I have heard of a photographic effect known as the 'Orton Effect'.
Can anyone tell me what the effect is, what its history is and how I would create it in both film and on my digital SLR?
The Orton Effect is an image-processing technique resulting in a high-contrast look with a slightly "glowing" appearance. It started as an analogue technique made from two slide exposures of the same scene - one sharp and one soft - but nowadays it's more commonly done digitally. This photo on Flickr is an example of the result:
A basic recipe for doing this in Photoshop (or similar image-editing software) is as follows:
According to Michael Orton, the originator of the method, he used this to imitate watercolor paintings when using slide film. It involves overlaying of a sharp, overexposed image with an out-of-focus version of the same image.
This can be done in Photoshop or similar by mixing image and a blurred version of it. Playing with the transparency levels gives you control over the outcome.
My understanding is that while the in-focus image gives the detail, the blurred image gets the bleeding of the water paints on the canvas.
You can read about it directly from the man himself here.
The technique I've seen for the Orton Effect in photoshop uses two duplicate layers. The first is set to screen, and creates a very light version of the image. The second is blurred and set to multiply blend mode. Compared to Mark Whitaker's version, this recipe will tend to produce a lighter, more ethereal effect.
Precise steps, a downloadable action, and a podcast with Michael Orton here: Orton Imagery – The Orton Effect – Interview with Michael Orton and Darwin Wiggett