A Miracle! The Virgin Mary of the Forest!

Our Virgin Mary of the Forest

I think all of us create our own miracles.
– Michael Landon

The Virgin Mary walks the forest – at least that’s what your eyes are telling you as you look at the above photograph.
But I guarantee you: this is no miracle, unless you believe that Photoshopping is a miracle.
This photo is 100% fake.
I know – because I’m the one who faked it.
Lately, I have been seeing myriad Facebook photos on my timeline depicting miracles, usually a ghostly Jesus or the Virgin Mary floating in the sky or appearing as a misty figure in various places. Usually, these gems are accompanied by pleas to share the miracle so that good things can happen to those who share.
In the old days, it took a lot of skill to create deceptive photographs, but with the advent of Adobe and other art tools on the computer, just about anyone can easily fake a credible “miracle” photo, which I have done here.
It makes me wonder how people can be so gullible as to believe everything they read and see on the internet, but believe they do, so the debunkers have their work cut out.
So as a public service, I’m going to share my simple “recipe” for creating “miracle” photographs, which really just involves layering two or more photographs and “ghosting” the top layer, an option on the various Photoshop platforms. So here goes...
First, you must find two photos that are approximately the same proportions (they don’t have to be the same size; you can use your cursor to expand the overlay photo’s dimensions, but if they are proportioned differently, you’ll end up with a too fat or too skinny Virgin or Jesus – not good.)
Photos I used for “The Virgin Mary of the Forest”:

Top: Base Photo
Bottom: Overlay Photo

For the base photo, select a bucolic scene: sky with lots of blue, ocean, or forest. If you want your Mary or Jesus to appear in an incongruent place, such as a bar, mean streets, or strip joint, you can do that too, depending on your message. You are limited only by your imagination.
For the overlay photo, select a head shot or a full figure; half figures tend not to be convincing. Select something with a lot of space around it because you will need to crop the end product a bit.
Brighten up (saturate) the base photo a bit because ghosting will drain some of the color from the underlay.
Remove the color from the overlay photo and lighten it a bit (the black and white is what causes the misty ghostly effect).

Adding the black and white and ghosted overlay photo
Move the overlay photo to the base photo, covering it completely (use your cursor to expand the overlay photo). (Note: You now have a .psd file, which you will not be able to post online, but worry not).
In Adobe, click on the “Ghosted” tab in “Layer Styles.”
Now your overlay photo is ghosted; lighten or darken the overlay as needed.
Save as a .psd file (this way, you can return and tinker, if need be).
Next, save as a .jpeg (or jpg) file; this prepares the photo for posting on the web.
Close your .psd file.
Open the .jpeg file. You can edit this as needed, but keep in mind that this is a flattened photo, so you will be editing everything in the photo, not just the overlay.
When you are happy with the finished product, post it on Facebook or your blog as the...

Ultimate Miracle Photo
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