Give Your Photos a Healthy Glow

Try this trick for making your photos gorgeous

You might not know his name, but you've almost certainly seen photos influenced by a technique he pioneered for film photography. I'm talking about Michael Orton, the creative force behind a breathtakingly gorgeous style. Here's his process, in a nutshell: Take two photos of the same scene (one in focus and the other out of focus, both somewhat overexposed) and combine them. The result is a photograph with a beautiful, almost eerie glow, like this.

Here's the rub: I only had a single shot to make that image, so I used a digital shortcut. It took me about a minute to do it, using Corel's Paint Shop Pro--though you can use almost any image editing program. This week I'll show you how.

Layer Your Photos

Let's start with a bland photo of my son sightseeing near a lighthouse (or substitute any photo of your own).

Open this photo in Paint Shop Pro and duplicate it in a second layer by choosing Layers, Duplicate from the menu bar. You won't see a difference in the photo itself, but you should see a second layer appear in the Layer Palette on the right side of the screen. (If the Layer Palette isn't visible, toggle it on by choosing View, Palettes, Layers.)

Next, make a second duplicate layer in the same way. You should now see three layers in the palette. To keep them all straight, right-click the first layer (the one called "Copy of Background") and choose Rename, then type in Sharp and press Enter. Then rename "Copy (2) of Background" to "Blurry."

Overexpose Your Shot

Next, we'll simulate overexposing the photo. Click on Sharp in the Layers Palette and change the blending mode from the default of Normal to Screen. You can find the blending mode in the Layers Palette menu, right above the three layers. Again, you won't see a difference, because you just screened the middle layer. Then right-click Sharp and choose Merge, Merge Down. The Sharp layer will disappear, having just been merged into the original background layer.

Add the Blur

Now it's time to make the top layer blurry. Click the layer you named Blurry to select it, then choose Adjust, Blur, Gaussian Blur. The amount of blur is controlled by the Radius setting and will depend upon the size of the photo. For the fairly small sample I provided, try a setting around 9. If you're working with a larger image, say 6 megapixels, I'd start around 14 or 15. The key is to add a significant amount of blur without completely obscuring the detail.

The final step? With Blurry still selected, change the blend mode from Normal to Multiply. You should get something like this.

Feel free to experiment with alternative blur levels and blending modes. You might also want to vary the opacity of the top layer to fine-tune the effect.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dave Johnson

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?