dinsdag 1 november 2016

Blog 15: The Orton Effect

The Orton effect

One of the questions I get asked very often is; how come some of your photographs have such a dreamy look to them? Well, I am always searching for the magic that was so apparent when I was a little kid that sometimes I want my photographs to reflect that magic. To do this, I use something called the Orton effect. The Orton effect gives the illusion of soft focus while retaining most of the detail and sharpness of the photograph. Creating the Orton effect is very easy and it can be applied to either landscape- and portrait photographs. In landscape photography, it will create bloom lighting, make light softer and colors more intense. In portrait photography it will make the skin and the light softer. I will show you an example for each. 

Orton in landscape photography

Let’s create a dreamy landscape! For this example I have chosen a photograph that I took of a young boy that was running into the sea.
Begin by opening the photograph.

Make your adjustments in Camera Raw as you see fit. For this example, I have upped the light temperature to approximately 5600K.

 I want to create that dreamy effect in this photograph. Press CTRL+J to duplicate the background layer.

If  done right, you will see layer 1 appear, meaning you now have two of the same photographs on top of each other. The next step is applying a Gaussian blur to the top layer. To do this, make sure you have the top layer selected.

Go to Filter à Blur à Gaussian blur.

In  the popup window, select how strong you want the effect to be. You will have to try different settings until you reach the effect you want. In this example I have set the blur to 30 pixels (I have done this one before so I know what is best. It is kind of like cheating J).

You will now have a very blurry photograph! The next step is to set the screen mode to “soft light”.

The result varies on the blur you have added.

In  this case, I have just the right amount of contrast, colour and bloom lighting. If your photograph is too dark or too saturated, you can use the opacity slider to adjust the top layer.

Orton in portrait photography

Now we know how Orton effect works, we can apply it in different fields of photography. I use it a lot on portrait photographs as well. When you apply the Orton effect to a portrait, your will soften the skin and the lighting on the model. The process is the same, with the example that you might want to mask out the effect on the eyes and the hair.
As always, start by opening your photograph. 

Next, follow the instructions for creating the Orton effect. Press Ctrl+J to  duplicate the photograph.

With the top layer selected, go to FilteràBluràGaussian Blur

In  this example, the gaussian blur is set to 20 pixels.

Now change the screen mode to “soft light”.

Oh  my, what happened there? The photograph has way to much contrast and saturation.

To  adjust this, you can either go to “New Layer” and select “Vibrance”, or you can adjust the Opacity of the blurred layer (that is what I mostly do!).

In  this example, the opacity is set to 50%, making her skin and the light softer. Make some further adjustments as you see fit. In this case, I did lower the vibrancy a bit.

In summary:
-          Open the photograph
-          Duplicate the background by pressing ctrl+j
-          Select FilteràBlurà Gaussian Blur
-          Set desired amount of pixels
-          Press OK
-          Select screen mode “soft light”
-          Set opacity
-          Further adjustments

Well there you have one of the Photoshop tricks I use often. I hope you enjoy trying it for yourself! Until next time!

woensdag 26 oktober 2016

Blog 14: Get rid of the bags under your models eyes

Bags under your eyes might be one of the most unflattering things in portrait photography. Everybody has them, caused by stress sleeplessness or worrying. Fortunately for us, it is quite easy to get rid of them, without having to smear a thick layer of makeup on our models, using Photoshop! Let me tell you how.

As usual, we start by opening the photograph. To do this, click on File à Open and then select the photograph you want to process.

Use the RAW converter to make adjustments to your photograph the way you want to. Remember that processing done by Photoshop is non-destructive. If you feel like you made a mistake, just experiment with the settings until you have the photograph you want.

Press the “Open image” button. You can now use the photograph for further processing. Select the magnifying glass and zoom in to approximately 50%. Make sure you have a good view of your subjects eyes. In this example, magnification is set to 50%.

Duplicate this layer by pressing CTRL+J. On the right side of the screen, you can now see Background layer and Layer 1. We are going to do our processing on Layer 1. Make sure that you have selected Layer 1 and that your screen mode is set to “Normal”.

Now we have a clear view of our models face and a layer for processing, it is time to begin to get rid of the bags! Select the “Patch” tool”. This tool is hidden under the “spot healing brush”. Right-click on the spot healing brush and select the patch tool.

Now use the patch tool to select the bags of the model. The patch tool works just like the lasso tool. It will let you select shapes freely.

If you did it right, there will now be a dotted line around whatever you have selected. While keeping the left mouse button pressed, drag the selection to a part of the skin that is smooth. In most cases, this will be right underneath the eyebags.

If you release your left mouse button, Photoshop will give the bags the same smooth structure as the skin that you have selected while keeping lighting and colour intact. Don’t forget that people have two eyes! You have to do the other eye as well. 

