How to Add Some Color to IR Images

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

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

How I made this shot: Camera was a Panasonic Lumix G5 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 with 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. Brad Buskey’s InfraRed Adjustment Action is another way to adds subtle color to a digital infrared files; scroll to the bottom of the page. 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 IR modified Canon EOS D50 and a manual focus MC 16mm Zenitar f/2.8 fish-eye lens 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 currently out-of-print but used copies are available from Amazon for $7.07 as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon with used copies starting at $7.89.