Thursday, October 20, 2011

Making old photos look good, how to do the Orton effect

This image was processed after the film sat in the fridge for 15 years
Many of us have old pictures that bring back nice memories but the end result was not that great. It could be that the original equipment was not to par or that age has taken its toll on the image.

One cool way to bring back some zest to old photos and making them look good is the Orton effect. This is a technique that involved mixing a very sharp and bright copy with another one that is very blurry and dark of the same image. It was done in the dark room but now reproducing the effect with image editing software is a breeze.

This works with both Photoshop and GIMP.


Step one: Open the image, sharpen it a bit and then go to layers and duplicate the background layer.


Step two: Change the top layer's mode from "normal" to "screen".


Step three: Merge down both layers.


Step four: Go to layers and duplicate the background layer again.


Step five: Go to filters and open the Gaussian Blur tool. This is the tricky part. You need to blur the layer so you can barely see the details in the image. You might want to experiment with that step a few times to get the end result to your taste.


Step six: Change the top layer's mode to "multiply". You can also adjust the intensity of the effect by reducing the opacity of this layer.


Step seven: Flatten Image and you are done.

You can also play with the saturation and sharpen the original image before you start. Save your work as a separate file and compare with the original, you'll be amazed. There are other ways to make old pictures look good, this is a very simple one. The Orton Effect technique can also be used with good pictures, bland ones and even black and white images.

For more examples of what can be done you can check my photoblog here (The last 2 got that treatment) and here.

Thanks for watching.

Gerry :)