May 14, 2010

32

Post-Processing Infrared Photographs in Photoshop

I have recently become interested in Infrared Photography and I had a bit of trouble finding good ways to post-process my IR photos. So, here is my method to editing those starkly ‘red/magenta’ photographs!

This is the before/after shot:

http://www.images.scottphotographics.com/post-processing-infrared-photographs-in-photoshop-gimp/post-processing-infrared-photographs-in-photoshop-gimp.jpg

Infrared Post-Processing

Infrared photography is a special technique in which you use an Infrared Filter, which you attach over your lens like any other lens filter – then take an exposure using a fairly long shutter speed (dependent on light source). The IR-Filter blocks all other light and allows only Infrared light to pass through onto your sensor/film. The photograph you end up with has a very red/magenta Hue, which now presents us with the task of post-processing the photograph to create an interesting representation of our world in Infrared light.

Please be aware that not all cameras are ideal for infrared photography, mainly due to the strong IR filters already within the camera designed to protect the cameras sensor. To test whether your camera is ideal or not, simply grab a remote control with an IR transmitter (most TV remotes), and switch to your live view mode. Aiming the remote at your camera while pressing the buttons, you should notice the “purple” colour of the remote transmitter light. The intensity will vary for every camera, however put simply the greater amount of light that you see the better your camera is for Infrared photography.

I’ve done this Photoshop :

1. Starting

  • Firstly open your raw IR photograph in Photoshop
  • If you use the raw editing interface it is very easy to reduce the red – this should open automatically when opening your raw file through Photoshop

In Camera Raw 5.0/6.0:

  • Choose custom White Balance, and set the Temperature to 2000
  • Adjust the Tint to full green -150, if needed:
  • Adjust the Saturation (Bottom) – I have reduced mine by -56
  • You can do minor adjustments in Camera Raw, or just leave and open up the image
  • I also recommend looking at the HSL/Grayscale (fourth tab) options for further refinement, adjusting the Hue especially!
  • At this point I had done most of my editing and was reasonably happy with the result! You might as well!
post processing infrared photographs in photoshop gimp

Camera Raw Adjustments (Click to view larger)

2. Channel Mixer (recommended)

  • Now, we need to change the colours Red and Blue by colour swapping:
  • Go, Image –> Adjustments –> Channel Mixer
  • Swap Red to Blue: 0%, 0%, 100%
post processing infrared photographs in photoshop gimp

Channel Mixer – Red (Click to view larger)

  • Swap Blue to Red: 100%, 0%, 0%
http://www.images.scottphotographics.com/post-processing-infrared-photographs-in-photoshop-gimp/post-processing-infrared-photographs-in-photoshop-gimp-02.5.jpg

Channel Mixer – Blue (Click to view larger)

2.b. Inversion Layer

A simpler method is to duplicate the original, then invert the duplicate, and set to color blend:

  • Duplicate Layer,
  • Invert layer, go Image –> Adjustments –> Invert (Cmd/Ctrl + I)
  • And set to Color blend mode:
http://www.images.scottphotographics.com/post-processing-infrared-photographs-in-photoshop-gimp/post-processing-infrared-photographs-in-photoshop-gimp-02.75.jpg

Invert Layer – Colour Blend (Click to view larger)

3. Hue Shift

  • Now colouring your photograph with a simply Hue Shift:
  • Go, Image –> Adjustments –> Hue (Cmd/Ctrl + U)
  • And slide to your desired colour:
http://www.images.scottphotographics.com/post-processing-infrared-photographs-in-photoshop-gimp/post-processing-infrared-photographs-in-photoshop-gimp-04.jpg

Hue Shift (Click to view larger)

4. Levels

  • Now, use levels to correct the whites, go Image –> Adjustments –> Levels (Cmd/Ctrl + L)
  • Either clicking Auto Levels will work or using the white point sampler on grass, leaves will do the job:
http://www.images.scottphotographics.com/post-processing-infrared-photographs-in-photoshop-gimp/post-processing-infrared-photographs-in-photoshop-gimp-03.jpg

Levels adjusting Whites

Result:

http://www.images.scottphotographics.com/post-processing-infrared-photographs-in-photoshop-gimp/gum-tree-victoria-bush-hdr.jpg

Result

 

That’s it :)! If you get stuck anywhere just comment below!

If you’d like to use these photographs please Contact Me!

Please comment below if you have any questions and I’ll answer them ASAP!

All images on this site are copyrighted© – All Rights Reserved.

Written by Mike

Michael Scott is the publisher and photographer behind Scott Photographics! He is very passionate about his photography and enjoys sharing the best of his experiences for others to enjoy too! Contact Mike via email!
Read more from Featured, Photoshop, Tutorials
32 Comments Post a comment
  1. Richard Bates
    Sep 22 2016

    Would love some help with editing IR photos! Available for a quick online chat sometime!?

