The Three Visions: A Photoshop Tutorial

Many of the Photoshop techniques I used are ones I found in online tutorials and then modified to suit my own taste. I figured I would share the steps I used to edit a photo into three different types of image. I began with a basic Photoshop HDR trick, and then made some little tweaks here and there to create the three final images, so here we go! And by the way, I will write this for people who are already pretty familiar with Photoshop and the basic tools and menus. If you have any questions please feel free to post them in the comments section 🙂

Here are the three final images I created:


Statue HDR


Statue Shadows


Statue Overlay

To create these images I began with this unedited photo I took in a SW Washington cemetery a while back:


I created the “Statue HDR” image first, here are the steps:

1. Once you’ve selected an image, first resize it if needed. My camera produces images with 300 pixels per inch, and I typically resize my images to 150 ppi to make them easier to work with and upload. Once you’re ready, go to Layers>Duplicate Layer and make a copy of the image. Name it Copy 1.

2. Set the Blending of Copy 1 to Overlay.

3. Now go to Layers>Duplicate Layer again to make a copy of Copy 1. Name this new layer Copy 2, and it will already be set to Overlay, since the layer you just copied was set to Overlay.

4. Go back and click on Copy 1. Go to Image>Adjustments>Desaturate. Now, on the same layer, go to Image>Adjustments>Invert. These two steps will turn Copy 1 into a B&W negative.

5. Click on Copy 2 and go to Filter>Other>High Pass. The High Pass filter has a slider bar that goes all the way from 0 on the left to 250 on the right. I usually start at 5 or so and gradually increase the number until I like the effect and I usually choose a number somewhere between 20 and 30, but play around and experiment to see how you like various levels of this filter.

6. Once you’re done with Copy 2, click on Copy 1. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Once again you have a slider bar and I also start at a low number with this filter and gradually increase it until I like what I see.

7. Click on the original layer, the image you started with, and go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation, then click the little Colorize box. This will change your real-color image into a single-color one. I tend to go for sepia most of the time, but use the Hue slider bar and see what color appeals to you.

That’s the basic process for creating the HDR image. I definitely encourage you to play with the filter settings, and play with the Blending: sometimes changing from Overlay to Soft Light can give a more subtle effect. Just play, you can always undo it!

In order to create the second image, “Statue Shadows”, I simply did the HDR steps, then went back to Copy 1, the B&W negative, and did Image>Adjustments>Inverse again. This will turn it back to a positive image and create a cool shadowed effect. This does not work for every image, it really depends on the individual picture and the various lights and darks and contrasts, but for some images it turns out quite interesting.

And in order to create the “Statue Overlay” image I first did the basic HDR process, then put a picture of a fiber optic lamp over it, at the top of the Layers list:


I set the Blending of the fiber image to Soft Light (though play with the different blending modes, sometimes Overlay looks better, or Hard Light, etc) and went to Image>Adjustments>Desaturate so the colors in the fiber image wouldn’t clash with the statue image. Then go to Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast to make the fibers (or whatever your overlay image is) lighter or darker for the best effect. I also moved the fiber image around so that the fibers fell on the statue image in just the right place, since the fibers are clearly more dense and bright near the bottom, which overwhelmed the statue.

That’s pretty much it. Get some pictures, play with filters and layers and blending, and make something cool!

A few more tips: Each of the layers can be played with, and sometimes small changes in one layer can drastically effect the final image. Brightness/Contrast and Levels can help if a layer is too bright or dark, or doesn’t stand out enough. Hue/Saturation can make colors vibrant or subtle.

Another effect I like sometimes is the Glowing Edges effect. Sometimes a final image is just too bright and washed out, so once I have my three layers (Original, Copy 1, Copy 2) I go back to the original and do Layer/Duplicate Layer again. This will give you a fourth layer that sits on top of the original in the Layers window, and underneath the two copies. On this fourth layer start by setting the Blending to Soft Light, then desaturate it. Now go to Filter>Stylize>Glowing Edges. Once the filter window pops up I like to set the Edge Width to the lowest setting (1), Edge Brightness to the highest (20), and Smoothness to the highest (15). Once you apply the filter you should see you overall image looking quite a bit darker, with a thin white line around all of the edges. I then like to go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur to soften that white line, and again you can play with all these settings and create all kinds of neat effects.