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A Tranquil Photograph Turns Chaos to Calm

Updated on May 21, 2013

How To Make a Lackluster Photo Enticing

This is the photograph I experimented with when I learned how to get more out of a lackluster photo . I love the composition, the way the lines invite the viewer into the scene.

But there was something out of sync between the way I felt when I was on site, and the way the photograph makes me feel, looking at it on the screen.

Now, I'll share how I learned to transform the ordinary shot into one of stunning beauty. It involves a little trick that managed to evade my notice for all the years that I've owned a digital camera.

Even before I bought the camera I owned an application called PhotoDeluxe, that was geared towards amateurs. My trusty 35mm camera had long since retired into the ranks of the camera-infirm, contently playing out its days in the seclusion of my tattered, but still cushy, camera bag.

One could hardly call me a pro at picture taking, although my former photographs possessed a measure of intrigue, and slides of my artwork gave it a fair showing. I bought a 1.25mb digital camera at a close-out sale, and felt like i suddenly owned the world.

With the little camera I shot most of my early Squidoo lens photos, but seldom printed out any prints. Eventually its limitations caught up with me, since the largest artwork file I could print out (and still retain quality), was very small.

Once I got my DSLR into my hands my photo world changed, and I bought PhotoShop Elements, as a starter photo app. I missed the shortcuts from PhotoDeluxe, and found it challenging to learn to navigate on my own. Where Deluxe had guided me, using steps which had become second nature, Elements required trial and error education.

I consider the first edition chaotic in that it lacks the calming focus of the finished image.

This one simple step can change the way you view and show your photos.

photo credits: I took all the photographs

What is Your Favorite Photo Editing App?

Do you think PhotoShop is the best application for making photographs zing?

The Final Edited Photograph of Calm

How I Made the Changes

Open the Application

1. Select Layer/Duplicate Layer

2. Click "Layers" on the Menu Bar

3. Name the New Layer "high pass" and Click "OK"

4. Change from "Normal" to "Overlay" in the Layers Column on right

5. Highlight "Overlay" in the Layers Palette.

6. Click on the High Pass layer in the Layers Palette to select it.

Under Filers on the menu bar,

Go to "Other"

Click on "High Pass.

Enter a number between 5 and 10 in the little dialogue window

7. Change the opacity of the high pass layer to 50; slide it further towards 100, and let it stay where the pic looks best

8. Save your file

The advantage in working in this manner is that your original file lies unaltered. You have added a layer which you can alter or leave alone, and simply hide, to create another new layer on which to work other high pass changes.

Open Your Image Now

Open Your Layers Palette

1) Select "Duplicate Layer"

From the drop-down Layers list on the Palette on the right side.

2) Click "Layers" on the Menu Bar

Select Layer/Other

and Click "High Pass."

3) Name new Layer "High Pass"

Or, give it another name that makes sense to you.

4) Change from "Normal" to "Overlay"

in the Layers Palette on the right.

5) Highlight Overlay in the Layers Menu

Select Layer/Other/High Pass from the Layers palette on the right, or on the drop-down list from the Layers on the menu bar.

6) High Pass Layer

Highlight your High Pass Layer.

Go to "Filters" on Menu Bar

Go to "Other"

Click on "High Pas

Enter a number between 5 and 10 in the small window box

and Click "OK."

7) Slide Layer's Opacity Marker to 50 - on layers' palette on the right side

Slide it further towards 100, and let it stay where the pic looks best.

This image shows the high pass layer highlighted and the first layer hidden.

Click to show the original layer with the high pass layer, and your picture is perfect.

Here's the Finished Image Again

Very small changes can mean significant enhancements.

High Pass Layer Tutorials

Same Camera I Use Here Pentax K10d

Pentax K10D 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera with Shake Reduction (Body Only)
Pentax K10D 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera with Shake Reduction (Body Only)

I bought this camera for its anti-shake feature and ease in fitting it with lenses. I stay because of the depth of color.


Canon EOS Rebel T3 Digital SLR

Canon EOS Rebel T3 Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens (discontinued by manufacturer)
Canon EOS Rebel T3 Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens (discontinued by manufacturer)

If this is the camera of choice for my son, then I'd recommend it for you too.


Earn Money From Backlinks With Best Reviewer

I Appreciate Your Comments - add High Pass tips

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    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 

      6 years ago

      Honored to be your 20th Squid Like ;-)

    • Rangoon House profile image


      6 years ago from Australia

      Oh wow - I love the new pic! You are very clever and very generous in sharing your tips.

    • ismeedee profile image


      6 years ago

      Very impressive!

    • vinodkpillai lm profile image

      vinodkpillai lm 

      6 years ago

      I have used high pass for sharpening. But you have presented it very well and made this lens a useful learning resource. Thanks

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great tutorial. Your way of presenting it made it entertaining as well as easy to understand. Thanks for sharing.

    • CoeGurl profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      This is a very nifty tip. I just tried it with a photo I had taken of a lake, and the change really pops the rocks just under the water's surface. Thanks!

    • gottaloveit2 profile image


      6 years ago

      What a great tutorial! Nice job presenting the exact steps needed to transform a photo.


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