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Levitation Examples

Lesson 29 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

Levitation Examples

Lesson 29 from: Fine Art Compositing

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

29. Levitation Examples


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

Levitation Examples

we're going to start with editing today and we did yesterday we did some levitation photos and we also worked on creating a dress out of nothing basically a really really cheap piece of fabric so that's what I want to put together right now we're going to put both of those together we're going to go through that process of editing a levitation picture to make sure that it looks seamless and beautiful and if you guys remember we did some shots yesterday where we had to photograph the subject's arm again toe add that on so we're going to be attaching a limb adding some hair on things like that and of course we're going to feature russ and the backdrop again because that's the theme that we're going through you know just trying to make the most beautiful images possible so we're going to continue with that but first let's take a look at some photo shop examples here so I have a couple open in photo shop and these are some images that I shot a while back now I would say at least a few year...

s ago at this point and this was when I was really getting a feel for how far I could push my imagination and how far he could push my techniques as well so this image that you see here I created this one hundred percent by myself so it's not like it's impossible to do something like this it's actually quite simple if you can find a light enough mattress so what I did was I found this headboard and footboard I think it was just like in a dumpster something like just free cheap simple to get and so I took the headboard on foot board put it in my car and then I realized that I couldn't get a mattress because mattresses are well kind of dirty if you find them for free on the side of the road not to mention they're kind of large to fit in my car so I happened to be visiting a friend and across the street was this baby mattress so I went over and I said hey about this baby mattress you know how long has it been sitting on the road and can I take it and they said oh we just put it out feel free to take it so I thought a little be better about that so I took the baby mattress and obviously did not fit on the baby mattress being a nearly full grown adult so I decided that I would crunch myself up to fit on the mattress to give the illusion that it was a twin size bed which I don't know if that really works who's clearly I'm far too big for this mattress but I don't tend to look at it and think oh that's that's way too tiny so let's go through this process of what it took to create this image I have open in bridge right over here examples of how I put this together so these are all of the j pegs that I ended up going through this was the first way that I shot it I went on location I found the backdrop that I really wanted the light was coming from behind kind of to the side so that remained consistent and the good thing about when I shoot is that usually you don't have very harsh lighting so it's pretty neutral and the only thing that we have here is you can see the sun had just started going down behind that mountain in the back here because of that we get a really nice highlight happening right on the bed and the picture frame and stuff like that so I really liked that and no matter how far that goes down that son until it's disappeared basically it's still going to have that same effect of light it's still going to be coming from the same direction even though you can't see it so that remained consistent throughout all of the images so what I did was I photographed this first and I just had this balance there it kept falling over so I would just catch it whenever it would fall over but I had it balanced I have a remote in my hand I believe right here and that was the shot that I knew would be the main shot here I would build everything from this picture so then I have this one where I'm trying to hold the footboard up there and I wanted to make sure that I got a shot of the mattress perfectly straight before I relied on this one as my main image because I didn't want to have to sort of shift this foot board up this direction in photo shop I thought I might as well just get it perfectly straight and then just add that foot board on later and the reason why I insisted on photographing the footboard with the mattresses because of the natural shadows that were occurring it was at the right height I could see exactly when it was square to the bed and when it wasn't and that really makes a big difference in terms of making it fit in that space so if I had accidentally tilted the edge of this in the background here further up by accident or further down than it should have been then that might not a fit with the bed in between the two posts if that makes sense so then I took a picture of myself laying on the mattress in a blank shot so I took a picture of myself laying down and made sure to just get that exactly in the pose that I wanted made sure that my head and shoulder and everything we're facing the white that way I still had that rim white and then I decided to rotate this so obviously I couldn't stick myself to the bed here and you no hope for the best and jump for it so instead I delay down on the mattress and then start to rotate so that's what I did and I noticed something in photo shop when I started doing that process which was that here we have really great rim light