Learn how to create a Faux Orton Effect in Lightroom, which produces intriguing photos using glowy colors and contrasting details. I also demonstrate how to save the effect as a preset to reuse over and over again.


Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to create the Orton effect or a faux Orton effect on an image in Lightroom.

I have an example of the Orton effect that we’re going to create here in Lightroom. This is the original image and this is the image with the Orton effect applied to it. What I’ve done is I’ve softened the image and then tried to boost the blacks a little bit. You can’t get a true Orton effect in Lightroom because you can’t apply layers in an image. So what I’m trying to do is to bring in some of the characteristics of an Orton effect, a slightly lighter more glowy sort of image with some sharp blacks in it and a sort of hazy look to it. So let’s see how we might do this.

With this image open in Lightroom, first of all I’m going to the Develop module and I’m going to upgrade this one because it’s been worked on in earlier version of Lightroom. So I’m just going to upgrade it to the new process version. And I’m happy with that so let’s just go back to the image that we’re working on. I’m going to make a virtual copy so we can see how far we’ve come. And we’re going to be working on this virtual copy.

Now the first thing I’m going to do is just adjust this image. I’m not so much worried about the histogram as I am about getting some things out of this image that I want to get out of it. But I’m going to turn off the highlight clipping because I’ve got that turned on here. You can see highlight clipping is showing here. So I want to hide this for now. Let’s turn off the histogram and let’s just adjust the image a little bit. I’m just going to set my black point. You can see I’ve got the Alt or Option key held and I’m just trying to darken this to get some blacks in the image. It needed quite a bit of darkness in the image. And let’s go up with the whites right now.

Okay, so once I’ve got the image adjusted reasonably well to get a little bit of contrast and I’m starting to see some blacks let’s start going for this Orton effect. And one of the things we’re going to do is to reduce clarity. So we’re going to bring the clarity right down on this image. I do want quite a bit of vibrance because I want a quite a bit of color. And now let’s go and add some more reduced clarity. I’m going to click the graduated filter. Now this allows me to apply a graduated filter to the image. And it needs to be anchored to a side of the image. So I want it anchored to the top so I’m just going to drag down here to create it. And because it has saturation set to minus one hundred what we’re seeing is that we’re seeing no saturation in this images at all. So that’s convincing us that this is the graduated filter. Of course I do want saturation in that image so I’m going to take it back to normal but I am going to reduce clarity. And that’s adding some more of that softening effect to this image. And I’ll click Done.

Now I can boost that even more by adding a second graduated filter to do exactly the same thing. So again, clicking on Graduated Filter, making sure I select New. This time I’m going to drag up. It doesn’t matter whether I go up or down but I just want two filters on this image. So I want to add the effect. So here’s the second filter. Again, the default on this one is for saturation to be minus one hundred. I just want to take that back to normal. And what I want to do is kill the clarity. And I can also kill the sharpness by taking that down a bit too. I might increase the exposure a little bit more in the way of highlights. And I can go to this one as well, click on this and again, bring down the sharpness on this layer, just tweak that a little bit and maybe add a little bit of exposure and highlights on that one, maybe even some shadows until I get the effect that I’m looking for. And I’ll click Done.

At this point I may want to come back and re-adjust my blacks on the whole of the image. You can see that the blacks have been affected by that adjustment and I don’t have nearly as much black as I had before. So let’s go in and adjust the blacks. Having done that I’ve brought way more black in I think than I want. So let’s just go and bring up the highlights a bit on the basic image underneath all those adjustments, and again, kick up the shadows a little bit.

So there’s the basic Orton effect applied to the image and having done that I could just go onto the next image. But I could also make this a preset that I can use in future. In the Develop module I can go up to presets here and I can click the plus symbol. So here we are New Orton because I think I have an old one, okay, and I’m going to select which options I want in there. I do want graduated filters. I didn’t use split toning. I did use color. I did use process version and calibration. I didn’t use any post-crop vignetting or grain. I didn’t use any lens correction or noise reduction here. I did use some color. I didn’t use any sharpening so I’m going to that out. I didn’t use any tone curve adjustment. But I did adjust clarity and I did adjust these settings. I didn’t adjust white balance. So now that I’ve made a selection of everything that I want added to this particular develop preset, I’m just going to click to create it.

Now this is a new Orton preset. And of course it’s been applied to this image by default. But let’s go and get another image shot in similar circumstances to this and let’s go and apply it to this image. And all I do is to click New Orton, and it is than applied to this image. The process version is applied and all of the settings that we included including the two graduated filters here and here. The reason why I used a graduated filter and not adjustment brush is that adjustment brush cannot be included in a develop preset whereas the graduated filter can. And now I’ve got a new Orton preset that I can use with any of my images. All I do is click on the image and then click on this new Orton preset and it’s automatically applied to the images.

Now if I don’t like it I can Ctrl Z to undo it. In the case of this image that I had already applied it to I kind of like it, but I think the saturation is too much. So I can use that as a starting point for working with this image. And I can then adjust the sliders because all you’re doing by creating a preset in Lightroom is actually recording what the sliders are set at. So you can use that as a starting point and then adjust the sliders as you like from there.

So there’s how to create a faux Orton preset in Lightroom to apply to your images. I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. If you liked the tutorial please like the video here on YouTube. Think about subscribing to my YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we launch videos which at the moment is a couple of times a week.

Helen Bradley