Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Orton-izing your images

Something a little different for today's post. A while back in one of the newsgroups I participate in, we had fun Orton-izing images. Orton-izing images or applying what is called the Orton Effect, is a technique originally created by Canadian photographer Michael Orton.

Mr. Orton has published a book called "Photographing Creative Landscapes". A very interesting preview of the book including some of his photos and explanation of how he created them can be found on Google Book search. Click here to see the preview.

A small portfolio gallery of his images can be seen here.

There are a number of sites found on the web that talk about the Orton Effect and how to reproduce it on your own images. One of the better ones in my opinion can be seen here.

The hard part in creating an Orton-ized image is not in the creation process but rather in finding a image where the process works.

In most photo editing software that supports layers, you can Orton-ize your image as follows.
  1. duplicate original layer.
  2. set blend mode of duplicate to 'Screen'.
  3. merge down.
  4. duplicate layer, setting blend mode to 'Multiply'.
  5. apply Gaussian blur to duplicate layer using a value between 15 to 50. I tend to use 35 for my images.
  6. Create an HSL adjustment layer. Here you can increase or decrease the saturation until you achieve the desired effect. Again from personal experience I find I like increased saturation (15-30 values). The main exception to this is when there is a great deal of Red in the image. This is when I will decrease the saturation a bit.
There are times when the resultant image looks dark. The quick and simple fix is to duplicate the lower layer (the one that was a result of merging the two layers with Screen blend mode) and set its blend mode to 'Screen'. A second and more precise method would be to add a Curves layer where you can tweak just the darks and shadows.

The following are some of the images I have created following the above steps.

Orton Effect

Orton Effect

Orton Effect

Orton Effect

Orton Effect

Hope you found today's topic interesting and enjoyable.

Remember that clicking on any image on this page will open a larger version. Use your browser's "back" button to return to the Blog.

Other photos that I've applied this process to can be seen in my Digtal Effects - Orton-ized gallery.

Please feel free to leave comments here on the blog or in any of the photo galleries.

Thanks for looking. And stop by again.


  1. The duck looks really cool but I LOVE the forest/swamp photo right under it! That one is gorgeous!!

  2. Wow, those look amazing! Great work!