Capturing Digital Infrared in Black & White

A recent e-mail from a reader asked: I  had my Canon 30D converted to infrared and have been experimenting with it.  It is very cool and loads of fun but every photo seems to come out with a magenta-ish tone.  At first, it was blue-ish, which I prefer but no matter what I do, including making a Custom White Balance setting, it seems to be magenta. I can play with it in Lightroom and with Silver Efex Pro 2.0, or in Photoshop’s RAW but I am wondering if there is some setting I am missing to have them come out more blue-ish or even more black and white-ish in the camera.  I have researched this pretty well on the web, and have found some interesting articles but nothing on point with this issue.

There are two possible answers:

customWBFirst, if you want to do it in camera, the first thing you should do is run outside and set a custom white balance by making a photograph of the grass on your lawn or a park or whatever. Select Custom WB from your camera’s menu, which lets you pick your test image, then click OK. You may have to (sorry) read your User’s Guide to see how it works for your specific camera but it’s just a matter of making a photograph, pulling a few menus and pressing a button. No matter what camera you use, it’s that easy. But keep in mind that whether you use an IR filter on your camera or have it converted by a company like LifePixel (see below) sometime the results can have a slight color shift.


Second, Shoot in your camera’s Monochrome mode. You can find all the details and my philosophy on this approach in a post entitled ‘Setting White Balance for IR Photography.’ It has all the scoop you need on the subject. And is any of these options, you can always click the Contact button atop this page and ask a specific question. There is no charge for this.

IR.ACRThird. If you want to do it in the digital darkroom, here’s another way. Capturing images using RAW format give you the best shot at maximizing imaging quality but I hedge my bets by shooting in RAW+JPEG, with the camera set in Monochrome mode. This gives me a preview of what the image will look like in black & white that I use in Adobe Bridge to select the RAW image I will use. Then I open the raw file, sometimes using ACR to tweak the image using the Clarity and Vibrance sliders. Then I use Silver Efex Pro to convert the RAW file to black and white.

Tip: You can have your camera converted for IR capture, keeping in mind that afterwards this makes it an IR-only camera. When converting your camera to infrared by LifePixel, you can save a some time for the conversion process by using  coupon code “farace.” is the author of the now out-of-print “The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography.” But used copies are available on, eBay or your favorite used book store. As I write there is a possibility of my writing a new book on this subject. I’ll keep you posted.

Author: Joe Farace

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