Jeff WalkerComment

The Orton Effect in Lightroom & Photoshop

Jeff WalkerComment
The Orton Effect in Lightroom & Photoshop

Oh the Orton Effect. Soft, dreamy and contrasty in all the right places. This little trick does more to a photo than any other adjustment. Its origins stem from the 80's where multiple photos were taken, overexposed, underexposed then slightly out of focus. Today we apply it to a single photo in under a minute with both Lightroom and Photoshop. Here's how:


It's all about the brushes!

  1. Start with a brush set to +0.5 Exposure. Apply to the already bright areas.
  2. Dark brush set to -0.7 Exposure. Apply to dark or shadow areas.
  3. Saturated brush +45. Brush over the bright areas with a very soft (feathered) brush. Medium flow, medium density.
  4. Declarity/Unsharpen brush over most of the image. 
  5. Clarity/Sharpen brush over anything with detail.
  6. Lastly, increase the overall contrast. Globally, not with a brush. I use the tone curve for the most natural results.

Yaaay, you're done. All without leaving Lightroom!! Congrats :)



  1. Do the usual processing in Lightroom and overexpose image by 2/3 stop.
  2. Load image into Photoshop.
  3. Duplicate layer (MAC Command+J) (PC Control+J) 
  4. Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur
  5. For 12-24 megapixel sensors choose 15px radius. 24-36 MP choose 22px radius. 
  6. Go to blending mode where it says "Normal" (Just above your layers). Change to Multiply
  7. Change Opacity to your desired level. I use between 20-50%
  8. Highlight both layers and Merge Layers (MAC Command+E) (PC Control+E)


  • Add layer mask to Orton layer and mask in/out your desired areas. 

There you have it. 2 ways to use this dreamy effect :)