  2. rob
    Jan 29 2016

    to get the grass and leaves white you need to set the custom white balance correctly. take a shot of the grass near where you are shooting, ensuring the light does not change significantly between time of sampling and the actual shoot – this bit is important. then in the menu choose custom white balance and go through the process. the camera should ask you to accept the grass photo as the WB, say ok to this. then (and this is the crucial step often missed) you need to set the WB on the camera to custom (most canons have the WB set options somewhere near the main buttons on the back). do this and it should work providing your camera will see IR and also if you are using a decent filter. exposure times can be long if it is not a really sunny day – on a dullish day mine take 2 mins or so using a hoya filter. also don’t forget to cover up your viewfinder so no light gets through

  3. Sep 27 2015

    Hi,

    Sorry for the late reply, unfortunately technology has moves all too quickly, and IR post-processing too, so please checkout some of my links in the comments below, however I have come to the realisation that IR photography does require a level of hardware modification, and cannot be entirely done in post-processing. Cameras do vary in their IR filtering, and you can check this with a TV remote by pressing a button and pointing at your camera while in liveview.

    Please comment if you are more informed and know more about this exciting photographic technique:)

    Cheers,
    Mike

  4. Colin
    Sep 25 2015

    Great information, I have set a custom white balance but still can not get the grass white etc.

    Do you have any settings for white balance, mine is 2000.

  5. Jun 25 2015

    Great result. Although I’m big fan of IR photos mine with Canon 100d looks like red poo. I thought that the only problem will be “hot spot”… Nah… No hot spot there. Only mad photographer.The best IR photos I’ve made with my telephone @_@. F* I give up.

  6. May 25 2015

    Hi Dorothy,

    Possibly look at Image>Adjustments>Color Balance (Ctrl B / Cmd B)

    Particularly changing the Magenta balance.

    Kind Regards,
    Michael

  7. Dorothy Wannop
    May 22 2015

    Please can someone tell me how to get rid of pinkish tinge on the whites of leaves etc.?

  8. Aug 15 2014

    Hi Stefan,

    Unfortunately, I have not done a CS6 version…I believe the principle is still the same, and the tools used should be too (might be in different locations).

    Also checkout this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_7K6wGqKYQ & http://www.lifepixel.com/

    I hope that helps!

    Cheers,
    Mike

  9. Aug 14 2014

    hi,
    I am using adobe cs6 have you done an updated version of this
    tutorial as some of the setting don’t work out, I have taken infrared
    pictures with my Nikon d800 I have tried taking a white balance
    of grass, my biggest problem is with the processing to make it
    look right any help would be much appreciated,stefan

  10. Nina
    Feb 25 2014

    Great tutorial! I just wish I had photoshop… :( Am using GIMP so will try to translate these steps into that programme – any chance of a GIMP version appearing here, as I imagine I’ll be in need of help!

  11. Sep 2 2012

    Really nice making and also a great shearing

  12. Thanks for sharing that technique, I’ve been looking for these colors for some weeks now !

  13. graymalkin
    Jun 5 2011

    I have a Sony DSC-V1, and was excited when I discovered I could take IR with the NightShot feature. Read everything I could find on IR with my model camera (and others), bought a Hoya R72, Tiffen ND .09, SKY 1-A, Circular Polarizer – basically every filter I saw recommended for getting good results in IR. Fairly pleased with the results, but have always wanted to take my green-tinted photos and get the post-processing results I see posted. I have followed every tutorial step-by-step, with frustrating results. I’m still using PhotoShop 6, and I have Bibble Pro 5. Just can’t seem to achieve anywhere near the results I see others getting. Very frustrating!
    If anyone could take the time to lead me step-by-step to achieve the results I’m seeking, I’d be tremendously grateful!

  14. May 22 2011

    Thanks Armel!

  15. May 19 2011

    I love the lightning and contrast balance, great post-processing outcome.

  16. May 1 2011

    Great to hear Nelson, and fantastic result!

  17. Nelson Charette
    Apr 20 2011

    Scott, great picture.
    I used your settings, and used them in Lightroom, then saved a preset, then made an action in Photoshop.
    Thanks alot.

    Here’s the first attempt.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nkyphoto/5636492002/

    Nelson

  18. Jan 23 2011

    Thanks Nathan!

  19. Jan 22 2011

    Beautiful image!

  20. Nov 15 2010

    Hi Jason,

    The colourful infrared photos have been coloured in Photoshop with a simple hue shift or even with specific selections and so on.

    I’ll see if I can come up with some screenshots for you in the future!

    Cheers,

    Michael

  21. Jason Young
    Nov 14 2010

    Hi, Dear friend:

    I’m very impressed your “Post-processing infrared photograph in photoshop” on web. I’ve got useful information for this topic,
    but I have question that I saw a lot of colorful infrared images on web,
    how did it come out through photoshop software?
    I will great appreciated if you can answer my question.
    Thanks!
    With regards

    Jason Young

  22. Jul 1 2010

    nice post. thanks.

  23. Jun 17 2010

    Great post!

  24. Michael
    May 17 2010

    Hey Louis,

    Thanks for the feedback :)

  25. May 17 2010

    Fantastic work! I dig that photo very much! If you’re on facebook, add me to see some of my infrared photography. I’m a semi-expert on post-processing IR photos and I can teach you some ways that will speed up your work flow while producing great results! Send me an email or just add me on facebook with “Infrared Photography” in the message field…

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