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How To Capture Gravity-Defying Portraits

Gavin Hoey shows you how a little sideways thinking can give your portraits a creative twist.

| Portraits and People

At first, capturing an anti-gravity portrait sounds like it could be a complicated process however, as Gavin Hoey shows in his tutorial, it's actually a rather straightforward process and you don't need too many props / pieces of equipment either.

To alter reality, all you need is a key light, a background light and props that will create the anti-gravity feel. As it's an anti-gravity portrait you also need a model who needs to lay on the floor and when directed, hold positions that make it look like they are actually stood up. 

Gavin says you really need to think about the direction of light as it needs to replicate how the light would look if they were stood up. For his image, Gavin wants it to look like the model is leaning up against a wall and as a result, needs to light the scene to reflect this. Gavin uses a key light on a boom arm to light his model as well as a Speedlite on the background to give some definition between the floor and back wall. A standard 60-watt household bulb on a long wire features in the set-up but it's not used for lighting as this is the prop that will be used to enhance the anti-gravity feel. 

After setting up, which includes getting the right meter reading, you'll see Gavin directing his model so she knows how to hold her head, book and body so she looks as if she's leaning against a wall rather than laying on the floor. 

As with all Gavin's tutorials, there's a really good section on Photoshop editing at the end which shows us how the final image is brought together. As Gavin only had one lightbulb but wanted multiple to appear in the scene, this involved blending multiple shots of the bulb, captured in different positions, together with the image of his model. Even if you don't want to capture an anti-gravity style portrait, you can learn how to use layer masks to blend multiple images together so it's still worth a watch. 

To see more of Gavin's tutorials, take a look at the Adorama YouTube channel. You can also learn how to make awesome backgrounds from smoke and pick up a few panning techniques from Gavin over in our technique section. 

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