Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Orton Effect, Part I

Yet another weapon I have added to my arsenal of "tools to make kind of boring shots more interesting" is called the Orton Effect, named after photographer Michael Orton. Apparently, it was originally done with film cameras, using two images exposed on slide film—one overexposed by two stops, and one overexposed by one shot, and out of focus.

Luckily, everything is easier with digital cameras. This is the first post I've done about the Orton Effect, and I'm not super experienced with it, so I'll hold off a step-by-step tutorial until I've found a good general recipe. Essentially, you duplicate your image into a new layer, and apply a Gaussian blur, eventually merging them back together. That's the rundown; obviously there are a lot of tweaks and stuff you can use to get each image "right."

click to enlarge, or see it on Flickr

I didn't want to overdo it in the above photo, so the effect isn't super strong. But hopefully, there's a pretty noticeable impressionistic vibe. My original photo was rather underexposed, and quite frankly, just not a very good photo. I had to do a lot of playing around in Photoshop to make it look any good at all. The Orton Effect improved it, but it's still not great. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you want a more accurate idea of what the Orton Effect looks like, Google it—this isn't a very good example.

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