Knowledge Base

Using the Orton Technique

One of our favourite effects is a digital version of Michael Orton’s method of creating images with a dreamy atmosphere. Put to great use by many film photographers, it lives on in the digital age and is easy to apply. To see some examples, check out our Orton Technique collection here.

NOTE This article assumes that the image has been fully processed to include correct colour, sharpness etc. This article is accurate as of Adobe Photoshop CC 2019.

  • Step 1 - Duplicate Layer

    photoshop duplicate layerOpen your image in Photoshop. Navigate to Layer > Duplicate Layer... and name it something appropriate such as 'Orton' and click OK.

  • Step 2 - Set Opacity

    photoshop layer opacityEnsure your new duplicate layer is selected in the 'Layers' pane then set the Opacity to 50%. This can be tweaked later however we find that for most applications 50% works best.

  • Step 3 - Gaussian Blur

    photoshop gaussian blurNavigate to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur... and use the slider at the bottom to adjust the strength. We find that a value around 15.0 works well although don't be afraid to experiment, once you're happy click OK.

    NOTE Ensure the Preview option is ticked to see the results immediately.

  • Step 4 - Tweak & Save

    Finally, if this is your first Orton Technique image then you may want to take the time to tweak the opacity slider to see the effect it has. If you wish to adjust the Gaussian Blur strength; you will first need to navigate to Edit > Undo to remove the effect, then re-apply it as per Step 3. Using the Gaussian Blur filter over the top will essentially further blur the previously blurred layer.