happening but over here we don't and that was a problem because of my feet now become the thing that's highest up in the air than it would catch the light even more than my head down at the bottom so that became something that I had to fix in photo shop so I took that blank shot and you can see that really not much is changing here especially from this shot to this one and in all of these I still have all the land in the picture so it's okay that I tilted down because above is just white here as well as here so I could just paint more white in the frame if I needed to expand that shot so I took the blank shot tilt it up again just because why I don't know why and then I put the image together so let's go into photo shop now with this process and take a look at what that was like some opening up photo shop here we're just going to scroll down to the bottom to find the initial image and that's how it started so like I said this was my main shot I started building everything from here and then I had to start to go I put pretty much in that order that I just showed you of adding images on a photo shop so I paid attention than to the footboard and I added that foot board on and you can see the shadow popping in there I didn't have to recreate that I just had to blend it from that image with the footboard now after this I had to add myself in because that's really the only thing missing now from this picture so I added my body and you can see that it's not right you can see that it's just too dark especially in this area and so that was something that I had to go about fixing that's the kind of thing that I would try my best not to do now I would try not to have that waiting in consistency and this would be a really good place to bring a white out on location if for some reason you couldn't get the same light happening because you're going to be moving something in your image than popping a little light in there and having more rim light carry on into the feet that would have been a really great thing to do so I got rid of my body they're just saying okay we don't want to of me in the picture and then I went on to add some clouds so I added in my clouds pretty subtle I didn't want it to overpower the image it all just add some interest back there because I tend not to like a bright white sky it just sort of distracts a little bit for me from the image so I went ahead and I added the sky and then I started adding light so this step here on layer for here is is really important for me in terms of beginning to change those lighting dynamics I'm not paying very much attention to the clouds but we can still see some detail in there mostly I'm paying attention to this area right through here and trying to brighten up the subject so there it happens again we're adding a vignette here don't through the bottom area and there were also bright ending up this top corner and this is really just enhancing where we understand the light to be coming from so when I take that off you can see that it seems pretty inconsistent and this for me is where a lot of my composites fall apart if I can't find that lighting consistency than I don't ever finish the piece so right now there's too much shadow right here and it's too bright right here and I'm too dark in that bed is too bright and when you have so many variations of light and shadow happening in a row then that starts to create I guess a sense of what the word is disbelieve ability a word good yeah it's a work we're gonna we're gonna go with that disbelieve ability okay so I've created some more light but still I don't have a rim light on the feet and that's something that is a little bit difficult to change up but I did do my best so I started adding even more sun flare and I thought the more sun flare that I can adhere the more it's believable that I don't just have a rim light but the light is wrapping around my body and so that helped a lot in terms of just making this overall brighter and not worrying so much about having a really harsh line of light around my body so I went on then and there we go this big change of my feats on brightening up the edges of my feet and it almost looks like I'm adding a new foot on here because of the way that the light is now hitting the feet but all I did was I just started selectively drawing a lasso right around here and then bright ning that area through curves and then there's one more so adding contrast and more like this is one of those images where it comes a long way from the lighting in the beginning and it's funny because we're doing this class all about compositing but I swear the biggest part of compositing is the light it has so little to do with actually blending one image with another because at the end of the day that is not the most difficult thing to dio the most difficult thing is to perceive the light and understand your world that you're creating within the image and then make the white match that vision and bring everything together so in this next part it's just getting all finished up here and I end my images very often by adding a texture which is something that we're going to do today but that's obviously not necessary so what we try to make sure of is that when I hit that final layer that I'm working on and I think ok it's all come together I like the lighter like the color that's when I'll then at a texture but I'd try never ever to add a texture just to make the image come together to cover something up bored to add cohesiveness it's great when that happens when the texture will bring something together but in an image like this I wanted to look good clean as well as with texture on it and there's a pretty