Mother Nature is the artist. I just collect the memories…

The Orton Effect

The Orton effect was first used by Michael Orton.  Using color slide film, he would take 2 shots of the same subject, one over-exposed and blurry, the other in focus.  He would then sandwich these two slides together and the effect would have a very surreal, almost dream-like quality to them.  I have heard it referred to as “painterly”, “artistic”, and “dreamy”.  Whatever you choose to call it…it’s pretty cool.

It can easily be applied digitally with today’s editing software…

Creating the above image was really quite simple.  I use Corel’s Paint SHop Pro Photo 12, so this “tutorial” may not be helpful to those of you that use Photoshop…

The first step is basic processing of the base image.  I make brightness/contrast, high pass sharpen, and clarify adjustments to get a solid base image to start with.  Than I copy this image, and paste it as a new layer.

I make the top layer invisible, so I can see the bottom layer, and increase the brightness a bit, than apply a Gaussian Blur.  I typically use a 15-25 pixel radius, but I have used higher.  Be warned…you CAN overdo it.

Once my bottom layer is nice and blurry, I switch to my top layer, and increase the sharpness using High Pass Sharpen once again.  Than I decrease the opacity of the top layer, until I can see the blurry layer underneath.  Than it’s a matter of taste, adjusting the opacity of the top layer to achieve the desired amount of blur and “halo” from the blurred bottom layer.

Once I have the desired amount of blur and sharpness, I flatten the image, and continue processing, as necessary.  For the top image, the processing ended at merging the layers.  For the above image, I boosted contrast a touch and clarify just a bit after merging to bring out some of that texture in the rocks.

And that’s really all there is to it.  Play around with it.  I have found that the images most suited to the Orton effect seem to be those with lots of leaves, trees, or water.  These tend to make a really neat dream-scene using this effect.

I hope you enjoyed this, and Thanks for reading!


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