Soft Focus - The Orton Effect.


Graeme Harvey

I've discussed this elsewhere on the forum, but I thought that this section would be the best place to put it so that people wanting the tip know where to look.

This is an enhancement that can be done in any half-decent manipulation program that allows layering.

A couple of examples (The pictures on the left are natural, and the ones on the right have been "Ortonised"):



If you like the effect, here's how to do it...

1. Open up your original pic as the background layer.
2. Duplicate the layer and name it sharp 1
3. Set the blend mode to "Screen"
4. Duplicate layer sharp 1 and name it sharp 2
5. Set the blend mode to "Screen"
6. Duplicate layer sharp 2 and name it blur
7. Set the blend mode to "Normal"
8. Select the blur layer and apply a gaussian blur to it - around 20pt is a good place to start but you might want to tweak it later. Try to make sure that no hard edges are visible.
9. Now set the blend mode to "Multiply"​

You should end up with a soft-focused picture.

You can tweak the effect by altering the opacity of the blur layer, as well as by changing the size of the gaussian blur. It's worth playing with.

Apparently, it was originally devised to produce a soft-focus effect using two film-slides in the same mount. What was done was one sharp photograph would be taken but overexposed, and then another blurred picture would also be taken (from memory, I think that was overexposed as well.) Both slides were then put into the same mount and projected to produce a warm, soft-focus effect. It was mainly done with flowers:


There's also a picture of a baby that I used this effect on at on the following link:

If you like it, have a go... and happy tweaking!
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