White Balance for IR Photography

One way is to make a custom white balance for your infrared converted camera is by making a picture of a healthy (green) lawn and use it as a reference image. Every camera sets custom white balance in different ways so please refer to your camera owner’s manual.That’s on way to do it…

…but here’s my advice paraphrased from a classic movie: “We don’t need no stinkin’ white balance.” Some purists and IR gurus may disagree with this statement because I’m breaking one their cast iron principles, but my goal with all my photography—infrared included—is to have fun. H

Here’s a few tips for shooing with an infrared converted camera and truth be told, will work just as well if you’re shooting using IR filters.

Shoot in Monochrome mode. No white balance needed, everything is right there on your LCD screen and your image file appears in glorious black & white. If the thought of shooting JPEG is anathema to you, shoot in RAW+JPEG with the camera in monochrome mode serviong only to produce a  preview of the LCD  but a RAW file for later processing.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 10.01.01 AMRAW images are going to exhibit a magenta cast as seen in the above photograph. O pen the file in Adobe Camera Raw, ignore the White Balance pop-up menu, navigate to the HSL/Grayscale tab, and click the Convert to Grayscale button. You can then tweak ago using any of the settings under the Basic tab.

Alternatively, open the now-all magenta file in Silver Efex Pro. The preview thumbnails will show the image automatically converted to monochrome but you can always use the presets or pick another that you like and move the saturation slider to zero to obliterate any remaining magenta cast. I used PhotoKit 2 to give the blow image a Platinum tone.


Remember that some cameras cannot properly white balance infrared images because the files so far out of the normal expected color range. Fortunately there aren’t too many of them and that’s what RAW capture is all about.

IR.bookMy book, “The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography,” is out-of-print but new copies are available from Amazon for $19.95, as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon with new and used copies selling for $2.55, a price that can’t be beat for one of my favorite books.

Author: Joe Farace

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