Quick Smartphone Editing Method Makes Your Landscape Photos Pop


Of all the effects that photographers tend to add to their landscape and travel photos, probably the most popular one is called the Orton Effect. When correctly applied, the Orton Effect can add a rich, dreamlike glow to your photos that will enhance them beyond what you can do in editors like Adobe Lightroom.

The Orton Effect is a method of adding a certain dreamlike quality to landscape photos, named after Michael Orton, a Canadian landscape photographer, who pioneered it.

I don’t think there’s too much room to argue with the assumption that we share our photos on social media primarily because we want our family, friends, and followers to enjoy them. I’m not off base here, right? I mean, I know that the driving motivation for sharing my own photos is because I want others to see them. Mind you, that’s entirely different than why I take the photos in the first place. I do that because I love photography and the practice brings me genuine pleasure. But, when it comes to sharing those photos with the world, I’ll admit that my hope is that they’ll be seen and—more importantly—enjoyed by my audience.

One of the ways to facilitate that goal is, obviously, to ensure that the photo is a strong one compositionally speaking. You also want the actual qualities of the photo to be eye-catching. The photo needs to be exposed correctly, the colors need to reflect the overall intended mood, and it ideally will present a subject that your viewers find appealing. There’s a good reason, after all, why photos of the Aurora Borealis, vast mountain ranges under a starry night sky, and vibrant coastal sunsets tend to perform better than other subjects. We just love the majesty and awe that those scenes tend to provoke.

When it comes to how photographers present these types of photos, we tend to employ all sorts of editing techniques and wizardry to make them “pop.” Some techniques, like luminosity masking, for example, allow you to finesse exposure and color with surgical precision. Meanwhile, other techniques are used with the express purpose of adding a stylistic boost and fundamentally augmenting the original aesthetics. In most cases, that results in adding a rich and dreamy glow to the photo and, more likely than not, the method to achieve that ethereal look comes from the Orton Effect.

Fortunately, applying the Orton Effect isn’t a very complicated process and isn’t nearly as involved as, say, luminosity masking (but, we’re comparing apples to oranges). There are tons of instructional videos and articles that can walk you through adding the Orton Effect using desktop apps like Adobe Photoshop. But, I recently challenged myself to see if I could replicate the workflow solely using my iPhone and the results were impressive. So, in the video above, I will walk you through how to add that pop to your photos using the Orton Effect with Adobe PS Express on the iPhone. The app is also available for Android, so no worries there.

About the author: Brian Matiash is a professional photographer, videographer, and published author based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. His passion is to serve other photographers by helping them grow their own visual pursuits. Learn more about Brian by visiting his website, on Instagram, and on YouTube.

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