How to create the “Dragan Effect”

The Dragan Effect | Photographers Blog

Lately, we are viewing even more photos in social media with the Dragan Effect applied. But what is it, why is called like that and how we can apply it to our pictures. For sure, not all pictures are in favor of this effect. Mostly the portraits of elderly men are in big advantage of this category.

After our presentation of Orton Effect many people message me to show them this effect. So,we will see the Polish photographer Andrzej Dragan, who gave his name in that effect, and the steps required in order to achieve it in Photoshop.

  • Who is Andrzej Dragan.

Andrzej Dragan is a Polish independent film director and photographer, best known for his darkly romantic images which are both profoundly alienating and deeply evocative. Altering the perspectives of vision and emotion, his photography captures the simple, elemental dynamics and subtleties of human anatomy. His dark and dreamlike imagery reflects on our conflicting emotions and the difficulty of seeing the world from a highly individual viewpoint.

Dragan began to develop his unique vision while working as an illustrator for advertising agencies. Following his break from advertising, he went freelance, painting for various artists, traveling and taking photos at home and while traveling. As he began to develop his unique style, he discovered how his fascination with abstract art, combined with an interest in quantum physics and psychology, formed the basis of his unique photography. His photographs have a painterly sense, with strong references to elements of nature and spirituality. However, Dragan continues to work today, producing contemporary art that resonates with his deep sense of aesthetics and spirituality.

The late Andrzej Dragan is best known for his award-winning photo essay entitled 'The Quantum Dance' which was exhibited at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. The essay was accompanied by works created in the similar vein, entitled 'The Quantum Dance' and 'The Quantum Point'. In these works, Dragan explored ideas of quantum mechanics and the human mind through a series of highly abstract paintings. In his own words, he attempts to "show the reader how we can re-design the universe" using "quantum theory".

While most of us will be familiar with Dragan's well known pieces which have been shown around the world, perhaps none are as widely appreciated as his commemorative exhibition 'The Quantum Files'. The concept of this exhibition, founded by Andrzej Dragan was to highlight the hidden connections between quantum mechanics and art - both in the visual form and in the form of photographic imagery. Dragan believed that through his research, he had found evidence that seemed to support the 'secret science' of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity - namely that space and time are different entities, whose relationship can be compared to the 'laws of energy', which Einstein's theory was based on. In the course of his research, Dragan came across an intriguing article by English philosopher and physicist John Locke. In the article, Locke argued that we could understand the behaviour of the sub-atomic particles by considering their effects on each other.

The relevance of this idea to our understanding of quantum mechanics and the special theory of relativity, as we know it today, led Dragan to launch a new line of work called 'asma sciences'. The resulting aim of this discipline was to explore the connection between the human mind, its structure and processes and the environment. The initial findings from this research were reported in a book entitled 'asma sciences - overview and research programmes' which was first released in 1970.

A decade later, Andrzej Dragan developed and led a research programme known as 'physics for living beings', using a similar approach to that pioneered by Locke. His main areas of interest in this time were in neurology, neurophysiology and information technology. He did not altogether agree with the emphasis put upon consciousness in this area, feeling that it was important to remember that consciousness is not a necessary component of the physical structure of an organism. Furthermore, in spite of this broad divergence, there was agreement that neurology and neurophysiology play an important role in the understanding of how the human body works. It was also agreed that it was in the interest of these fields that significant advances are made, especially as they relate to the understanding of the structures and functions of the nervous system, particularly the brain.

  • How to create it in Photoshop.

Let’s see now step by step how to create this effect in Adobe Photoshop. As always, there are many ways to perform such actions. I will show you my way of things. First duplicate the layer by Control + C (Cmd+C), then desaturate the layer by Ctrl+Shift+U (Cmd+Shift+U). Afterwards we duplicate again the desaturated layer and by right click we convert it to smart filter. We change the blending to Vivid Light and we apply High pass filter (Filter/ Other/ High Pass). The value of the filter is as per our taste. Some people prefer it strong some other softer. We convert it to smart filter in order to be able to return back and adjust it afterwards.

Then we put the two layers in a group by selecting them and pressing Ctrl+G (Cmd+G) and change again the blending mode to Overlay this time. Generally at this point we finish. In case we need further adjustment we can add a curves layer (in order to dodge and burn as per our taste), a levels layer or even a HSL layer in order to desaturate more the picture. All these adjustments are as per your own will and there isn’t any standard.

So what’s in for the next step? Have a look at our presets to transform your images quickly and efficiently. Afterwards you have to read the blog posts regarding over-editing your pictures which is another common mistake that we do and then read about the Orton Effect, another cool editing trick that you should be aware and capitalize it when in need. I hope you find useful these landscape photography editing tips.

Thank you !

Harris Kiakotos

I am a Captain on Oil Tanker vessels and a photo enthusiast. I follow my photography passion and I will reply to any inquiry you may have. As so, do not hesitate to contact me.

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