guess most people already know but I did not know that okay so now my cameras and focus I'm going to take another test shot and my settings on that one fiftieth of a second of two point eight and I s o sixteen hundred and like I showed you guys before I will be denoix zing my image so I already know that about that so I'm not terribly concerned with with the noise that might be in the image but my subject is also really nicely exposed so she's naturally going to have a little bit less grain where she is nicely exposed so that's pretty good okay we'll do a traditional back bend levitation shot so before you do that I always I try to save my models I try not to have them hanging in that position too long I try to let them know immediately when they can get up sometimes I forget like when I'm talking to you guys right now I forget that but I'll try not to so I'm going to take my camera I'm going to make sure that I am set exactly as I want exposure I like that I know that she's in focus she's not going to move because the stool isn't moving so she doesn't have much option of where she's going to pose but one fiftieth of a second I have a manual focus lens if I didn't if I was using a lens that could auto focus than I would be on auto focus right now or I would just manually focus from the beginning but I'm not great at manual focus so I would probably be on auto focus auto focus on my subject once she's in her pose and then immediately just flipped emmanuel knowing that she's not going to move in this picture because she's stuck on that stool so let's go ahead and we're going to get you in position and you look beautiful in each of these shots so don't change anything and you can actually change one thing you can take your arms and set them on your stomach like that yeah okay great okay so we've got our shot you may relax that was very quick so we have a shot and there are a couple things that I want to do to this picture so I can see the hair really nicely I think that's fantastic there's enough light over here I was wondering if there would be but there actually is I think there's enough light over here on her face we have enough light on her hair we've got you know good sort of definition in the legs and the arms I don't know see any of that underside of the stool now because we corrected that with the height and angle of our camera and so now I'm just thinking well it's kind of boring like I need to have some action here so even though her hair looks beautiful I want some motion in her hair and even though her dress looks nice and I can use this I want her dressed also come up at the same time so let's go ahead and do that so you can still hold onto her with one hand you were holding with one here great so yeah and just flick her hair with the other and then who wants to be addressed over come on so now with the dress flew for we need to not block the light so if you continue you know what to do you're making this demo very bad getting no you sit there have a walk so no so we need her to not block the light so if she were standing here then we wouldn't have enough light on our subject so she's just going to stay back behind let the light come through and all she's going to do is take a hold of this dress and move it around like this for me that way I have some motion happening in the dress and then the very end I'll just tell her to drop it like that so I can get a couple different shots what I don't want to dio is have her yank the dress out and then drop it in like that because when she is horizontal it will just go like that and it will reveal much okay so everybody other jobs and positions okay I know mine it's right here I don't have to touch anything and that's the point here is that I'm locked down my focus is locked I don't want to do anything in this process and if I were a nicer person I would just put it on a timer and go do this myself with her but you know minions yeah cheer override okay so yeah you guys look fantastic all right so let's see let's go for the hair first so whenever you're ready I will catch that okay good try to get underneath a little bit more okay okay good we've got a couple hair shots can you actually move your body this way not you don't yeah you you okay and whenever you're ready with that hair okay we've got some hair movement now let's get the dress so what kind of like that yeah kind of like that lovely now do a little bit of this yeah okay okay I like it one more up and down yeah I got it okay now let's do one where you just flew in like a good oh beautiful so we're right at the top of my frame right now in terms of getting the cloth inside the shots and I'm good with that because even though thank you even though none of these pictures had the perfect dress movement that's something that I can easily do later so with the warp tool with rotation and stuff like that I could just sort of buck that dress up where I wanted to create a shape that I might like a little bit better than this but at least I have something to work with instead of it just being a flat dress on her legs like the shots before so that's really good I'm happy with that I think that you know this would kind of make a solid image can we go back to the shot of the hair just to take a peek at that because I didn't get to see that pop up but I think the hair was okay too now the reason why I'm focusing so much on all this motion is because of that believability aspect so if you ask me oh yeah I like that hair good motion so the problem with doing a levitation images just like what we were talking about before which is that idea of creating a new world that you are putting your own physics into but you have to make somebody believe that world so if we're creating levitation image and we're creating an image where the impossible is happening then the impossible still has to make sense so it doesn't make so much sense to have somebody floating but then having their hair and their dress fall to the ground because of you their bodies floating than everything should be floating or at least that's my logic and they're certainly situations where that doesn't have to be their situations where maybe somebody's being pulled up by their chest or something like that and that would be a really fun shot to dio but in general if you're trying to give that effect like somebody is floating weightless ll ethan their whole you know deal would be moving have as you know I seen maleficent there's the shot in that movie of the little girl sort of like floating through the forest you guys know what I'm talking about and that was such a good example of levitation because her whole dress was billowing and her hair was billowing and it just made sense to see that but if she had just been straight and her dress was falling and her hair was falling then it wouldn't have been nearly as dynamic of a shot so I thought that was a really great sort of example of this and why it matters I guess and and that's a really important to me so let's do one more example of this I don't think we need spotters on this one we might need a flu for but I can do that so I'm gonna have you lean on this one so we're going to do a horizontal shot here so I'm gonna have you yeah have you lean this way so you just lean on this arm if you can you can just lean on your elbow and then put both your legs out but don't slip are you good like that okay yep ur perfect so I'm going to recompose so I just want to make sure you could do it so you can relax for a second I know that one's a lot easier isn't it yeah it's no I'm re composing here I didn't take a blank shot because I forgot I just got so let's just be honest here and say brooke you failed and you'll do it better next time so that's what I'm going to do better next time I'm going to continue to back just so I could be sure that I can fit all of her body in and once I am certain of that I'm going to refocus so I'm getting my focus again and once I have that I'm focusing on the stool edge here and once I have that I'll be good to go all right so I've got my new focus I'm just going to make certain that everything still looks okay with exposure and now what I want to do is I'm going tio put this on my ten second timer and the reason why I'm putting us on the ten second timer is because I want to go help her this is how I do a normal levitation shot where I don't have people with me to help me I would just get her in position and once she is I would run over to her and click the camera with a ten second timer while moving the dress so let's go ahead and do that now your other arm um where should her other arm be let's make a group decision uh huh like this perfect yeah just like that over a little bit more yeah and look out toward the light oh pretty ok now are you in my frame no okay we're going to do this I promise but you can stand up again cause I need to recompose because I need to make sure that I actually