Making Ethereal Macro Shots in Camera or in Processing

Colleague Tony Rizzuto has written a pair of articles for the Rocky Mountain School of Photography's blog on macro photography. In them he explains how to create a dreamy, double-exposure effect that's awesome for flower close-ups. You can do this either with your camera, if it has a multiple exposure option, or with photo editing software like Photoshop or Elements (version 10 or newer). Check out the links here.

Double Vision Part 1: Making Your Macro Shots Stand Out
This article describes how to create the effect in camera. If your digital camera does not have a multiple exposure setting, get your hands on a film camera with a multiple exposure feature. Nearly all auto focus film SLRs have this. To ensure your double exposure is not too bright, adjust the ISO setting on the camera using this formula:

number of exposures X film ISO = new film ISO setting

For example, if you want to make two exposures and are using ISO 200 film, set the camera's ISO dial to 400.

2 exposures X 200 ISO = 400 ISO

Now expose your subject normally following Tony's suggestions for focus.

The image of the old headstone below simulates what an in-camera double exposure would look like. My image was made by sandwiching two separate film slides, one in focus and one out of focus, in one slide mount.

Orton effect sandwiching two film slides in one slide mount

Double Vision Part 2: Faking It!
This post describes how to create the effect after the shoot using editing software. Tony references a video tutorial on creating this effect which uses Guided Edit in Elements 10. In this version of Elements the Orton Effect is listed under Photography Effects (also under Photo Effects in Elements 12). In Elements 13 the Orton Effect appears under Camera Effects in the Guided Edit section.

Be sure to enlarge your photo to 100% (View > Actual Pixels) to check the effect of the Noise slider. It is easy to overdo this control. How much noise you want or need also depends on whether you are displaying the photo on screen or on paper. You may need less noise for screen images and more for the result to be visible on paper prints.

Original photo
Orton Effect with Guided Edit in Elements

You can also create the effect manually in Elements using the same steps as Tony shows for Photoshop. The only difference is that the Transform > Scale command in Elements is under Image > Resize > Scale. I like the manual results better because they produce less increase in saturation.

Orton Effect Manually in Elements
These are great ways to think forward to spring in the midst of winter.