How to Create Gravity-Defying Photos Without Photoshop

You can flip the world on its edge in your photos without superhuman abilities. Paul Grogan of N-Photo gives us a couple of quick tips to make gravity-defying photographs almost anywhere. Grab some creative and willing subjects and check out how he did it in this video:

Find a Location

Find a location that could realistically be flipped on its side visually. Does the wall look like it could be the ground? Does the ground look like it could be a wall? Probably a grassy patch next to a building wouldn’t work if it looks like grass is growing straight out the side of the wall once it’s flipped. Do a little clean up of the area of garbage or leaves; stray items can ruin the effect if it seems like they’re clinging to the side of the wall, inexplicably defying gravity.

flipped world

Choose a location that’s conducive to this sort of optical illusion.

Get Creative

Get your subjects to think creatively about how to position themselves as if the world were sideways. A staircase can become a building ledge or a wall can be the ground to enjoy a magazine. Having subjects who are willing to get down on the ground is a bonus.

subjects on ground

Help your subjects get creative.

Camera Settings

With your subjects in place, line up your shot so the edges of the frame are parallel to the features in the scene. This way things that are horizontal will look vertical and vice versa. It’s better to make it straight in-camera so you have less correcting to do later on if you post-process the image. For this shot, Grogan recommends you use settings that facilitate a hand-held shot.

  • f/5.6
  • ISO 800

He shot in Aperture Priority mode so the camera would choose the best shutter speed for him, but chose these settings carefully. He made sure that the shutter speed would be fast enough so that when he shot hand-held, the image would be sharp.

falling from building photo

Flip your image to create the gravity-defying illusion.

Do you have any locations in mind for your own version of this technique? Get creative and give it a try!

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