Contrast is usually at its highest when a scene is backlit. In this image there wasn’t much that could be done to lighten the shadows. I exposed so that the highlights weren’t too badly burnt out and didn’t worry too much about the shadows. Contrast […]
Orton Effect – Photoshop
Photoshop gives us tools we can use to create effects which previously could only be obtained in the darkroom using images which were captured specially. One such process is the Orton effect named after photographer Michael Orton. This process results in a somewhat surreal image which has a slightly out-of-focus look while retaining lots of edge detail.
In the darkroom this effect is created using two images one of which is slightly out of focus and both of which are slightly overexposed. Sandwiching these together and taking a print yields a photograph similar to the one above.
Thanks to Photoshop we can create this effect from a single well exposed image and create the overexposed and soft focus looks digitally.
Here is how to create this Orton effect on an image from your collection:
Open the image, right-click the background layer in the layers palette and select Duplicate layer. With the duplicate layer selected choose Image > Apply Image, select the Screen blend mode and click Ok. This applies the image to itself in screen mode which is the same as creating an additional duplicate layer, setting this layer’s blend mode to Screen and then merging the two layers. The benefit to using Apply Image is that you do it all in one step.
Duplicate this layer and set its blend mode to Multiply. This has the effect of cancelling out the lightening effect from applying the Screen mode.
With this topmost layer still selected apply a blur to it using Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Select the Preview checkbox so you can see the result on the image. Adjust the blur Radius to your choice of value – I used 4.5 but choose the best for your image. Notice that, if you create a very large small or very large blur, the effect all but disappears.
If the image isn’t light enough, return to the middle layer and repeat Step 1 to apply the image to itself again in Screen mode.
Then, if desired, add some noise to the image to give it a grainy look. To do this, choose Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Disable the Monochrome checkbox, click Gaussian and adjust the amount till you get a slightly grainy feel to the image.
The result is a soft focus image which still has lovely detail in the edges and it is a process well suited to being used with portraits as well as landscapes and cityscapes.
Using Photoshop Elements?
The same effect can be achieved in Photoshop Elements but you will need to perform step 1 the long way. To do this, duplicate the Background layer twice, set the top layer’s Blend Mode to Screen then choose Layer > Merge Down to merge it to a single layer. There is no Apply Image command in Photoshop Elements.
After many years as a keen amateur photographer, I decided to start a small landscape photography business called Lakescenes which I ran alongside my main job as an IT Manager. As business increased, I found myself working long, but rewarding, hours just to keep up […]
Rob Sheppard is a naturalist, nature photographer and videographer who says his favorite location is the one he is in at any time. He is the author/photographer of over 40 books, as well as a well-known speaker and workshop leader, and a Fellow with the […]
Gary Hart has photographed California’s natural beauty for over 30 years. Gary’s photos and writing have appeared in many publications, most recently Outdoor Photographer and Sierra Heritage magazines. You’ll also find his images in greeting cards, postcards, calendars, and many galleries and private collections throughout the world.
Originally from Poland, based in London UK, Jaroslav has background in Fine Arts, degree in Architecture, and wide array of experience. Being an Architect taught him how to be resourceful and to solve complex problems with simple, yet innovative solutions. Constant passion for graphic & […]
Next time you’re in the countryside at night do yourself a favour: look up. If it’s clear and conditions are right you’ll see a seemingly infinite number of stars twinkling like diamonds on a sheet of black velvet. As a visual pleasure it’s hard to […]
Colour can be distracting. Stripped of colour an image is entirely about the subject (unless of course the entire point of the subject is its colour…). This is particularly true of portraiture. Black and white arguably conveys the inner soul of the subject more powerfully […]