Add Some Color to Your Infrared Images

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

In a post on my old blog, I showed how to add the blue sky effect to your 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 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 as I show on a tutorial 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.

How I made this shot: I photographed this Allard with a Canon EOS D50 that had been converted to infrared by Life Pixel. Lens was a manual focus 16mm Zenitar f/2.8 with an exposure of 1/160 sec at f/16 and ISO 200. David Burren created a Photoshop Action (click to download) that was used with the above image 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.

Used copies of my book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography are available from Amazon starting at $23.99 as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available from Amazon with used copies selling for around two bucks, way less than your next coffee at Starbucks.