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Thread: Some Notes on Orton Effect

  1. #1
    David's Avatar
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    Some Notes on Orton Effect

    Hi All - A couple of recent posts by Susan reawakened my interest in the Orton Effect, the most well described of the class of effects whereby a blurred version of an image is blended with the original, normally via Multiply mode, to give a diffuse, ethereal or dreamy look to the image. The effect can be used on the whole image or, as in this case, used to "enhance" areas that may be difficult to select and treat by other means.

    The first shot below is the central image from a set of three at 0, and +/- 2 stops. This set has been processed with the HDR software package Picturenaut 3.0 and tone-mapped with a bilateral TMO to give, after a bit of tweaking, the second image.

    Some Notes on Orton Effect

    Some Notes on Orton Effect

    The tweaking involved using The GIMP to set the general tone of the image to about 128 via Levels and Curves, and then modest sharpening with The Gimp's wavelet sharpen tool. At this point the result is not too bad from a technical point of view. The third image shows the result of the full Orton treatment.

    Some Notes on Orton Effect

    To my mind and for my purposes, this is not what I want in the final image. It seems a bit over-the-top. The fourth shot shows the result of selecting, via saturation, areas associated with the reflections in the water. The selected regions have then been processed via the Orton technique to produce a diffuse, slightly dreamy, layer that is simply blended via the Normal mode with the original.

    Some Notes on Orton Effect


    As the immediate result now gave slightly too much emphasis to the reflections, I reduced the opacity of the "Orton Layer" to about 50% before final blending. In effect, the "Orton Layer" has acted as a positive mask on the original tone-mapped image.

    A full sequence of 6 images showing all the stages can be found at

    http://www.pbase.com/david_ws/gallery/orton1

    Comments and crits welcome as usual.

    Having posted and read this through, the two key images are 2 and 4 above. The differences are subtle, but they are there.

    Cheers

    David
    Last edited by David; 9th September 2009 at 03:22 PM. Reason: Developing a complex post with several images.

  2. #2

    Re: Some Notes on Orton Effect

    David

    I can see what the intent is here but I am afraid it looks like an unfinished HDR image to me. The water and reflections sort of work in the last image but the trees just look fuzzy to my untrained eye. Maybe it is the subject matter or just me....I seem to be developing an unhealthy dislike to anything that resembles sudo-HDR. A question of personal preference really so I guess some of the others will give you more helpful C&C

    Steve

  3. #3
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Some Notes on Orton Effect

    Hi David,

    I'm not far off Steve's view.

    However, I did a little research; the HDR shot (2) looked, to my eyes, to be devoid of a decent black, so I saved locally and opened in PSE6 so I could see a histogram, too my surprise, not only was there a black, but probably a little clipping (AND at white too).

    So I got up the levels dialog and found if I tweaked the grey slider to 0.75, it gave me a picture my eyes liked, but which still contained more shadow detail than #1.

    Not sure that proves anything really - beyond that everyone's personal prefs are different!

    So, in summary, I don't think this helps you much either, sorry.
    However, I was educated

  4. #4

    Re: Some Notes on Orton Effect

    Of your 4 images, the one I favor is the 2nd one. ... I LOVE how you selected what was to be of the effect - great idea! The full blown Orton was too much for this image, imo.

    IMO the Orton Effect does not work on all images. -How does one pinpoint exactly the right image for Orton? For me, it is instinct, for others, it may be through trial and error to see what works. For some, it may be having a technical understanding of what works.

    To me, what is the most important thing here, is having an appetite to learn, experiment, create. If it does not work... that is ok. You gave it a shot and I am sure, something wonderful came of that.

  5. #5
    David's Avatar
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    Re: Some Notes on Orton Effect

    Hi Guys - Thanks for the comments. A couple of points arise. First, the image I first created was a proper HDR tone-mapped image, not a pseudo-HDR. Second, I agree with Susan that the full Orton Effect on the image is not so good. The real intention of the post was to show that you can use the Orton effect selectively to enhance areas that might be difficult to otherwise treat.

