The Orton Effect

The Orton effect actually became a step or process by Micheal Orton first, with slide film.  It consisted of two shots, the first being sharp but overexposed by two f-stops and the second being out of focus and over exposed by one f-stop.  The two shots were then sandwiched together to create a beautiful, impressionistic picture.


I took this photo in May of ’08 in a forest not to far from my house on a very scenic drive to the Big Town.  The blooming tree is a Dogwood and the afternoon light filtered through the trees just as I wanted them to.  I recently remembered the Orton effect and applied it to this picture, only using Photoshop.  I think that the Orton effect works wonders on trees, flowers, and nature scenes but in some cases can look marvelous in other settings.  You can play around with it to see how you like it…

In Photoshop (any kind):

  1. Open your image.
  2. Duplicate your layer by hitting CTRL-J.
  3. Name your duplcated layer “Sharp.”
  4. Duplicate your “Sharp” layer, now called “Sharp copy.”
  5. Change “Sharp copy’s” blending mode to Screen.
  6. With the “Sharp copy” layer selected, right click and choose Merge Down.
  7. Duplicate your “Sharp” layer once more (CTRL-J).
  8. Name your new layer, “Out of Focus.”
  9. With “Out of Focus” selected, go up to Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur.  Choose a blur amount that blurs the whole picture where shapes are still visible but no detail.  I did a 15.9.
  10. Change the blending mode of “Out of Focus” to Multiply.

Voila!  You now have the Orton effect applied to your photograph.  As always, you may want to play with the opacity of your layers and/or the contrast and sharpness of your Sharp layer.  I didn’t think I needed to tweak my Sharp layer but put on some added sharpness and it looked even better so play around with it and enjoy!


About mudranch

I live in the country, I love to take photos, I'm a shepherdess, I adore my husband and daughter, I walk in the will of Christ.

Posted on January 9, 2009, in Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photoshop, Tutorials. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I love playing with the Orten effect. You can get all sorts of cool, dreamy images.

  2. Me, too! It’s a favorite. I’d love to hear more of your favorite PS actions. I’d addicted to PS.

  3. I’m definitely going to have to give this a try. Love the effect!

  4. I love this effect! I have been searching for it but never knew the name, thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Thank you for this information. I use PSP X3 and the photo came out as you described. Wonderful Maine foliage. Thanks again. Ray

    • If I understand you correctly… This is actually “California foliage.” 😀 Glad you found the info useful and helpful!

  6. What a gorgeous effect

  1. Pingback: Orton’d Scenes « Mud Ranch’s Real Dirt

  2. Pingback: “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!…” « Mud Ranch’s Real Dirt

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