Skill Level 301 (Advanced)
Digital infrared photography is super, super fun, and is an amazing way to shoot, both from pastoral landscapes to well-known landmarks. I started doing it years ago when the internet was a wee baby when it came to such subjects, so the majority of my knowledge came from pure trial and error.
This tutorial will use Nikon cameras as a base, but it is easily adaptable to other types of cameras. This tutorial assumes you know your camera, it’s settings, and how to do some level of Photoshop.
There are two halves to digital infrared photography: in-camera and post-processing.
What You’ll Need:
- A DLSR
- An infrared filter (the most commonly used one is Hoya’s R72 filter)
- A tripod
- A cable release (or remote, etc, depending on your camera) (Optional)
- Editing software such as Photoshop; it needs a Channel Mixer
1. Make sure you are shooting in RAW. The success of your image revolves around your white balance, and RAW will let you do adjustments to your white balance in post in case it’s off in camera.
2. Set your white balance. You can two this in two ways: measuring a new preset white balance, or by dialing in the Kelvin:
- Measuring: Put the filter on your camera and point it at some foliage that is brightly lit. Use your camera’s white balance measuring tool (that depends on your camera, but most DSLRs have it) and if successful, use this as your white balance.
- Kelvin: I prefer to do this, not only because it’s much easier, but because realistically when I’m shooting, I’m not doing solely IR and toggling down to the lowest Kelvin setting on my camera is easier than getting my forgetful brain to remember which preset slot has my IR setting, etc.
3. If you’ve already put on the filter, take it off to focus and compose your shot. (If your lens has autofocus on it, toggle it on; depending on how sensitive your lens’s focus ring is, putting on the filter can nudge it and ruin the shot. Autofocus typically makes rings harder to move.) Make sure your tripod is firmly tensioned. Any slowly sliding camera will ruin your shot.
4. Take your shot. Use a low ISO (around 200 is optimal) to reduce noise; IR is very noisy as it is, and using a higher ISO will amplify that. There is a degree of guessing when it comes to exposure, given that the filter is basically opaque, meaning you can’t meter; I usually have an idea of how much of a long exposure I want, which means you can treat it as shutter priority. I’ll typically look at the conditions and if it’s sunny, pick an f-stop that’s mid-range; cloudier gets more open. Then I’ll shoot and if it’s under or over, compensate as necessary. (After awhile of doing it, you start to ‘feel’ the best exposures for the situation.) IR photos will be darker by nature, so it’s better to opt towards something that might seem too bright than too dark.
Note: I like to use a cable release when doing IR. I prefer to touch the camera as little as possible just to reduce shake or nudging my composition (seriously, I’m stupidly clumsy). Also, psychologically, I’ve found it makes people notice you more and stops them from walking in front of your camera as much. “Oooh, serious artist, better not,” etc.
When you load your image into the computer, it will look something like this:
Your foliage should be slightly blue, while everything else is copper. If you wanted to post the photo like this, you could, it’s your thing. But if you want to get the classic white foliage blue sky look, read on.
In Camera Raw, I equalize any over/underexposure, and boost the Clarity. I also make sure that the Kelvin slider is all the way at 2000k. When you import the image into Photoshop proper, it might look like this (I’m not sure why there’s the color shift from RAW, it might depend on colorspaces, etc):
Go to Image > Auto Tone. After that, do Image > Auto Color.
If your image looks slightly green-tinged like the one above, make a new Color Balance Adjustment Layer and go slightly towards magenta. For this image, I went to -7. Now you’re ready to channel mix!
Flatten the image. Go to Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer.
First, under Output Channel, select Red. Set the Red Channel to 0, and set the Blue Channel to 100. Leave the Green Channel alone.
Then, select Blue under the Output Channel. Set the Red Channel to 100, and the Blue Channel to 0.
Now, you should have something like this:
Now it’s time to remove the red from the trees. Create a new Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer, select Red from the drop down, and go about reducing the saturation of the red. You can also go into Yellow and Magenta and do fine adjustments there as well. That results in this:
From here, the editing potential is up to you! Many infrared artists prefer to stop there. I myself like to do more than that. Play around in Photoshop with different actions, different coloring and different contrast. I typically put mine into Lightroom and edit there from that point, but it’s all up to you! Here are some infrared photographs of my own I’ve edited beyond the channel mixer:
Black and white, softer colors, dramatic contrast… it’s your call. Infrared is so atypical anyway and “unnatural” that you can really go wild experimenting in editing.
If you have any specific questions about infrared photography, don’t be afraid to shoot me a question!
71 Notes/ Hide
- kimonotaku reblogged this from frogmanslightschool
- kerryakelly likes this
- theodorebeardsdale reblogged this from frogmanslightschool
- valerielynn likes this
- hobgod reblogged this from frogmanslightschool
- nicridic likes this
- yourreferences reblogged this from frogmanslightschool
- fuzzymucus likes this
- foxyfries likes this
- rebeccaspictureit reblogged this from frogmanslightschool
- hanners102 likes this
- rodioclown likes this
- starsoverhead likes this
- buzznbraids reblogged this from frogmanslightschool
- buzznbraids likes this
- nongenius likes this
- allietherese likes this
- disco-dancer-donna likes this
- necessarystatement likes this
- cerebrumhabeo likes this
- joonuper likes this
- celticrana likes this
- mysweechi likes this
- sunrosen likes this
- tylonton likes this
- sunreiselove likes this
- herawesomenessmaria likes this
- hgjkfsjh likes this
- jamminlucario reblogged this from frogmanslightschool
- jamminlucario likes this
- harleyashland likes this
- reallylongusername likes this
- isis-222 likes this
- kathryngx14 likes this
- warrimoo likes this
- hobgod likes this
- gittart likes this
- spencerdrakephotography likes this
- heylookitsjon likes this
- theletterdee likes this
- zht09 likes this
- chlodiddilyoh reblogged this from frogmanslightschool
- teebe likes this
- nicolebelongs likes this
- jujyfruit0 likes this
- repzy likes this
- northskyphotography likes this
- orngckn42 likes this
- charlie22me likes this