Phytochromes and related photoreceptors distinguish themselves for their long-wavelength absorption and large spectral shift between parental state and photoproduct. Both features are not well understood, partly due to lack of high-resolution structural data and insufficient support from quantum-chemical calculations. The red–green switching cyanobacteriochrome Slr1393g3 shows an absorption shift larger than 110 nm. Both parental state and photoproduct could be crystallized with high resolution, together with a “hybrid” form carrying the chromophore in parental state geometry, whereas the protein remained in the photoproduct conformation. The crystal structures reveal how chromophore and protein mutually regulate their conformational changes, yielding the observed spectral shift. Quantum-chemical calculations, based on these structures, provide a deeper understanding of the spectral tuning mechanisms.The three-dimensional (3D) crystal structures of the GAF3 domain of cyanobacteriochrome Slr1393 (Synechocystis PCC6803) carrying a phycocyanobilin chromophore could be solved in both 15-Z dark-adapted state, Pr, λmax = 649 nm, and 15-E photoproduct, Pg, λmax = 536 nm (resolution, 1.6 and 1.86 Å, respectively). The structural data allowed identifying the large spectral shift of the Pr-to-Pg conversion as resulting from an out-of-plane rotation of the chromophore’s peripheral rings and an outward movement of a short helix formed from a formerly unstructured loop. In addition, a third structure (2.1-Å resolution) starting from the photoproduct crystals allowed identification of elements that regulate the absorption maxima. In this peculiar form, generated during X-ray exposition, protein and chromophore conformation still resemble the photoproduct state, except for the D-ring already in 15-Z configuration and tilted out of plane akin the dark state. Due to its formation from the photoproduct, it might be considered an early conformational change initiating the parental state-recovering photocycle. The high quality and the distinct features of the three forms allowed for applying quantum-chemical calculations in the framework of multiscale modeling to rationalize the absorption maxima changes. A systematic analysis of the PCB chromophore in the presence and absence of the protein environment showed that the direct electrostatic effect is negligible on the spectral tuning. However, the protein forces the outer pyrrole rings of the chromophore to deviate from coplanarity, which is identified as the dominating factor for the color regulation.