We demonstrate experimental laser projection of a gray-level photographic image with 74% light efficiency using the generalized phase contrast (GPC) method. In contrast with a previously proposed technique [Alonzo et al., New J. Phys. 9, 132 (2007)], a new approach to image construction via GPC is introduced. An arbitrary phase shift filter eliminates the need for high-frequency modulation and conjugate phase encoding. This lowers device performance requirements and allows practical implementation with currently available dynamic spatial light modulators. (c) 2007 Optical Society of America.