Berryman 2

Original image

Ozark Orton

Ortonized image

Actually, Dr. Seuss’ Horton heard a Who, but I heard about the Orton technique quite some time ago and finally decided to give it a try.

The technique is named after Michael Orton, a professional photographer who published an article about it in Popular Photography years ago. The Orton technique allows the photographer to create an ethereal, dreamy vision which elicits much more of an emotional response than a regular photograph. I shot some fall foliage shots near Steelville, Missouri last weekend that I thought might be good candidates for the technique. I found some instructions which Darwin Wiggett published in his article, “Orton Imagery – A ‘How to’ Guide for Photographers” which can be found under instructional articles on the Nature Photographers Network.

The basic idea is this: take your shot, overexpose it, duplicate it, blur the duplicate then sandwich them together.

More specific instructions (using Photoshop):

1. Open the image and make a duplicate (Image>Duplicate) then close the original. You should NEVER make any changes to your original file. This applies to any photo processing you are doing.
2. Overexpose the image (Image>Apply Image) and change the blending mode to “screen” and opacity to 100%. The opacity of course can be changed and if the photo is especially light or dark to begin with, you may have to tweak the percentage.
3. Duplicate the overexposed image (Image>Duplicate).
4. Now tile the windows so both images are on the screen at the same time. Blur the second image (Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur). In the dialog box, change the pixel setting. The higher the setting, the blurrier it is. I used about 25-30 on the shots I tried, but it can be set anywhere from 15 to 50. You just have to experiment to see what works.
5. Select the “move” tool, hold down the “shift” key and use the mouse to drag the blurred image onto the sharp one. Make sure the image edges are aligned correctly.
6. In the layers palette box, change the blending mode from “normal” to “multiply.”
7. Flatten the layers by pressing “CTRL+E”.
VOILA! You have an Orton image.
It’s really a very easy process and results in an image that is dreamy and very painting-like. You can rest assured I’ll be experimenting with this a lot more from now on.

Berryman 1

Original image

Ozark Orton 2

Ortonized image