A Few Ways to Create Color Infrared Images

by | Jul 31, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

There are lots of choices: You can add color to your infrared photographs at the time of capture or later in the digital darkroom. Probably the easiest way to accomplish adding color is in-camera. Many DSLRs and mirrorless cameras that include a built-in black and white mode also include sepia and other kinds of toning, so you can tone your infrared images as you shoot by using the camera’s built-in Monochrome option.

You can also add color using the set of toning filters that are found in Pixel Genius’ now free PhotoKit plug-in although there is more to this, what I consider indispensable plug-in, than toning. If you like to tinker you can create the same effects using Photoshop’s adjustments layers for Hue Saturation, Levels, Brightness and Contrast and then doing the Blue Sky channel color swap that I’ve written about before. The actual settings used for this effect are up to you and you need to make adjustments as Emeril says to “season to taste and then Bam!”

How I made this shot: The above image was shot near Brighton, Colorado using my old Canon EOS 50D (that I later sold) and was converted to IR by LifePixel.  I mounting a manual focus Zenitar 16mm f/2.8 lens that was set using the hyperfocal distance for the aperture. The Av mode exposure was 1/400 sec at f/16 and ISO 400. The original RAW file can be seen at right.

In this case I made some tweaks using Vivenza and then added the Glamour Glow filter that’s part of Color Efex Pro. If I have some time over the summer, 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.



Another alternative for adding color to your infrared images is by using Brad Buskey’s InfraRed Adjustment Action that (keep scrolling on this linked page and you will find it) 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. It was used to create one of the images (the Allard automobile) on the cover of my Creative Digital Monochrome Effects book. (see below)





If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to buy Joe a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), click here.

Copies of my out-of-print book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography are available new from Amazon starting $16.20, with used copies starting at $12/24 as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography with new copies are available from Amazon for $31.40 with used copies starting at a little more than two bucks, which is a heckuva deal. There are no Kindle version of either book available at this time.