The Levitating Lady

I have previously mentioned that I’ve been a little afraid of photographing people (see here!) and while that’s still the case, I am starting to get more comfortable with it.

I understand the basics of photographing people but have never had an opportunity to take it beyond theory. That was why I’ve dragged in family and friends to act as a model for me. These shots have come out well and I was happy with the results. The idea of going beyond that was a bit scary, particularly the idea of working with a professional model.

Well Allex Photography (@allexphotography) was never one to let me rest on my laurels and asked if I’d want to join him on a shoot he’d arranged with Janika Seppälä (@janikaseppala), a professional model from Finland. Allex wanted to create a beach themed shot and asked me to join him. I suggested we go to a beach, about 30 minutes north of Dublin, called Bettystown Beach and seeing as I was driving the rest of them didn’t have a choice but to say yes.

Allex had been planning this shoot for some time now and had some ideas in mind for what he wanted to create. The shoot wasn’t something I had really planned for. Nevertheless, a quick scan of Pinterest is always a good thing and within a few minutes I was feeling inspired. There was one shot I REALLY wanted to capture and that was the ‘levitating woman in the water’…. Sounds cool, right?

The shot is relatively simple. You use a chair in the water to prop up your model and get them to pose. In post production you remove the chair in photoshop and create the illusion that the person is levitating.

So for this shot, I needed a chair! Luckily IKEA was on the route to the beach and so we very quickly picked up a stunningly beautiful chair for €15. Here is that chair, I’m sure you’ll agree its simply stunning.

My trusty GreenScreen chair from IKEA

We set up around 4:30 pm, with the weather looking promising and arrived at Bettystown beach a short time later.

We quickly did some proper beach shots while the lighting was good and eventually made our way down towards the seafront where I sheepishly asked Janika if she would go into the water.  Thankfully, she agreed!

Resting the green chair in the water, Janika lay back on it resting her lower back on the chair. She raised her feet and arms into the air, almost as if falling and remained there while the waves crashed around her. I quickly got the angles right and set off shooting, hoping to capture the right movements in the water.

Within the space of a minute I had taken maybe 10-15 possible shots, with one or two that I felt were very promising.

I was eager to get home and loaded these straight onto my computer. Here is the final shot and I will explain show you the original and show you how it was done.


What do you think? not bad, right? It definitely looks like a levitating girl.





And for context, here is the original, unedited, untouched shot. While I am not 100% happy with the shot, it works. If I was doing it again I would try not to do it in moving water (either wait for a calm day or got to a lake instead), and I would put a little more thought into the composition of the shot. Nevertheless I’ve decided to post it here anyway to let it be a way of inspiring you to try something similar.


Here’s How It Was Created:

Steps to making this were in Adobe Lightroom:

  1. Change it to be Black and White
  2. Crop and level the shot.
  3. in Lightroom, click photo, edit in and select photoshop. It will ask you if you want keep the edits you’ve made in the version being sent to photoshop. Click the option that keeps the changes you’ve made.
  4. Once in photoshop, you can use the clone tool to copy regions of the picture and overlay it in other areas of the picture. I will link a video below that allows you to see this in action.
  5. Slowly and carefully, clone different parts of the water over the parts of the picture that contain the chair.
  6. For tips and tricks on how to use the clone stamp check out the video below
  7. Touch it up using the healing, dodge or burn tools (darken or lighten areas) until you get it to a point where the chair is gone, and the remaining water looks natural.
  1. Export the image from photoshop and Viola…. your photo is ready to post!

I have to admit I am happy with how this came out. Is it perfect? No! Ideally I wouldn’t have done it with moving water. The edit and shot may have worked out better on a calm day or if we had gone for a lake rather than the sea. Maybe if you are trying this then you can try it in steady water and tag me in the final picture on Instagram.

While I had only intended to use the green chair for this particular shot, I think I might keep it around. Its going to be handy to have for a few more shots.

‘The Floating Photographer.’ Shot by @allexphotography and edited my me.

Follow me on Instagram @maguirc5 for more shots and tips.

Here are some more of the shots taken on the day:



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