14 Jan 2012

Let small object "hang" in the air (with no postprocessing and a lot of fun)

The idea described here came during preparing a set of Xmas postcards for our family and friends. I had a number of little Christmas decorations that together with other bigger subject could make a nice composition. The final product (one of several) looks like this:
So the decoration hangs in the air (which is a quite normal behavior for an angel) and candles below it lit the subject a little bit. No Photoshop (or other software) has been involved in this photo. The hanging effect is achieved purely mechanically. Here's how the concept basically works:

Scene setup in bird's view
The subject is supported by an aluminium pipe that is placed horizontally. Now if the camera lens is put at the same height as the hanging subject, the subject hides the pipe completely and we have a hanging angel (or Santa, or whatever):
Scene setup showing orientation of a camera w.r.t. the support and the  subject
The direction of the aluminium pipe doesn't need to be exactly horizontal. Important is that it matches the line of sight of the lens and the pipe remains invisible behind the subject.
When basis is done the rest is to choose a proper lighting for the subject and decide what to do with the background. If one wants to try the setup here are some practical tips:
  • As a support for the pipe I have used an Lastolite umbrella stand with hotshoe swivel. The hole which is normally used for mounting an umbrella was used to hold the aluminium pipe.
  • It is convenient to be able to regulate somehow the length of the pipe. I started with the length of 1.35m but then I realized that the subject is too close to the background and light doesn't drop enough with this distance to have a close to black background. A length of 2.4m worked well.
  • To mount the subjects to the pipe I have used a removable adhesive from Tack-It. But any brand of course would be good as long as the subject is not too heavy.
If you are interested let me know, I can upload some more pictures showing the details of the setup.