The Trick to Adding That Glowing, Dreamy Orton Effect to Your Photos

The Trick to Adding That Glowing, Dreamy Orton Effect to Your Photos

By |2019-01-12T18:48:00+00:00Dec 13th, 2018|

The funny thing about adding the popular Orton effect to your photos is that it’s so easy to overdo. Odds are, if you’ve ever seen a landscape photo with that ethereal, dreamy quality to it—almost as if it has the tiniest bit of soft focus—it has had some form of the Orton effect applied to it. Some photographers call it a Soft Focus Look or Dreamy Feel, but I prefer giving credit where it’s due. The look itself is credited to photographer Michael Orton, but he first developed it (pun intended) decades ago when he was shooting film.

The technique itself was modernized with digital post-processing and it truly can elevate a photo with its dreamy effect. The key is to use moderation. Moderation in how often you use it, how much of its strength you apply, and moderation in where within the photo you keep it and where you remove it. It’s like salt. You start with a pinch, taste, and move on from there. You can always add more but it’s far more troubling once you add too much. That’s why I created this video outlining my Orton effect process. There are thousands of ways to apply this technique and I don’t think one is better than another. My process is likely a fusion of several, which I then refined to suit my taste. The key is to experiment and figure out what works best for you. Give the video a look and let me know what you think.

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  1. Bruce K Blaylock December 13, 2018 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Brian, I need to attend OEA, Orton Effect Anonymous. I know I use the effect, and similar ones, far too much, but I can’t help myself. I go through my workflow, get to the end, and think, I wonder what it would look like with a Dark Glow? Next thing I know, my mouse has crept over to the menu and away we go down the dreamy path. I have learned how to be judicious with it, as you suggested, masking out main subjects and detail areas, but man is it hard to avoid creating an effect that I almost think of as my part of my style. Do you know of a 12 step program? Bruce

  2. Larry Lato December 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Thanks Brian, I took notes and this is going on my next waterfall photo. Still working post from my October trip to the Michigan UP!

  3. Alain December 13, 2018 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    Thanks for that trick ! I use it now with success ;-))

  4. allan wood December 13, 2018 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Yes, spot on! I use it spareingly, but this tutorial changed a bit of my workflow.

  5. Peter Langer December 14, 2018 at 3:00 am - Reply

    Is the final result of this workflow superior to just using an Orton filter in either Luminar or On1? Your process results look wonderful, but also time consuming. Thanks.

  6. Melony December 14, 2018 at 6:08 am - Reply

    My first time watching, wow! Loved it

  7. Rick Wise December 15, 2018 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks Brian! Can you do a quick video on how you do Orton in ON1 2019

  8. Robert Winer December 20, 2018 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Excellent video and your recommendations will be put to good use. However, I do have a suggestion to help those of us who are older and often have difficulty following a small and fast moving pointer. A colored pointer, e.g. red, with a small shadow, would work for me. I’m sure that for most of your viewers this is not an issue, but I bring it up for your consideration. Keep up the good work.

  9. bill wiley December 20, 2018 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    Brian, this was very interesting, however, I think a step by step PDF file would help restore the memory of how to apply the effect.

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