February 2011 Theme: The Orton Effect / by Craig Roberts

I'm finally back on track for our monthly themes at the LCC, with this month's subject kicking up some creative juices: The Orton Effect.Coming from a very limited background shooting film, and absolutely none shooting slide film, I am a complete noob to this entire technique - I will try to describe this as best as I can, however there are some great resources one can find online if you want to delve into this further.

As I understand it, The Orton Effect was first developed and used by Michael Orton over on Vancouver Island BC back in the mid 1980's, as a method where one normal exposure of slide film was sandwiched together with a second, over-exposed and blurry exposure to create an ethereal dreamlike effect within the photograph.  Michael authored "Photographing Creative Landscapes", which contains many examples of this technique.

For the purpose of this month's subject, I'm incorporating a Photoshop technique for my image development; the treatment lends itself to subjects such as children, landscapes, flowers, etc - but I chose to work on an image I captured back in the summer of 2009 of False Creek in Vancouver, BC.  In a nutshell, it involves taking your photograph, duplicating the initial layer twice, selecting one and both brightening and add a Gaussian blur to it, and finally combining both layers using "multiply", the end result being an Orton image of sorts.

False Creek "Dreamscape", created using the Orton Effect
False Creek "Dreamscape", created using the Orton Effect

There are, as mentioned, a number of resources on the web; here are a couple: - André Gallant's "Dreamscapes" - Photography.ca Podcast Episode #67, Interview with Darwin Wiggett & Michael Orton - JPG Mag, "Softness & Mystery: The Orton Effect-Updated & Improved!!"

This is an incredibly creative technique that I feel could could be tremendously impactful to some of those landscape and flower images that otherwise would just be OK; please take some time to process a couple of your own images to see the effect for yourself!