Orton Effect Action

I’ve been impressed with some of the Orton Effect montages that I’ve seen over the years.  I have seen many methods on the web for producing the effect in Photoshop, but was happiest with the method that André Gallant taught me when I was attending his workshop.

I was later introduced to another Canadian photographer, Gordon Campey, by a fellow student at the Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant workshop.  Gordon introduced me to an NAPP  article that added a unique, but critical in my opinion, step to the creation of the Orton Effect.  That step was an increase in the size of the blurred layer of 1% – 2%.  It helps to give that larger “glow” in the overlay that so often occurs when creating this technique with slide film.  I have incorporated that transformation of the blurred layer into this action.

The Orton Effect allows you to take a relatively bland image like this:

orton-3 copy

Into something like this:


There are two separate actions in the Action Set to account for Smart Objects.  In the default action I used a Smart Object so that you can adjust the Gaussian Blur that is applied to blurred image after the action is complete.  To account for Photoshop prior to CS3, I included a version that does not use the Smart Object, but it requires you to set the Gaussian Blur appropriately when you run the action.

After you run the action, you may need to set the White Point on the Levels 1 copy layer as it has a tendency to be pretty dark.  That is the only adjustment that I made to the above image.

I have to give credit to Michael Orton for creating this technique.  Although I have not read it yet, I recently purchased his book “Photographing Creative Landscapes, Simple Tools for Artistic Images and Enhanced Creativity”.  I look forward to reading it.