get her in this picture so I'm going to go portrait style on this one instead because I think that will really help us out here okay all right get in that position real quick ah yes now we've got it yes okay so I am going to now going to keep it on a ten second timer and I'm gonna run over to her so ten seconds is going and I'm going to move this dress and hope that it catches at just the right moment okay you can relax see I remember to save relax when I'm like the one actually helping things that makes a really big difference all right so I'm gonna take a look I'm just going to make sure that everything looks pretty nice and I actually really like that shot so that's good now we need to get the other arm well the other arm be in a ballet pose with the other one down on the side like this like this okay let's do it because you like to make things difficult for me I think all right you know let's do a hard one because we want a repeat of the brook sitting on russia's lap thing all right so now I am going to move this stool but I am marking where it wass uh I know that didn't work I thought maybe my shoes were dirty I was going to scuff it um does anybody have like yeah that's great a pen that was never gonna happen okay so I'm just marking where that stool was because we're still going to do a couple shots here with our model before we take the blank shot let's go ahead and move the store okay so now what I want to do is pose that other arm you've got it already I need you in generally the same position and I want you to rap that arm actually around yep just like that and pull it up a little bit and then crowe your fingers like this yeah just like that and then as much as you can lean the better yep she got it oh I put I'm taking the ten second timer off there we go great I was fantastic okay so now that we have that I'm going to get just a little more dress movement before I tell her she can go so she's still standing in the same spot we have the spot where the stool was marked here so why don't you take just to step up to this line right here so then you're in the center of my shot and I'm just going to move the dress now just in case we need to add some dress on so now even though she could totally do this herself I'm going to do it on the ten second timer and I'm going to very inconspicuously be behind her how did that work out we'll see I think it didn't well okay that's not too bad not too bad okay so we've got some good motion to work with there I'm happy enough I know that I can cut myself out I look like a ghost in this picture is that how you look in real life it must be so ok that's all good so now maybe some hair motion just cause can't be too safe so if you wouldn't mind leaning your head again yep because now we know where the hair needs to be it was already falling here so I'm just going to do a little bit of that for this final image and I'll do that for you come on a roll here apparently take a little half step that way okay e I got nervous to grab her hair again I thought I was going to be like a cougar link with hair okay you can do it yourself you know what I want try once more we're going to get it maybe I like that reaction at least better than just laughing okay not bad so we've got some hair motion there that's what I'm looking for now I can take the blank shot now if you were on auto focus you would definitely want to switch to manual focus now you would want to politely ask your subject to leave the space thank you I'll move the pen too just for safety and now I can just take that blank shot on my tens like in tiger because we have all the time in the world so high not just leave it on the ten second timer okay so we have a blank shot the reason why this shot doesn't matter right now is because we're on a black seamless backdrop if I wanted to just pink the stool out from under her I could do that if I wanted to move her to a different background it wouldn't matter if I had a background shot of this set so what I want to do now is let's pretend like we have a really awful situation here we don't even have that we have stuff in the background so let's do this one more time with stuff in the background so we'll do the easy shot again I'm not going to make her back bend anymore but why don't you come over here and I think since we're having such good luck with russ in the background we should just do that and so you better stay really still ross I know you're like I'm actually working brooke I can't do it uh okay so same pose and I'm going to recompose here and refocus and make sure that I can see you okay so let me quickly get my focus all right well man that's that's tough that focus okay great so on my stolen a ten second timer yes all right you hold that russ like for a really long time okay so now we need the arm so you can just go ahead and hold on there tio yep just like that okay go ahead and call those fingers a little bit yeah great good okay so we've got that shot and now we need the background shot we're not gonna worry about hair right now we're just trying to let him not be in that pose any more so our model khun step away our background cannot move at all I just make things terribly difficult for myself all the time okay so now if we could get the shots put up you may relax background if we could get the shots pulled up of that blank shot that I just took and the first one of our subject in her posed I want to see how nicely our background stayed put we'll see if this worked consistency okay so let's pull up actually the one of her in the scene with russ and the background shot of rest and we'll see how that's going to go there we go other one no now the background shot because we want to see how well they match up and once we see that we will know exactly if this is a possibility so me and that's not bad I am impressed consistency brooke I know you're good I can learn a thing or two from you okay I like it I like it all right so let's move on from levitation right now and we're going to talk about dressmaking but do you guys have any questions about levitation before I move on from that and rene does yeah go ahead rene one looking little question about the black fabric is that for comfort or is it for editing both comfort I needed some pad for her so that she wouldn't hurt herself and then um who was it kelsey back here said do you want this black fabric was like oh yes because I want to hear about editing as much so it was a happy accident because I was about to use a nightgown when I had back there yeah so matching that is always really good but at the same time I'm probably going to end up a racing at anyways so yeah but I always try to have a pad now because I've injured people just lately before mild injury a couple of them we've got here one from boucher so what method is brooke use on self portrait it's timer remote well usually the timer because I've usually lost my remote so I have a hard time keeping track of it but it it depends on how difficult the position is and what what needs to be done and if I can bring somebody with me or not and um but yeah I mean I prefer or no certainly and then a good one from irene stevenson when working solo how do you get your focus when there's no one there to focus on I focus on the stool and that's exactly what I was doing with our subject here I wasn't focusing on her ever I was focusing on the edge of the stool where I knew her body would be level there on dso when I'm by myself I'm not say doing this kind of levitation image I bring a second tripod with me and I focus on that tripod and then I moved the tripod out of the way I try to just use like a really inexpensive goodwill tripod that kind of thing so I'll focus and always take the tripod with it aside and then it goes flying down the street but it's okay because this just for focus no that's what I typically d'oh we have carry brands who says if I were having multiple subjects shot separately levitating in one composite well when I said the focus I think that's just a choice you have to make to begin with I think that it would not be smart to focus on each individual element unless you're compositing them into another background where you have the option of blurring whatever it is you've just cut out so I would say that if you have multiple people like um I don't know I thought I just wanted to jump up here I'm going to sit here and you're levitating there okay you're very good eh so we're levitating and and you're slightly behind me and I'm slightly yeah good I'm slightly in the foreground I would just say which one is more important in this picture and I think that's obvious obviously we'll focus on that dais so uh but you just have to decide character wise who should be the focal point here or maybe just adjust your aperture to try to include more and you'll focus in your focal plane but leaders have to make that decision first and work from there thank you

