Creating a Dreamy Orton Glow in Lightroom

The Orton glow effect gives landscape photos a soft, ethereal quality that draws viewers in. This helpful video tutorial will show you how to create it in Lightroom.

Coming to you from Christian Möhrle of The Phlog Photography, this detailed video tutorial walks you through the steps to create the Orton glow effect in Lightroom. Möhrle starts by emphasizing the importance of working with an HDR file for high-contrast scenes. Combining multiple exposures helps retain details in both highlights and shadows. After merging the HDR images, the next step is to crop and straighten the photo to ensure a balanced composition.

Möhrle explains that achieving the effect relies heavily on manipulating contrast and brightness. He begins by increasing the overall exposure to brighten the image, then reduces the highlights to recover details in the sky. By raising the shadows and blacks, he softens the contrast, giving the image a gentle, glowing appearance. Adding a touch of warmth to the white balance enhances the feel, while boosting the vibrance increases the saturation of colors, making them pop.

To further enhance the glow, Möhrle uses Lightroom’s texture, clarity, and dehaze sliders. Increasing the texture makes details like grass blades and leaves sharper, while reducing the clarity adds softness, contributing to the dreamy effect. Using negative dehaze adds a hazy, diffused look to the light, enhancing the ethereal quality. Möhrle advises applying these adjustments subtly to avoid an over-processed appearance.

Möhrle also demonstrates the use of targeted masks to refine the effect. Using a radial gradient, he applies additional glow to specific areas, such as where the light source is strongest. This targeted approach ensures that the glow looks natural and enhances the photo’s overall composition. He layers multiple radial gradients with varying sizes and intensities to create depth and a more realistic light effect.

Additionally, Möhrle addresses the importance of balancing the image by adding glow to both sides. He uses another radial gradient to introduce a subtle glow from the left side, balancing the light and enhancing the scene's harmony. By carefully adjusting the exposure, blacks, and dehaze within these masks, he achieves a cohesive and visually appealing glow effect.

For final touches, Möhrle suggests using a color range mask to enhance specific colors, like the greens in the trees, and applying a slight split toning to add warmth to the highlights. These adjustments further refine the photo, enhancing its overall aesthetic. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Möhrle.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

Log in or register to post comments