A Few Ways to Add Color to IR Images

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

In a post on my old blog, I showed you how to add the “blue sky” effect to infrared photographs. While I think this effect is cool, I was surprised to learn that not all of you think it’s that great of an effect. And so, in our never-ending quest to provide as many options as possible for all forms of infrared (and car) photography, I would like to present a few alternatives:

Many cameras that offer a built-in black and white mode also have a sepia mode, so you can tone images as you shoot. You can also add color later in Photoshop using the toning filters that are found in Pixel Genius’ PhotoKit;  I especially like the plug-in’s Platinum tone to subtly tone images. You can add hand-coloring effects using layers; click here to see a tutorial I did with a photograph of a Porsche Speedster.

Brad Buskey’s InfraRed Adjustment Action for Photoshop lets you add subtle color to a digital infrared file and works best before you’ve converted the image to monochrome. Tip: 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 above image of an Allard and it’s a good choice for easily adding a dash of color to IR files. The action applies all its changes via adjustment layers, allowing you to undo or tweak each of the changes to suite your taste.

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 $9.83 as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon with used copies selling for two bucks, way less than your next coffee at Starbucks.