How to Make Dreamy Landscape Photography With the Orton Effect

If you’ve been on Instagram lately and you follow some of the most popular landscape photographers on the social media platform, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of them post photos of surreal and dreamy landscapes. When you see these images, you may be thinking to yourself, “Why can’t my photos look like that?”

Well, they actually can.

Those photographers are using what is called the Orton Effect.

So, who is this Orton you speak of and what will the Orton Effect do to my photography?

The Orton Effect is named after Michael Orton. In the mid-1980’s Michael Orton developed a technique in film photography in which he would combine two slides of film to create one image (proof that post-processing has been around for longer than the digital age.) On one slide of film, Orton would take a sharp, properly exposed photo. On the other slide, he would adjust the frame out of focus and overexpose the photo. Then in the darkroom, the two slides were merged together to create a surreal, dreamy, and almost watercolor-like photo.

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All of this begs the questions:

  1. Can I achieve the Orton Effect now in my post-processing software?

  2. What will the Orton Effect do to my photo?

Yes, you can create an Orton Effect in the digital age (video on how to do that below.) What it will do to your photo is soften edges and also softly blend highlights and shadows together. You can also use post-processing to create more contrast and saturation within the Orton Effect itself.

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WHEN should you use it in your photography?

Like most post-processing techniques, the Orton Effect can be over-done. So, it’s important to remember and know the situations in which you should use it.

The best places to implement the Orton Effect are within softer edge areas of your photos and not the subject of your photo. The subject needs to be concise and sharp.

Remember when you spent a lot of money on that high megapixel camera so that you could have sharp subjects? Yes, so don’t reduce sharpness in post-processing.

Skies and edges are the best places to paint in the Orton Effect, especially when you have soft clouds and blending colors in your skies. So, how do you do all of this, you ask? Watch the video below and I’ll show you how to make dreamy landscape photography with the Orton Effect in both Luminar and Photoshop.

THE EDITING SOFTWARE I USE (LUMINAR 3) (USE CODE “DAVID” FOR $10 OFF)

THE GEAR I USE:
THE ONLY DRONE YOU'LL EVER NEED
MY DO-IT-ALL CAMERA
THE LENS I USE FOR ALL THE ZOOMS
MY FAVORITE LENS EVER
MY TRUSTY TRIPOD SIDEKICK
MY OVERNIGHT CAMERA BAG
THE DAY PACK I USE
THE MIC I USE FOR CRISPY AUDIO
MY COMPUTER (NOT A MAC)

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