good reason for that actually that I've only just come to terms with which is this idea that if we print a new image with texture and let's say that the texture is just not good enough quality to print or you need a lesson that a little bit because maybe with a forty inch print you notice that the texture is just too distracting whereas on your computer it looks fine well then I need to be able to take some of that texture down without uncovering mistakes and photo shop so I tried to just add the texture last and make sure that it is enhancing but not covering anything up so let's go ahead and take a look at the next example in bridge so I'm going into example to hear and that's this image that I did quite a long time ago on we looked yesterday at that levitation picture that was shot in a warehouse with the light streaming down this was shot in exactly the same spot just a very slightly different angle of the camera but same pool of light same dark background on and then you'll see a little bit of what that looked like to begin with here so the way that this started was like this you can see the background was not completely dark in this picture we have an old car and a beam and this the refrigerator back here and it's a really really fun place to take pictures but a little bit distracting I didn't see the reason why there would be a girl floating with a car in the background so they decided to just darken that all down later and you can see how much brighter our subject is in the background so that's a pretty simple darkening process which we can talk about us well in just a little bit here this was the main shot this was the shot where I decided I liked her pose a lot I love the feet I think she looks really beautiful and I thought that worked out pretty nicely you can see that I have kind of a wider table in here so when we're talking about levitation I wanted to make sure that she was comfortable enough and she wasn't trying to balance her hip on a little stool and and all of that and so I wanted to be able to do this just me and her so I did that as my main shot and then here we have some hair motion going on just to get a little bit more movement happening so it's a little bit more believable and I didn't bother with the dress here are the legs or anything like that I just took the hair from this picture and then I have some books paige is flying and I use these book pages to end up compositing in that final image which turned into this so I'm going to open this one up in photo shop is well and let's peel back some of these layers all right so when I go back down to the bottom and take a look we start with that one image that I just showed you this was the main shot the first one that I opened up in the photo shop and then everything started building on top of that so this is just a little bit of cloning getting rid of some of those table bottom the legs there and there's some new hair for her and then I got rid of that desk or table or whatever that wass and I'm adding some floor on there and then obviously that was a really big step so what happened here was I started darkening the background I started fading that darkness right around the edge here and that was really important for creating a believable falloff of light I tend to look at light and say okay I want this to be dark and I want this to be bright and there's already a line here so something that I could do if I really wanted teo would be to create a new layer in photo shop and just click my brush tool and perhaps select one of the darker portions in the background that way I have that color selected on my color palette just in case it's not completely black and then I could go ahead and just start painting black on my background and that's pretty much what I do on a regular basis is just to start painting so the problem here is that I'm covering up my subject and that requires a lot of masking that would require me to basically just paint out my subject of this layer that I just created unless she was already on a separate layer and cut out and that wouldn't be any problem at all so instead what I prefer to dio is to use the lasso tool and select wherever I think it needs to be darker just one big selection first and then if I need thio aiken now subtract from that selection to isolate my subject so by holding alter option I can now sort of come right in here this will be a little bit sloppy but I can come in here and just really generally she's got some dark legs gonna trace right around her and once I feather that then I will be able to have a selection here that might make a little bit more sense so I feathered it and the good thing about our subject everywhere but the hair is that she's so bright that she's in the highlight portion of this image is forest tonality goes the rest is in the mid tones and shadows so when I create a curve adjustment layer I can start to pull down that background but she is being largely preserved within this selection like I said I kind of selected a little bit too much around the legs but that's something that I would fix so I can make that a lot darker and I can keep going with that as much as I want now another little trick to this is that very very often if you have something with so much highlight she has a lot of contrast happening on her at the moment because we can see extreme highlights and some shadows happening in here the background wasn't so contrast ing but if I start to make this really dark and I leave her really bright than she looks cut and pasted into this scene and that is a big problem that I see in compositing is we so often think we just need to make background dark and I