This weeks digital imaging task is levitation. The final  image above is a “selfie” created using a tripod and timer delay on the camera. The technique is straight forward in that the camera is set to manual to properly expose for the (empty) background and then a shot with the same settings of myself stood on a stool with arm outstretched and appearing to balance on one finger.

The image is completed in photoshop by opening both images and then creating a 2nd layer in the background image by cutting and pasting the “levitation” image over it. Then using the eraser tool / masks carefully remove the stool to leave the impression of levitation.

Original Images :-

levi_01__MG_6032 levi_02__MG_6033








The advantage of this technique compared to the cloning tool is that complex backgrounds are much more easily accommodated, see notes on the composite signs image. The background above was deliberately chosen because of the varying texture / features of the paving, low wall and fencing which would have been time consuming and difficult to replicate using the clone tool whereas the eraser tools reveals the background exactly as it is.

The day following the briefing –  which included some images from Matt Siber an American art photographer (www.siberart.com) who did a series of fast food bill boards appearing to float in the sky – was a cold, cloudless day so decided to shoot some signs en-route to college.

The plain blue skies make for relatively straightforward cloning to mask out the supporting infrastructure. As the original inspiration was the fast food series I decided to use the local McDonalds, the huge, elevated billboards common in the USA are not permitted here but I was able to get a shot of the sign against the sky with the roof and sign on the restaurant building giving some context to the image. I would have liked to take the shot more “straight on” to provide some separation from the light behind the sign but this wasn’t possible due to some fencing between McDonalds and the neighbouring property.

Original Image :


Using the clone tool and magnetic lasso tool to create masks, usually inverted, I cloned out the lamp stand around the sign and down to the roof. The most difficult area was where the post joined the sign, as masking it level with sign made it obvious the post had been deleted, so the area of the bottom of the sign was cloned to disguise this. Additionally the area below the restaurant roof on the left was quite tricky to recreate with clone tool and additionally the line of red lights was distracting so with some judicious cropping a final image was created :


Another floating sign image, taken at Greenbridge retail park, whilst appearing simple has some deceptively sophisticated cloning to recreate natural looking clouds  and  plant where the post was originally and additionally some detailed masking for the area between the upper and middle signs. I did consider photographing the background behind the sign as per the levitation “selfie” but decided alignment of the images from 2 positions would be equally difficult so opted for the cloning procedure.

Original Image :


Final Image :


The last technique explored was a composite of a number of images taken.

Original Image :


The wide expanse of blue sky was an invitation to add some more signs in addition to the lamp standards which I intended to make floating. The lamps looked best with some of the original pole left in place and these were “rounded off” in the sky by using elliptical marquee tool the same diameter as the width of the post. I then used elements of other shots I had taken that day – being careful to try and keep the lighting consistent when positioning the elements. The elements were masked and cut mainly using magnetic lasso and then pasted into the original image, sometimes using scale and rotate when placing them. Lastly it was a concious decision to leave the “no through road” warning firmly attached to its post as I think this creates some tension with the rest of the image.

The most difficult elements are where the poles cut across more complex backgrounds i.e. to clone and reconstruct the areas where the lamp posts reach the ground against varying backgrounds compared to the sky areas, such as in front of the tree / hedge / ground, in front of the hut/ railings and across the road / shadows – in fact part of the centre post has been left in the image – hopefully it looks like a barrel in front of the hut 🙂

Lastly I decided to crop to a square format as I felt this gave a better overall composition.

Final Image :



This entry was posted in Digital Imaging.

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