Creating Infrared Images in Color

You can add color to your infrared photographs at time of capture or later in the digital darkroom. The easiest way is in-camera. Many cameras that offer a built-in black and white mode including a sepia mode, so you can tone as you shoot.


You can also add color using the toning filters found in Pixel Genius’ PhotoKit. If you like to tinker you can create the same effects using adjustments layers for Hue Saturation, Levels, Brightness and Contrast and then doing the Blue Sky channel swap that I’ve written about before. The actual settings are up to you and you need to make adjustments as Emeril says to “season to taste and then Bam!” In this case I added some tweaks in Vivenza and finally added the Glamour Glow filter that’s part of Color Efex Pro. If I have some time over the winter, I’ll try to write a Photoshop action to simplify the process and if I manage to accomplish that feat, I’ll make it available here for a free upload.

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-2-54-32-pmThe image was shot with my old Canon EOS 60D that was converted to IR by LifePixel and a Zenitar 16mm f/2.8 lens set at hyperfocal distance. Av mode exposure was 1/400 sec at f/16 and ISO 400. Original RAW file at right.

Another alternative is Brad Buskey’s InfraRed Adjustment Action that adds subtle color to a digital infrared files and works best before you’ve converted the file to monochrome. Like all tweaks the more color you start with the more color you end up with.

IR.bookMy book, “The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography,” is out-of-print but used copies are available from Amazon for  $7.00, as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon with new copies selling for less than six bucks and used copies at a giveaway—$2.60.

Author: Joe Farace

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