need to make my subject pop and then all of a sudden it doesn't look like they were lit the same way at all so we need two things we need a background that isn't totally dark with contrast and we need more believable falloff of light whenever we're creating a dark background so I would fix that by taking the shadow portion of my curve like we talked about the last two days and pulling that up a little bit to make it grey that way it doesn't have such extreme contrast so now that background is not stark black it's more gray and then when we make it a little bit darker we don't really have to worry about her popping as much but the second part to this is that we do need to take her body down a little bit in terms of light because she has a lot of highlight happening on her and we probably want to just tone that down a little bit so that's just a little bit of how that background might have been darkened and I'm going to go ahead and just get rid of those layers here and continue to build so you can see the background is dark but it is a little bit grey it's not pure black and there's good fall off happening at the edge of the darkness and that's something that would naturally happen with the white and you can't even see right in here at the at the beginning that back in here the light is not just ahh harsh line that's happening it's not like it's just black and white and they you see some fall off here and it's definitely brightest right where our subject is and I mean I can see that but I also know it because I did it I remember being there and I placed her right in the white okay so we've ended up with this step now and what we want to do is figure out how to finish this image this for me is composited we have the subject she has her new hair we have some book pages the background was looking okay but now I need to figure out what else needs to happen so I added a couple more book pages because I don't know I guess I was being very obsessive with detail in this one and out of the shadow which in hindsight I would have probably fix the shadow up a little bit so like we talked about yesterday with creating shadows you kanae either create a shadow let's see I'll just I'll make a shadow here let's pretend that needs a shadow too you can create a shadow by feathering your selection just do a big feller on then creating a curves adjustment layer and when I start to pull down on my curb from the mid tones we have that problem of contrast happening so the highlight is being maintained up at the top right portion of our graph and the shadow is being maintained and and when I say maintained what I mean is the dot that represents that shadow is stuck in that corner same with the highlight in the other corner so because of those two things they're not moving and if they're not moving than the highlight will remain a highlight the shadow will remain a shadow when I pull down in the mid tones that means that everything that's not a highlight or shadow is becoming darker but in this particular area we have bright pages on a dark floor so the dark is remaining dark the lights remaining light in the mid tones are creating this contrast effect of allowing the blacks to b block the white to be white and the mid tones to be a little bit darker and so this is a great example of where we would want to pull down from the highlight so you can see the difference there in those two shadows one is creating an even darkness over everything whereas the other is creating a lot of contrast maintaining the highlights and those book pages so you can kind of see that happening here in the shadow that I created just write in this portion where I feel that I could have probably knocked down those highlights a little bit more when creating this picture but the things you learn along the way so he rotated my subject because I thought a little bit stiff like a board in this picture and I don't like how horizontal she is I think I even do it again here so let's take a look I gave her a little bit of shape because her dress was just everywhere so I gave her some shape and I pulled that fabric up a little bit so that it had a nicer flow I mean I know looking at this image that I was holding that dress therefore I was creating a thumbprint in there and pulling on the dress and because I was pulling on the dress it created this little sharp a point and that's something that I don't like typically when I'm looking at flowing fabric or anything like that because it takes away from the believability makes it look like she's being pulled instead of like the dress is naturally flowing so I started rounding that out and then in some of these final stages here I added the color that I wanted into this picture I decided to make it more of a c p a tone and then the texture just helped to give it more of an old sort of old photograph painterly feeling I mean in my opinion

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 :)


Brooke has a wonderful way of not only making it all look so easy, but actually be easy. In a plain and down to earth manner, she can make both beginner and advanced pro comfortable with the material covered in this class. From a simple starting point to a polished post-production finished work of art, she takes us on a relaxed and joyous journey. I am a former professional commercial photographer returning to the art after a 30 year absence. When I left, there was no such thing as digital photography. Now, to be able to embrace such concepts and techniques as taught by Brooke, without any difficulty to me, says that this course provides great value and time well spent. Well done Brooke! Well done Creative Live!

Student Work