    There are, however, inherent problems with the manner in which Orton-like images are generated and Dave's comments re clipping are spot on. If you follow the procedure noted in several tutorials, including the one to which Susan refers, the idea is to blend via Multiply a blurred layer with a sharp layer. However, if you do this the result is dark. Thus, tutorials recommend that you first duplicate both layers and use the Screen blend mode to "lighten" the sharp and blurred layers. Now, unfortunately, using the Multiply and Screen modes for blending do not simply darken and lighten, they do clip images (or perhaps "pseudo-clip" would be a better term!!!!). This arises because of the mathematics of the Multiply and Screen modes. For example, in the HDR-tone-mapped image above (no. 2) there are about 0.2% of the pixels in the very dark band of 0 to 8 luminance scale. After blending via Multiply using the standard Orton procedure there are about 4.3% very dark pixels. A similar effect effect is seen with Screen blend effectively clipping white pixels. Thus, information is lost from the image using the generally accepted method for the Orton Effect. Maybe this does not matter for the aesthetic result.

    However, the following image is a "full" Orton effect, but produced in a slightly different way.

    Some Notes on Orton Effect

    Here, I have taken the sharp layer, duplicated it and blurred it as per normal. Now I set the blend mode to Multiply on the blurred layer but do not actually merge it at this point. Instead, I have used the Curves tool on the sharp layer to increase the tone/luminance of the image and then transferred those settings to the blurred layer as well. If the Curves tool is used appropriately then you don't lose any pixels to clipping. Having done this, the blurred and sharp layers can now be merged. Some pixels are still lost to clipping, but, in this example, the image has only about 0.7% of its pixels in the 0 - 8 range, rather than about 4.3% from the normal Orton procedure.

    Anyway, it all goes to prove that there is endless fascination in mucking about with image software.

    Cheers

    David
    Last edited by David; 11th September 2009 at 12:24 PM. Reason: Checking image and content in a longish post.

  6. #6

    Re: Some Notes on Orton Effect

    David

    first created was a proper HDR tone-mapped image, not a pseudo-HDR
    I was not referring to the first image but the subsequent ones. The first, as HDR, is tastefully executed. With your last posting the left third of the image better demonstrates what you are trying to achieve. Again it think this down to subject matter. I do agree with Susan in that the fact you have found your way through all this technical manipulation is impressive. Unfortunately with PP I am so impatient that I only appreciate the end destination. The journey is just a blur

  7. #7

    Re: Some Notes on Orton Effect

    David - A certain Aha! moment occurred to me whilst reading your last entry. I am NOT a technical person at all - usually take things at face value and move on... The Aha! for me: my try at the effect - posted here on the forum - there was shadow clipping to be sure! I was scratching my head wondering what happend... thanks for taking the time to explain!!

    Your newest photo is GORGEOUS!!! You have done the effect proud!

  8. #8
    batman44's Avatar
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    Re: Some Notes on Orton Effect

    Probably a mindless question, but it's been bugging me since my fog picture was commented on... almost 2 days now - so here goes!

    How do you know when a picture will benefit from this effect????

  9. #9

    Re: Some Notes on Orton Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by batman44 View Post
    Probably a mindless question, but it's been bugging me since my fog picture was commented on... almost 2 days now - so here goes!

    How do you know when a picture will benefit from this effect????
    Kori - a few thoughts about your question.
    -trial and error
    -study other's works that have the Orton Effect
    -what 'feels' like it would look lovely as a more 'dreamy', 'ethereal' image.

    Those are a few tips that I enlist.

    Hope that helps!

  10. #10
    David's Avatar
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    Re: Some Notes on Orton Effect

    Susan & Kori - Thanks for the nice comments. The question about when or whether to use the Orton effect is basically the same as when or whether to use any other technique. I do not think that there are any hard and fast rules but as Susan says trial and error, looking at other examples, and trying it out are useful. I suppose one heuristic (a word I love to use - it just means rule of thumb) for the possible use of the Orton effect would be if the image, as observed and/or as shot, has already got some blurriness about it. Thus, misty shots or shots where there are elements of movement (motion blur), or shots where there is aerial perspective might lend themselves to the technique.

    Cheers

    David

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