down the rabbit hole | by Cara Kiggins


Not really, but this image does have quite the “Alice in Wonderland” falling, magical feel to it. I’ve had many people ask how in the world I caught this moment, one person even asked if I threw my daughter out of an airplane, and I just want to assure everyone right now, that I absolutely did NOT, in fact, throw her from anything to achieve this and no daughters were harmed in the making of this photograph. 

Now that we have that all cleared up, I’m going to break down how this capture came to be and funny enough, it was not what I had originally planned. But sometimes a capture speaks to you and, boy howdy, you better listen because you just might end up with something magical!

I chose my 11 year old dancer daughter for this project because she is the most graceful person I know, and if there were ever a person who could pull off a graceful “fall”, it’s her! I shot this in my back yard with our…wait for it, (hint: it’s not an airplane) trampoline! Yep loves, just a simple trampoline with the safety net off because apparently safety was NOT first on this day.  Don’t judge.  Our trampoline sits in the back corner of our yard which is lined with these big beautiful Leland Cypress tress. 

So now that we’ve established the scene, lets talk gear and settings.  I shoot with a Canon 6D and for this particular capture chose my 24mm 2.8 for it’s wide angle capabilities to get as much of that background into the frame as possible, without losing my girl to it. My camera settings were; ISO 320, f/2.8 and 1/1000 sec to freeze every bit of that magical movement! I also set my shooting mode to “high speed continuous”. Then I had her jump as high as she could, and then told her to land on her back. After a little coaching, we got our shot! 

Here is my SOOC: 


Now to edit! First things first, let’s get rid of that eye sore of a trampoline.  I pulled my image into photoshop and used the clone tool to get rid of the trampoline and balance the tree line. I then pulled the image into Lightroom and using the brush tool on the sky, I increased the “clarity” and “dehaze”, and then decreased “saturation” to bring some moodiness to it.  


Then I stared at it for about an hour straight. Ok, so it probably was only like 5 minutes, but either way, the image was talking to me and telling me that something was missing and I was not to be done with it just yet. That’s when the “down the rabbit hole’ vision hit me.  I pulled it back into photoshop, copied the image, then in the tool bar,  FILE > NEW, and pasted it into the new blank file (hint: If you copy the image first, photoshop will auto fill the exact measurements of the new image for you based on the copied image measurements, so all you have to do is paste and it fits perfectly). Next I flipped the new image vertically so it was upside down like so: 

Next I copied the new upside down image and then pasted it onto my original, creating a new layer.  I used the mask tool on the new layer, then with the brush tool, painted it onto the sky, filling it in with the trees.  Once it was all tree and my falling girl, I used the dodge tool to lighten the highlights on the greenery making them pop more.  And Voila!   


Moral of the story, listen to what your image is telling you.  You just might end up with something completely magical! 

xoxo, Cara Kiggins

We'd love for you to check out more of Cara's amazing work on her Blog.  

Megan Boggs3 Comments