HOW TO CREATE AN ORTON EFFECT
For a long time I have heard about the Orton Effect, but did not really know what it was. This week I thought I would do a short blog on what it is and how to apply it in Photoshop. Michael Orton created the effect in 1980, and it involved using two photos of the same place, one in focus and one out-of-focus. The result is a dreamy surreal look. It is mainly used on landscapes, but there was a time that it was popular to use with portrait shots.
Two different images can be stacked as layers in Photoshop after processing in Camera Raw or Lightroom, or just one image and adding a duplicated layer can be used, which is what was done with all these images. On method uses the Image -> Apply Image command to accomplish this effect. The image of Memorial Gardens in Ormond Beach, Florida, used this effect on two different duplicated layers to get the dream-like quality in the image. Once the Apply Image is done, the result is supposed to be set to Screen blend mode. I decided it looked better with one layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 44% layer opacity and the other Screen blend mode at 31% layer opacity, so experiment with the blend modes. A layer mask was used on the top layer to remove the effect in the middle of the image where the focal point is. Jimmy McIntyre, one of my favorite landscape photographers, made at his Shutter Evolve website a very short video called Quick Photoshop Secrets 7: How To Create A Dreamy Orton Effect which shows the steps to apply it manually. In one of his blogs (How to Create the Orton Effect), the Orton Effect action can be downloaded. It also contains these two great tips: Try to be selective in how you apply the Orton Effect as it tends to soften important textures and fine details; and watch the color effect as the result will become strongly saturated, especially the greens. By adding a layer mask and using a black brush set to different opacities, paint away where the effect is too strong. Jimmy also has a free Easy Panel for CS5 and above that contains an Orton Effect button and does the same thing as the action. He has a great weekly newsletter. For this image a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added and the Reds, Yellows, and Neutrals were adjusted just a little. A Blue Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was placed on top and set to Luminosity blend mode at 25% layer opacity to tone down the yellows a little more. I really wanted a softer look in this image.
Here is another example of the Orton Effect using OnOne’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Effect 10 (was called Perfect Effects) plug-in used on an image taken at the Viera Wetlands. The Glow Filter called Orton Hears a Who preset with changes to the Warmth slider (92), Saturation (-4), Amount (88), and Halo (33). Also the Tone Enhancer Filter Midtones Lighter preset was applied on another layer (Tone 19, Contrast 48, Blacks -22, and Highlights -20, and then the Big Softy Vignette. (There is also an Orton Clean preset that was not tried.) On a New Layer above, my free SJ-Clouds 14 was added at 45% layer opacity into the sky. Obsidian Dawn’s Grouping 5 birds were also added to the scene (then highlight bird layer, go to Select -> Color Selection and select Shadows -> OK, add layer mask to add selection, then right click to apply layer mask). Now a Gradient Fill layer was clipped (ALT+Click between the layers) to add some softer tone to the birds. I believe OnOne did a good job of creating a nice Orton Effect and it was much easier to do.
This time this beautiful Palamedes Swallow Tail Butterfly from my front yard was brought into Photoshop Elements 10, which actually has an Orton Effect filter effect. So this is how it was done since it is not obvious where it is in Elements: Go to Edit -> Guided -> Create Orton Effect. There are three sliders – my setting were: Increase Blur to under the “n,” Increase Noise set to under the “c,” and Apply Brightness under the “i”. Apply Orton Effect and then Done. Go back to Edit -> Full. A Layer Mask was added to the blurred layer and the butterfly and near flowers were gently painted out with a black round soft brush set to 15% brush opacity. The layer was then set to 85% layer opacity. Next a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to increase the contrast a little bit. A light pink Solid Color Fill layer was added on top and set to Color Blend Mode at 20% layer opacity to offset the overwhelming green color. That was it. A real dreamy effect that is pretty nice on something other than a landscape.
This is definitely a rather nice effect, although I am not sure I would want it on every image. It is actually hard to really understand what it does until you run the action or follow the “Apply Image” steps. I am more into the sharper look, but it still is nice for a change and fun to try. Hope you enjoyed this and try it on some of your images. Until next time, keep smiling!…..Digital Lady Syd