We are almost done! It might be so that your model now looks like a plastic doll or the processing looks fake. This is because no person has a perfect smooth skin under her/his eyes.  

To remedy this, you can adjust the opacity of the layer we have just processed. Lower the opacity to return some of the bags and make the skin look a little more natural.


                                Before                                     After


-          - Open the photograph
-          - Make your adjustments in RAW converter
-          - Zoom in to about 50%
-          - Duplicate the background layer CTRL+J
-          - Select the patch tool
-          - Make a selection of the eyebags
-          - Drag the selection to smooth skin
-          - Do the same for the second eye
-          - Adjust opacity to make it a bit more real
-          - Further process the photograph to your liking.

dinsdag 19 januari 2016

Blog 13: The wonderful world of filter systems


As a (landscape)photographer you will encounter them sooner or later: filters. Get up early in the morning, put some water in the machine, add a filter and some coffee.. Sorry, wrong kind of filter. Of course, this blog is not about coffee filters, this blog is about the filters you can use to improve your photographs. Too often you will encounter a scene where the contrast between the sky and the ground is too great to get a nicely exposed photograph (think about a sunset for example), the colours and the blue sky are not what they are cracked up to be or there is too much light to create that beautiful soft cloudy sky by using a slower shutter speed. Luckily for us, there are people that came up with a solution to these, and other, problems. These people worked around these problems by adding a piece of glass in front of their lenses. These pieces of glass is what we call filters. These filters can be used to solve great differences in contrast (gradient filter), revive colours and blue skies (polarizing filters) or help you use those slower shutter speeds in broad daylight (ND filters). These filters exist in all different forms, shapes, sizes and price categories, but they can be divided into two subcategories: screw in filters and system filters.  
Figure 1: Screw in filter (UV)

A screw in filter can be, as the name suggest, screwed on the front of a lens. This is also the greatest advantage of this system. You do not need a special adapter and filter holder to use the filter. Simply take it out of your bag and screw it on your filter. A great disadvantage is that it is a set size. Some lenses are 77mm in diameter, others 63 mm for example. This means that, to use a UV filter on both lenses, you actually have to buy two. Some filters cost a small fortune (you get what you pay for), so buying two is expensive! Another disadvantage is that you are less versatile using these filters. As an example, look at figure number 2. This figure depicts a gradient filter that darkens the bright sky while leaving the ground untouched. If you were to use a screw in gradient filter, you horizon should always be in the middle of your photograph. A system filter (as in figure 2), can be adjusted so that the horizon of the gradient is on 1/3rd of the photograph, making it more versatile. Also, if you change to a lens with a different filter size, you only have to buy a new adapter ring.  
System filters (or filter systems) need special equipment to work. First you need an adapter ring, which is screwed onto the lens. Then you need a filter holder to keep everything in place, and last but not least, you need a filter (as the one seen in figure 2).
Figure 2: Haida filter system (gradient)

Total cost: 255 euros (for one filter). A screw in filter will cost about 90 euros. So why then, do professional photographers opt to use these expensive filters and not just use the screw in filters?
I have asked myself the same question. 

Now, thanks to www.cameraland.nl and www.photosbenelux.nl, I can experience first had what it is like using these filter systems, what possibilities they bring and if and why you should invest in them. Cameraland has asked me to test a new filter system made by Haida. Haida claims to have developed an affordable filter line up that delivers top of the line quality, while leaving the photo quality untouched. I am excited to test these filters!

Christmas came early this year.

In collaboration with Cameraland.nl, it was decided that I will be testing and reviewing some filters. Underneath the Christmas tree there was a special package with my name on it! Obviously I could not wait till Christmas day and decided to unwrap my present.

Figure 3: Unwrapping the present

This present contained the following filters from Haida: a 77mm adapter ring, a 100mm filter holder, a 3 stops ND filter, a 10 stops ND filter and a circular polarising filter.

Figure 4: Christmas came early this year

The first thing I noticed is how much well these filters are packed using special casings for all of them. All filters come with a special protective casing. There was even a special casing that allows you to carry the adapter ring, filter holder and one of the ND filters!

Figure 5: filters and their casings

After opening everything, I faced my first challenge. How do I use these filters? I am used to using screw in filters, but here I was, sitting in my studio with an adapter ring, filter holder and some filters. So I set back and took some time to think!

 Before long, I had the system figured out (go me, it was very easy) and a filter on my lens. During the coming weeks I will test the different filters and tell you what I think. You can follow my journey through the wonderful world of filter systems on www.facebook.com/photojitsu.nl or www.photojitsu.nl/haida.html!  

Blog 15: The Orton Effect

The Orton effect One of the questions I get asked very often is; how come some of your photographs have such a dreamy look to them? Well...