Post Processing: The Orton Effect

May 21, 2010

The Orton effect is a interesting way to add some jazz to your photos during post processing.

Craig Ferguson, a Taiwan-based photographer, posted a tutorial on his site: (the) Orton Effect For Digital Darkrooms.  I tried this several months ago, and after reading Craig’s tutorial decided to give it another go. A brief description:

Orton imagery, also called an Orton slide sandwich, is a photography technique which blends two completely different photos of the same scene, resulting in a distinctive mix of high and low detail areas within the same photo.  It was originated by photographer Michael Orton. source: wikipedia

The Orton effect won’t work on all photos – it’s not something you can use often – but it can provide some great results when used on a compatible image.

It started with this image, rather lackluster. It was taken during a very misty day and I wasn’t able to capture that “magical” feeling of the lake, mist and surroundings.

Before the "Orton Effect"

Before the "Orton Effect"

I tried the simple steps in Adobe Photoshop after reading Craig Ferguson’s tutorial. After a bit of tweaking I end up with this:

Orton Effect Landscape

The image after applying the "Orton Effect."

I like the blur and focus of the image after the effect was applied. The post processing make the image closer to what I experienced while shooting it. Give this effect a try. It’s a nice tool to have in your digital toolbox.

There’s a lot you can do in post processing – some of it good, some of it terrible.  The digital darkroom is a wonderful place – but I’m sure many of us miss the darkroom we cut our teeth in.

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