Adding Some Color to Infrared Images

by | May 19, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

How to add some color to your infrared images? You have several choices: You can add color at the time of capture or afterwards in the digital darkroom. Obviously, the easiest way is in-camera. Cameras that offer a built-in black and white mode almost always have a toning options, so you can tone your infrared images as you shoot JPEG files. You can also add color during post production using any of the toning filters that are found in Pixel Genius’ PhotoKit and I used the plug-in’s Platinum option to tone the below image. For an update on this now-free software, please read this post.

How I made this shot: The camera used was a Panasonic Lumix G5 that was converted to infrared capture by LifePixel. Lens was a Leica M-Mount Voigtlander Super Wide-Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Aspherical III that I borrowed from a friend and was attached to the camera using the inexpensive ($19.95) Fotodiox M-M43 adapter. Aperture preferred exposure was 1/320 sec at f/16 and ISO 400, using hyperfocal focusing.

You can also add hand-coloring effects using layers; click to see a tutorial. Tip: Like all tweaks the more color you start with the more color you end up with. David Burren created a Photoshop Action (click to download) that was used for the below image and is an easy way to add color to IR files. The action applies all its changes via adjustment layers, allowing you to undo or tweak each of the changes.

How I made this shot: The classic Allard sports car was photographed with a Canon EOS D50 that was modified by Life Pixel using their Standard IR (720nm) Filter and a manual focus 16mm Zenitar f/2.8 fish-eye lens that was set at its hyperfocal distance. Exposure in Aperture Priority mode, was 1/160 sec and f/16 at 200.

Life Pixel does a great job with IR conversions and have done most of the conversions for my Canon DSLRs and all of my Panasonic Lumix G-series cameras. This is not a paid or sponsored endorsement, just my experience.

My book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography is available new for $21.89 with used copies stating at around fifteen bucks from Amazon as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon for $19.70 with used copies starting at two bucks! A good deal if I ever heard of one.