How to Use the Orton Effect for Dreamy Landscape Photos

Over the years, I have come across several different ways to give your photo a dreamy look. When I first started my journey into photography I came across a lens filter with the sole purpose of creating the dreamy look, but I found that too much detail was lost so I never used it again. So what is a good way to add the dreamy look to your photos?

Honestly, this is the first time I am hearing about the Orton Effect which Mark Denney shows us how to create it entirely in post. This technique is used to create a dreamy, almost watercolor painting imitation look commonly used in landscape photography by blending multiple photos from the same scene. The first photo is sharply in focus with correct exposure, the second photo is overexposed and blurred out of focus, and the two are merged together. In some cases, a third photo is taken in focus but overexposed. Denney shows you how to achieve this using one photo with some alterations in Photoshop, but you can take separate shots with your camera and merged them later in Photoshop. Try out both methods to see how the results vary and which one you prefer. Some of the examples I came across online can show how this can be easily overdone, but I think Denney example shows it done well without losing detail. Have you used the Orton Effect before, how does your process differ?

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5 Comments

That technique lightly and carefully applied is also the best way to accurately reproduce the smooth and creamy look of a traditional C-print. The younger and inexperienced photographers will be wondering what the hell is he talking about. Think Polaroid, at least you hipsters. Polaroids also have that same smooth and creamy look, and even more so.

Elan Govan's picture

Straight forward in Ps. Thanks.

Jeff Morris's picture

This technique is as old as Vaseline. The exact technique Orton used is a bit different, but portrait photographers for decades used Vaseline smeared on their lenses to a similar effect.

I think there's more to this than a greasy blur.

I'm going to have to try this!