Creating Infrared Images in Color

by | Jul 24, 2018

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

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 DSLRs and mirrorless cameras that offer a built-in black and white mode include sepia toning, so you can tone your infrared images as you shoot by using the camera’s Monochrome option.

You can also add color using the toning filters that are found in Pixel Genius’ PhotoKit plug-in although there is more to this indispensable plug-in than toning. 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 color 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 made some tweaks in 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.

The above image was shot with my old Canon EOS 50D that was converted to IR by LifePixel (that I later sold via the Garage Sale.) I attached a manual focus Zenitar 16mm f/2.8 lens that was set at its hyperfocal distance for the aperture. Av mode exposure was 1/400 sec at f/16 and ISO 400. Original RAW file at right.

Another alternative for adding color to your infrared images is by using Brad Buskey’s InfraRed Adjustment Action that (keep scrolling 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 on the cover of my Creative Digital Monochrome Effects book. (see below)


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Used copies of my book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography is currently available from Amazon starting $22.44 as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and new copies are available from Amazon for $29.64 with used copies starting at a little more than two bucks, which is a heckuva deal.