The Orton Effect Featured

The “Orton” Effect

Many of us buy expensive lenses and go to extremes to achieve pin-sharp images of landscapes. Others experiment with various effects, one of them being the “Orton” effect, and produce interesting results. However, is this effect worth experimenting with? David Hay has the story.

Many years ago, I saw an image in an American photographic magazine that stopped me in my tracks; it had a magical “glowing” effect that I had never seen before. A bit of detective work revealed that it was a technique pioneered by the photographer Michael Orton, which involved sandwiching two pieces of slide film, one in focus and the other out of focus.

This was long before Photoshop was even a gleam in the eye of its developers. Back then, any special effects had to be done with filters in front of the lens or variations in processing the film, such as cross-processing.

When the “Orton” effect was done properly, the resulting image showed a well-defined subject surrounded by a soft glow from the de-focused layer. The treatment worked best on subjects that were against a dark background, which showed up the diffuse glowing details to maximum effect. The action of pulling a lens out of focus causes the subject to get bigger as it gets softer; thus the glowing area extends beyond the edge of the sharp subject.

To get the best effect, it was necessary to…

The Orton Effect

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