Dirck Gulick House, House, Field

I recently learned about a landscape photography technique called the "Orton Effect". The Orton Effect is a post-processing technique has been around for about thirty years that has become a trend. The technique is used to add a subtle (and sometimes not too subtle) glow to photographs. The technique creates an image that is simultaneously sharp and out-of-focus. The resulting image can be difficult to analyze or describe.

The Orton Effect is the creation of abstract landscape photographer Michael Orton who used it extensively in his film photography. The effect can be quite easy to reproduce with a DSLR and Adobe Photoshop. Here’s how.

Dirck Gulick House, House, Field
Original Image
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screenshot, photoshop, Orton effect
Open your image in Photoshop and duplicate the layer:
screenshot, photoshop, Orton effect
Select the top layer, and from the Photoshop menu, click Image and then Apply Image.
screenshot, photoshop, Orton effect
For the “Apply Image” blending mode, click “Screen” and then hit enter.
screenshot, photoshop, Orton effect
Duplicate this new layer, then click the “Multiply” blending mode. In the Photoshop menu, click Filter, then Blur, then Gaussian Blur.
screenshot, photoshop, Orton effect
Adjust the blur radius to suit your taste.
screenshot, photoshop, Orton effect
Merge the two top layers (Command+e on macOS or Control+e in Windows) and create a mask to decrease or increase the Orton Effect in different portions of the image.

The Orton Effect darkens the shadows of a photo. You may want to adjust the exposure or shadow slider in Lightroom. The result of applying a heavy Orton effect to the original image.

Dirck Gulick House, House, Field
Exaggerated Orton effect.
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In early November I visited the Great Swamp Watershed National Wildlife Refuge in Morristown for the first time. The trip was arranged as an event with the Photografriends meetup group. Ten people had registered by the date, but only two of us showed up. Myself, and Howard Hoffman, an amateur photographer from Verona.

Howard and I hung out at the visitor centre for a few minutes discussing which part of the refuge might be interesting at this time of the year. One of the staff at the visitor centre warned us that due to a severe drought affecting the northern part of the state, that the water level in the swamp was very low. The Great Swamp Watershed creatures would be hard to find and that the birds were having a tough time finding fish and other food.

birds, bird, brush, bush, wind, Great Swamp Watershed
If you know what type of birds these are please respond in the comments.
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Getting up close to wild animals without spooking them is difficult and in some cases -- e.g. bears -- not recommended. I know that for nature and wildlife photography, the photographer needs a long range zoom that provides a broad focal range to capture subjects at a great distance. I don't own such a lens. For this field trip I rented a Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C A1. On my DX Nikon this lens is the equivalent of a 225-900mm lens on a full-frame (FX) body. This lens is heavy! As strange at is seems, Howard just happens to own this lens. I explained my inexperience, and he patiently offered a quick tutorial on using the lens.

The most popular places to see birds and mammals are the drives on Pleasant Plains Road and the wildlife observation blinds at the Wildlife Observation Center. For viewing reptiles and amphibians, the boardwalks at the Wildlife Observation Center is the best area. Given our limited time, Howard and I decided to try the drive along Pleasant Plains Road.

Our first stop we noticed someone spotting through binoculars, so we stopped hoping for something. It took a long time, but we spotted a bird hunting something in the brush far away along the tree line. I struggled to operate the lens while tracking the bird and pushing the shutter button.

Bird, Great Swamp, Nature Preserve, Tree, Winter[exif id="23509"]

We waited at this spot for a while before continuing on our quest, moving along a little further down the road. We had much better luck finding birds, but I still struggled using the lens. It's heavy; birds move quickly and with my inexperience I could not track and shoot as well as I had hoped. It was a very windy day, and most of the birds were flying into the wind. We were downwind so I did not capture many "facial" images.

We found a field where a flock of small birds were flying back and forth between a set of trees. Occasionally they would disappear into the brush. I can only assume they were feeding on some insects.

It was starting to get a bit cold, and around noon, Howard and I agreed to quit ( I had promised to see Dr Strange with the kids). We either had keepers or junk but either way, I think we both enjoyed sharing the experience. I think Bhavna and the kids might enjoy a visit to the Great Swamp Watershed in the spring. I hope to be back with the camera.

Great Swamp Watershed, birds, bird, wind, brush, bush[exif id="23505"]

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Our family have been members of the honey brook organic farm CSA for several years. I think it may be over a decade. When the kids were younger, we thought it was a good way to teach them where food really comes from. That it wasn't something that comes wrapped in a cellophane or a cardboard box. We wanted them to learn that farming was difficult hard work. They learned that by being out in the heat and humidity of summer picking berries and tomatoes. And they disliked being buzzed by bees and other insects.

I have photographed the farm for almost as long as we have been members. I have photographed everything including the fields, flowers, the kids picking in the fields, the farm stands, etc. At least so I thought.

I captured this image of the water pump this Sunday. I have seen this water pump many times before but I think this is the first time I have focused on capturing it in some form. There was water dripping from a hose attached to a pump in the back. I took three exposure bracketed images which I combined into and HDR image in Photomatix Pro. I then applied a preset which I created earlier this summer.

The priest is the following.

  • Contrast to 100
  • Highlights to 100
  • Shadows to 100
  • Whites to -39
  • Blacks to 24
  • and Vibrance to 33

I just like what it does to images. I created the preset while people king around in Adobe Lightroom. It really pushes the colours. What do you think?