How to get the Adamski effect in Photoshop (step by step)

Adamski effect? And why, what is it? You may be wondering. Well, a few weeks ago we started our walk in the new weekly challenge format that we nicknamed photo challenge. I don’t know if you will remember that the first one dealt with the theme: black and white photography, this theme that we (and you) like so much.

It turns out that the winning photograph turned out to be a wonderful image with a impressionistic effect beautiful. This effect is called Adamski effectand as we know that it caused you a lot of interest, we wanted you to have the tools to do it step by step.

Adamski effect. Image by @Pepe_Latas

What is the Adamski effect?

The Adamski effect owes its name to its creator, Josh Adamski (Tel Aviv 1948), a photographer who himself defines his work as impressionism photo.

Via blur techniques and creating the illusion of movement, his images take on an abstract tone, often oneiric and pictorial. His style has become popular and it is increasingly common to find images imitating his technique.

I recommend you take a look at the gallery that appears in this link for more inspiration.

The choice of image

The first step to carry out this photographic technique begins long before opening Photoshop on our computer. The first thing is to choose the image on which we want to work.

This step is essential. I would even tell you that for the next few times, it is not only essential to choose the image, but create it thinking about applying the effect later. This is how you will really get the best results.

Here are some ideas that work really well with the Adamski effect, then you’ll see why:

  • Tree trunks or elongated repeating patterns (buildings, streetlights, trees, etc.)
  • Images with a very marked vanishing point
  • The sea and the movement of the waves
  • a sky with clouds
  • A human element in photography
  • open frames

How to Create the Adamski Effect in Photoshop

The truth is that doing so is very simple and can be a very useful tool to give your images a creative touch. I recommend that you apply it once the image editing is finished.

For images with vertical and horizontal elements

Let’s see it step by step for images with vertical and horizontal elements like a landscape with trees, for example.

The first thing is choose a suitable image to apply the effect, open it in Adobe Photoshop, and triple the layer. To do so, you just have to place yourself on top of the background layer, and with the keyboard shortcut, mark “Control J” twice.

Once you have three layers, you must give each one a name. One will be “vertical”, the other “horizontal” and the other “background” (it will be the original photograph).

add layers

Next, with the “vertical” layer selected, we will go to the menu bar at the top, search for “Filter”->”Blur”->”Motion Blur”.

Filter menu

We will see that a dialog box opens that offers us the possibility of modifying the values ​​of:

  • Angle
  • Distance in pixels.

The angle it’s simply telling it at what angle we want our motion blur to be applied. Since we are in the “vertical” layer, this time we will select an angle of 90º.

The distance in pixels is the intensity of the effect. You can see the results while you move the cursor and adjust it to your liking, but the value will be high, around 500-1000 pixels more or less, and we click “ok”.

motion blur filter

Next we go to the “horizontal” layer, and repeat the adjustments, making sure to leave the angle this time at 0º.

Once done for the two adjustment layers, what we’re going to do is erase the effect in some areas of the image, because we do not want, for example, that the vertical areas of our image have a horizontal blur, but rather we intend to enhance their verticality. The same for the horizontal areas, what we want is a horizontal blur.

To do so, what we will do is add a layer mask to our “vertical” layer.

Add layer mask

Next, we select the brush toolin black color and an opacity around 30% approximately. What we are going to do is erase with the brushthe vertical filter in the areas where the horizontal should appear.

And you would already have it. Now, what happens if you want to erase the effect at a specific point in the image both vertically and horizontally? Then you should continue 😉

Delete the Adamski effect selectively in images with vertical and horizontal elements

As I have already told you, in some images this could end at the previous point. But in my image, for example, I have a human element I don’t want it not only to not have a horizontal filter, I also don’t want it to have a vertical one.

That is, I want a certain area of ​​the image to be “free” of the Adamski effect 😉

To do this, we continue from where we left off with the following steps:

We select the vertical and horizontal layer and put them in a group by clicking on the folder.

create group

Next we add a new mask to the created group.

add mask

Once we have the mask created within the group, we return to the brush in black, a relatively low opacity to begin with, and we dedicate ourselves to erasing the element that we want without the effect.

Adamski in b/w: create group and add mask

You already have your image.


  • We add two layers to the background layer with the Control key J
  • We give them a name: vertical, horizontal and background
  • We apply the motion distortion filter to the vertical and horizontal layers
  • We add a mask to the vertical layer
  • We erase with the brush in black, the areas that we want to keep the effect horizontally.
  • If we want an element to be without the Adamski effect, we continue from here.
  • We create a group with the vertical and horizontal layer
  • We add a mask to the group
  • We erase with the brush in black color and a low opacity
  • And ready. You already have it 😉

Images with only vertical/horizontal elements

Your image may only have vertical or horizontal elements. In this case the philosophy is the same although it is somewhat easier to do because we skip a step.

This is the case of the image that I have given you as an example: since I hardly had horizontal lines, what I have finally done is simply enhance the vertical ones and erase the effect on the people in the photo.

This has been the process:

  • Duplicate the background layer once
  • Give it the name “vertical”,
  • Apply the filter at 90º
  • Add a layer mask
  • Erase with the black brush the area where in my case I have the human element, and with an opacity of approximately 20%, and that’s it.

This was my original image:

Original Image @alexadeblois

And this is the image after applying the Adamski effect adjustments.

Result after applying the Adamski effect @alexadeblois

If you wanted to do it for an image with dominant lines horizontally, I would simply apply the filter at 0º and erase the areas where I don’t want the effect with the brush.

Keep in mind that I have explained the most “complete” options. You may have an image of a horizontal sea and sky that you want to give an abstract touch to without having to erase anything. In that case just apply the 0º motion filter on a new layer and you’re done.

How about? The truth is that the effect is very cool, don’t you think? If you dare to do it, I recommend that you read the article with Photoshop open, and implement the steps one by one. Reading while you apply it, it will be much easier for you to understand and perform. It’s not difficult, but you have to pay attention 😉

I really hope you liked this article and that you take advantage of it to enhance your creativity. And if you help us reach more people by sharing it on your favorite social networks, we can continue creating content for you, longer 😉

Thank you and until next time 🙂