How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?

How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?

In this tutorial, we’ll talk about how to make things glow in photoshop using the Orton Effect? Orton effect is especially relevant in landscape and architecture photography, but it can also be used in other genres. How to quickly increase the contrast and saturation of a photo and at the same time add a glow? All these are possible by using the Orton effect in Photoshop.

This artistic technique was developed back in the days of film photography by Michael Orton. On film, the effect was created by superimposing the same image, but out of focus with the correct exposure, on a sharp overexposed frame. With the advent of digital processing, implementation has been dramatically simplified.

How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?
How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?

The peculiarity of the Orton effect is that it slightly neutralizes small textures in the photo (which sometimes distract from the main thing: lighting, colors, shapes) and adds a slight haze to the image, which is an almost invariable companion of sunrise and sunset hours, but in itself in the photo not passed.

Concept D9 mobile workstation helps me in preparing this lesson. This computer can hardly be called a laptop: the most potent hardware is installed in a portable case – processors of the Core i9 family and NVIDIA GeForce RTX video cards. It is configured with a Core i9 9980HK, 32GB DDR4, and GeForce RTX 2080. All this power is required to work with modern graphics: photos, videos, design projects, and 3D modeling.

The requirements for the quality and detail of graphics are very high, so even with routine processing, good performance is required; otherwise, you will have to wait while the computer “thinks constantly.” The fast system operation is a plus for work efficiency and comfort.

Robust hinges support the 17.3-inch display. These dimensions are great for working with graphics: this is no longer a travel laptop where you can only view photos; it is convenient to process pictures here thanks to an IPS matrix with a wide color gamut and 4K resolution. And the color accuracy of the screen “out of the box” is guaranteed by the Pantone certificate. Plus, the display is touch-sensitive and supports working with a pen, so it can be used for drawing, creating illustrations, and retouching (often you need to make complex translucent masks, which is not so easy with a mouse or touchpad).

You may also like to read: How to Remove Acne in Photoshop within 5 Minutes?

How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?

I have a frame with basic adjustments and settings. They are usually brought in when RAW is “developed” in Adobe Lightroom Classic, Camera Raw, or Capture One Pro. I make adjustments for exposure, contrast, and color and finish adjustments in Adobe Photoshop. The Orton effect is always applied in the last stages to make it look harmonious.

How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?
An Image is Open in Adobe Photoshop

Create a copy of the layer (CTRL + J) and convert it to a bright object. It is necessary to adjust then the parameters that we will apply to the layer. Conversion may take some time, especially if the photo is of high resolution. I haven’t waited long; the Concept D9’s performance eliminates long pauses.

How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?
How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?

Now we will apply a solid blur to this layer. Usually, a Gaussian blur is used: Filter → Blur → Gaussian Blur. Which blur radius should you choose? It all depends on the resolution of the picture.

How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?
How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?

Here you can be guided by the eye: it is enough to blur all the details beyond recognition. The radius can be roughly calculated using the following formula: large side of the image in pixels / 100. If our frame has a resolution of 6000 pixels on the larger side, the Gaussian blur radius can be set at 60 points.

How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?
How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?

Set the opacity of the blurred layer to 0, Blending Mode – Overlay. Next, carefully start increasing the opacity of the layer. Try setting it to 15–20%. You will see that the picture has acquired contrast, saturation and began to “glow.”

How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?
The red frame shows the selection of the layer blending modes, the green one – the opacity.

You can also try using the Soft Light blend mode. The result will be similar; you can choose by eye which of the blending modes works best for a particular scene. The opacity value needs to be adjusted every time, and the main thing here is to dwell on the slightly “insufficient” strength of the effect because the eyes get used to the picture on the monitor. Sometimes the creative process takes over in such a way that it turns out to be overkill.

How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?
Overkill with a glow effect: for a blurred layer in the Overlay blending mode, the opacity is set too high.

After such exposure, the picture often becomes darkish. To adjust the contrast and brightness, create an adjustment layer “Levels” (Levels) or “Curves” (Curves). Let’s make the adjustment layer affect only the blurred layer. I created a curve that protects the dark areas (so that there are no black spots instead) and darkens the mid-tones and highlights. Curve or level settings need to be adjusted for each shot. And in some cases, they are not even required.

To make the adjustment layer affect only the blurred layer, click on the button highlighted in the red frame. The corresponding symbol will appear next to the layer name (highlighted with a green arrow).
To make the adjustment layer affect only the blurred layer, click on the button highlighted in the red frame. 
The corresponding symbol will appear next to the layer name (highlighted with a green arrow).

Using the method of overlaying a blurred layer will turn out to create a soft effect. It can be helpful in portraits and for enhancing aerial perspective (reducing the contrast and clarity of objects in the frame as they move away from the viewer). To create a soft effect, leave the blurred layer in the Normal blending mode, reducing its opacity to 15–20%.

How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?
How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?

A soft effect layer can be applied either separately from the Orton effect or in addition to it. Now let’s create a layer mask and remove the soft effect from the foreground objects and those areas where perfect clarity is essential. Let’s leave it in the background and minor details. The mask can be used directly for the Orton effect, reducing its impact on the foreground and objects that require flawless clarity.

How to Make Things Glow in Photoshop Using Orton Effect?
With the help of a mask, the soft effect is removed from the foreground.

What to do when it seems that such processing has “eaten” some of the details? You can create a mask for the blurred layer and use a giant eraser to erase areas where the glow effect is undesirable or excessive. It is very convenient to create complex translucent masks with a touch screen and a stylus, as on our Concept D9.

But you can go the other way. Create a copy of the original (not blurred) layer and drag it to the very top. Now let’s go to the menu Filter → Other → High Pass. The High Pass filter radius is selected manually, depends on the frame resolution, and ranges from 1-4 points. Set this layer to Soft Light Blending Mode, sharpening the outlines. The most important thing here is not to overdo it. If it looks like the image has become too sharp, you can lower the layer’s opacity.

The Orton Effect can make fine details less visible.
The Orton Effect can make fine details less visible.

That’s it: by overlaying a blurred layer in the Overlay blending mode, we immediately get an increase, in contrast, an increase in aerial perspective and a glow effect! Simple and very easy! But the process can be automated by writing these simple actions in Action. So you can apply all these actions in one click to any frame. The only thing is that a different degree of Gaussian blur is required for images of various sizes. But you can correct everything after using the Action. I have created such Action and sharing it with my readers; you can download it here.

Acer Concept D9
Acer Concept D9

This photo processing on the powerful Concept D9 workstation is fast and efficient. Resource-intensive processes (converting a high-resolution photo into a bright object or applying a blur) did not take even a couple of seconds. And because of the touch screen, ability to use a pen and tilt at any angle, masks are created conveniently.