Island in the Net

A personal blog by Khürt Williams, full of inchoate writing on photography, coffee, and geekery.

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The Orton Effect

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 NIKON D5100 20170305 9296 7 8 Photomatix The Orton Effect

Original Image

  • Aperture : ƒ/11
  • Camera : NIKON D5100
  • Copyright : © 2017 Khürt L. Williams
  • Focal length : 16mm
  • ISO : 100
  • Location : 40° 26.9003′ 0″ N 74° 41.3978′ 0″ W
  • Shutter speed : 1/125s

Screen Shot 2017 04 11 at 7.30.57 AM The Orton Effect

Open your image in Photoshop and duplicate the layer:

Screen Shot 2017 04 11 at 7.33.55 AM The Orton Effect

Select the top layer, and from the Photoshop menu, click Image and then Apply Image.

Screen Shot 2017 04 11 at 7.34.10 AM The Orton Effect

For the “Apply Image” blending mode, click “Screen” and then hit enter.

Screen Shot 2017 04 11 at 7.34.41 AM The Orton Effect

Duplicate this new layer, then click the “Multiply” blending mode. In the Photoshop menu, click Filter, then Blur, then Gaussian Blur.

Screen Shot 2017 04 11 at 7.34.55 AM The Orton Effect

Adjust the blur radius to suit your taste.

Screen Shot 2017 04 11 at 7.38.19 AM The 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 NIKON D5100 20170305 9296 7 8 Photomatix Edit The Orton Effect

Exaggerated Orton effect.

  • Aperture : ƒ/11
  • Camera : NIKON D5100
  • Copyright : © 2017 Khürt L. Williams
  • Focal length : 16mm
  • ISO : 100
  • Location : 40° 26.9003′ 0″ N 74° 41.3978′ 0″ W
  • Shutter speed : 1/125s