Intentional Abstract Impressions Technique

Intentional Abstract Impressions

In this post my hope is to provided a more detailed explanation of this new and rather crazy technique I have stumble upon recently. Apparently I am not alone in this creative new approach to abstract photos, as @Alfredo_Mora told me about another photographer that Brooks Jensen (from Lenswork) discussed in a podcast recently ( . Small world for sure.

From my limited experience, simple images with lots textures and colors seem to work best. I have also found that doing some initial basic editing (such as; cloning, healing and cropping) produces a cleaner final image. From there it is a lot of “what if I try this” or “what if. . .”

Below are some examples of images I have been working with lately.

These two raw images are the bases for my experimental comparisons:

The first thing I did with the two files was import them into Helicon and created a stack using the standard default setting of sorting automatically with Method C. Below is the result from that stack.

Next I opened the stacked image into PS and play with many variations including inverting, and layer blend modes which produced many more fun variations. Like this one:

Or this version which I simply duplicated the original layer, put it on top and added a threshold layer on top of that.

Then I created a composite of the same two raw files in PS with very different results and feel.

After having established the layer order, I inverted the image on the left side (top layer) and applied a saturation blend mode at 100%. Final step was to add a color grading layer masks to the right side of the image, using a divide blending mode, to bring out the green/blue hints from the inverted layer. Which resulted in this version:

Screen shot of the layer palette:

Then just for fun, one more version:

Which I simply applied a hard mix blending mode to the inverted layer at 100%

One more example using a totally different subject. This time a milkweed, along with two images of a palm leaf. The first version, I placed the palm leaf layers on each side of the milkweed. Again I began playing with the layer modes. The top leaf has a soft light at 100%. The created an inverted adjustment layer above the milkweed and the second leaf. The used a divide blending mode on the milkweed layer to produce this version:

and then using a threshold blending mode created this black and white version:

The bottom line, for me, is there are endless possibilities with this technique and many hours can be spent just playing around and asking; “what if. . …” Not such a bad way to spend a rainy afternoon.


Linda, thank you so much for a wonderful recap of your process, your thoughts, and your techniques. This is such an intriguing way of using Helicon to create something unique. While I don’t have your artistic eye, I have to try this.

And I see that it’s not just the jumble of any two images, there has to be some vision of the end product before trying it. Really impressive.

Thanks again for sharing this. Wonderful!

Thank you, David for your kind words. And yes, I would agree that the majority of the work for the creation comes from choosing the images to combine. Many times even when I’ve selected photos I love and think will blend well together, they don’t. So it’s back to square one. However this is part of the challenge, excitement and serendipity that I’ve enjoyed so much about discovering this technique. Good to hear you’re enjoying it also. Thanks again.

This is awesome Linda! Thank you for sharing this very intriguing technique! I haven’t spent much time trying to create abstracts other than single shot images but I plan to give this a try. I’m also not the most artistic guy so I expect it to take a few thousand ( :laughing:) tries before something pleasant shows up.

Thanks again!

1 Like

Thanks, @Steve_Kennedy, I appreciate your comments. The great thing about this abstract category is there is plenty of room for artistic interpretation. Along with lots of challenges and great fun. Enjoy.

Linda, thank you for sharing your technique on Intentional Abstract Impressions (IAI)! I really enjoyed learning about this creative approach using Helicon focus. I think this is going to inspire folks to experiment and explore to create some wonderful abstract images.

1 Like

Thanks so much, @Alfredo_Mora for your help and support.


I must echo the thanks for providing the detailed process you’re engaged in when producing these abstracts! Fascinating to say the least and something I’ll have to put on my list of - things to check out!

Not sure which is your final version after combining the two main red pedal’d images. But no matter, they’re all fabulous.

Was confused at the end and the last two images - clearly new subject matter? oh wait, yes, you’re providing a different example. Love the combo on this one with the milkweed and palm leaves. Love the purples and lavendar. Very cool!

Thanks again for sharing your work and methods!


Thanks so much, Lon, for all of your encouraging words. Totally appreciate your input.