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Logic Checklist
Must Have Shots
Favorite Photoshop Tools
Lighting Effects
Practice Files - Cutting out Hair from Background
Practice Files - Building a Dress
Practice Files - Swapping Hand
Practice Files - Levitation
Adorama Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Logan Fox

I'm so thrilled to have come across this course and to have been introduced to Brooke Shaden. As a bit of background I do photography as a hobby, and always had an appetite to composite my work. It's only after watching this course that I can finally put a name to a craft that I love, that being 'fine art photography'. Through my own personal journey I've read various books, followed online tutorials both paid and free. When I came across this course I did hesitate. I wondered 'is it going to teach me anything new'... 'would the standard of the course be up to scratch'. Well, I can honestly say with hand on heart that this is by far is one of the best courses I've come across to date. As a solo photographer myself I've found it difficult at times to be both photographer and subject at the same time. From the outset what became clear was that Brooke is just like me in this respect which made the course so 'relevant' to what I do. Brooke shows throughout the course what can be achieved with a little planning and some creative approaches to situations that can be difficult to pull off when on your own. She is such a joy to watch and listen to, I loved her sense of humor and great how the audience were involved in some of the shoots. All I can say is, if you're in to photography and interested in compositing your work, you should give this a go, you wont regret it!


I'd like to show my gratitude and gratefulness to Ms Shaden and other wonderful people at CreativeLIVE for sharing your vast knowledge without making a fuss. Not everybody has a super computer and a top-notch camera, not everyone has a studio to work in and not everyone needs to know everything as perfectly as some instructors and professionals do. I, for one, have gained so much insight and have been intrigued by Ms Shaden's present and past lessons, she makes the most difficult and surreal subjects unfold so easily and effortlessly. Ms Shaden has made me believe no matter where I be and no matter what i have, as long as i have a good story to tell, and the right vision, I should be able to handle it with a working camera and any version of Photoshop. Unlike many other instructors who kill us every 5 minutes to buy their flashes or gear and support this or that company and agency, Ms Shaden has spent the whole time teaching and teaching and teaching and I am sorry I cannot be there to thank you in person, but you, Ms Shaden, are awesome and nobody can unawesome you :)


I have been a huge fan of Brooke's work since the beginning of the flickr days. I'm so excited to see her in her element on CL. So many years ago i was so very interested in learning and creating and CL makes this possible now. A lot of my work has been inspired by Brooke's dark yet beautiful work style and i am super inspired to create some using her advice. I cannot wait to delve deeper into this world i have been waiting so long to indulge in it and now i will even more so than i have the last 3 years. Thank you Brooke and CL ! =) Sarina Gito Photography (

Student Work