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

The Nature Photographers Network declared October 4 as “Nature Appreciation Day” and requested its members go out and shoot photos, post them to a special gallery, and explain why nature and nature photography helps to ease the stress of everyday living and enrich their lives.

Fellow NPN member Scott Bean had taken Wayne Rhodus and I on a great tour of the Tuttle Creek Dam area on Sat. and I found some areas I wanted to revisit for sunrise the next morning.  So for a second day in a row, I arose while it was still dark and headed toward Manhattan.  The moon was huge and beautiful, and I kept hoping I could get a shot while it was still up.  I did make it to my destination before it went behind the clouds, but without a good big lens to magnify the moon, it appears as a tiny, white, undetailed ball in the sky in the upper right corner of the frame.  I really would like to learn how to shoot the moon successfully.

Tuttle Moonset copy

After the sun topped the horizon, I found a spot where I could frame the hilly prairie with the beautiful, vibrant sumac.  I can’t think of a year when the sumac has been so colorful, and the hillsides around Tuttle contained huge patches of the stuff.  The combination of green leaves, warm golden grasses and sizzling sumac were almost more than the senses could bear!

Prairie Fall copy

I then explored a dirt road we hadn’t been down the day before, and found a small waterfall near a low water crossing. It was on private land so had to be careful not to cross the fence and couldn’t get as close as I would have liked.  The stream was one of those beautiful rock-bottom Flint Hills creeks, running clean and clear over the rocks.

Otter Creek Cascade copy

Next I was off to explore Wildcat Park near Manhattan at Scott’s suggestions. What a pretty little place! Found lots of creeper vines (and poison ivy) so didn’t bushwhack.  I did make my way down the bank to the creek bed and shot a number of fall foliage images. 

Wildcat Creek 1 copy

Wildcat Creek 2 copy

My favorite shot of the day, however, was not a grand scenic.  It’s the image of submerged leaves in the creek, spotlighted by a shaft of light.

Leaves Down Under copy

I had only encountered one other person earlier, and I had the entire area to myself. I breathed deeply of the air, listening to the gurgling and bubbling creek moving along. I was at peace, as I always am while enjoying nature’s beauty. If I didn’t have the means to get out and enjoy these moments, I honestly think I would go insane.

This is what Nature Appreciation Day meant to me.

This must have been my lucky week. Not only did I win a blue ribbon at the fair photography contest, I’m very excited to announce that this fall photo will be published in the fall 2009 edition of Kansas! magazine. This is my first photo to be published in a magazine and I’m VERY excited! The magazine is published by the Travel and Tourism Development Division of the Kansas Dept. of Commerce, has a circulation of approximately 40,000 and is available on a limited basis in bookstores and shops, and can be found at local libraries.  The magazine’s web site is:

This image was taken one evening at Lake Shawnee in Topeka.  I used my 28-80 wide angle lens and got as close to the tree trunk as possible, shooting straight up into the canopy of the tree. It was exposed for .8 seconds @ F10, with some work in Lightroom and CS4 to bump up the contrast and saturation a bit. I decided after doing this that if I plan to shoot a lot of photos from this perspective, I better either get a right-angle viewfinder or upgrade my camera to one that has live view! What a crick in the neck I got!

Scarlet Lady

Scarlet Lady