Monday, 12 June 2017

My current processing workflows for ‘faux’ colour Infrared photography with DSLRs

Readers of this blog will be aware that I have tried all sorts of different software and ways of processing ‘faux’ colour images from infrared-converted cameras. I came across the superb article* by Bob Vishneski here on the photographylife website and found his method to be the best, with a second (which he also describes) as a back up to provide greater flexibility on occasion. Both use Lightroom and Photoshop CC plus Nik Collections Silver EfexPro. Both depend on using RAW images.

At present I have two infrared-converted cameras. The first is a Nikon D7100 with a 720 nm filter; the second is a Nikon D80 with a 590 nm filter. Bob Vishneski makes the point that different camera/infrared filter replacement combinations need different settings. His preset developed for his D7100 with 720 nm filter from Kolarivision works fine with images from my D7100 with 720 nm filter (I do not know who did the conversion). I was able to modify the settings for that preset to use with images from my D80 with 590 nm filter simply by moving the Tint slider.

Because there may be months between sessions of processing infrared photographs I like to keep a note of my current standard methods (‘workflow’ in photography-speak; ‘protocol’ in a laboratory).

Vishneski Preset at Import Method

For those who want to use the Vishneski Preset at Import Method, which uses presets on import into Lightroom I show my protocol and the presets below. I cannot say standard protocol because there are stages in it where the final appearance can be affected and experimentation is possible. I do not describe some of the whys and wherefores, adding ‘structure’ with a luminosity blending mode overlay from Silver Efex Pro, for example because they are covered in the Vishneski article.

Camera Calibration Profile Method

The second method I had used before reading the Vishneski article. The Camera Calibration Profile Method relies on using an Adobe Custom DNG Profile for the camera/filter combination that can be applied in the Camera Calibration section of the Develop module in Lightroom before sending the image to Photoshop for the Channel Mixer stage to be applied. Like Bob Vishneski I found little difference between the two methods for the D7100/720 but that with the D80/590 the Vishneski Preset method (using my own tweaks for that combination) produced better results with ‘cleaner’ colours after the Channel Mixer stage in Photoshop. Using a custom DNG profile does have one advantage: in Lightroom, the white balance can be shifted by the Temperature and Tint sliders or by picking an area on the image to set a white balance (e.g. glass or foliage in sun, grass in shade, tarmac in sun, tarmac in shade etc) with marked effect on the image that emerges after the Channel Mixer stage in Photoshop.

Photoshop Channel Mixer Settings

Bob Vishneski has published two Photoshop Channel Mixer settings (shown below). The second one is here; I will not deal with the rest of that second article here suffice it to say that I have tried both of his and compared them with the traditional simple red-blue channel swap. I use what I have called his Type 1 channel mix for the D80/590 combination using both methods in Lightroom (results are better than the conventional swap and the Type 2 channel mix) and the Type 2 mix for the D7100/720 combination, again for both the Preset at Import Method and for the Camera Calibration Profile Method. I have all these Channel Mixer Settings set up as Actions in Photoshop along with the addition of a (Auto) Curves and Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers.


Here are my Workflows or Protocols for the two methods:

Presets for the Preset at Import Method

Preset for my converted D7100-720 nm IR Filter

Preset for my converted  D80-590 nm Filter

*It is worth reading (and ignoring some of the inane) comments at the end of the article.