Before and After Forum; Infrared

The Before and After forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.

On Sunday while I was looking for an image to transform into a mosaic and I came across an old image taken in Cornwall, just before I moved to Poland. This image had been edited with a faux infrared toning. I have never experimented with infrared photography. With digital photography you can do two things to shoot infrared; one is to use a filter on your lens and the other is to convert a camera (perhaps an old one) to take infrared pictures. The colours from photographing with digital infrared will not quite be the same as using colour infrared film.


Of course there is always Photoshop where you can simulate the tones and the feel of infrared photos but I would never call the images true infrared.
What I am looking for with my shot is to have a pinkish hue instead of greens with some softening to a much lighter shade. I would hope that the sky goes darker but I don’t think this will happen, a surreal tone of blue will suffice. I won’t try to replicate the infrared tone completely, more try to emphasis the feeling of an infrared image.


  • I took three exposures +/- 2 and used the same work flow I did a few weeks ago when I created a stylized black and white image. I aligned the three exposures and blended them together using apply image. I then balanced the image using levels and curves.
  • I placed these layers into a smart object and applied a camera raw filter; to remove some chromatic aberration, and reduce noise and apply capture sharpening as well as reduce noise. I then used the lens correction filter to fix distortions of the lens. I duplicated this layer and inverted it (ctrl + I) and set the blending mode to colour. You could use curves here by using Photoshop’s preset.print3
  • I need to swap the red and blue channels. I do this with a channel mixer adjustment layer; selecting the red channel I lower red to 0 and push blue to 100 and then switch to the blue channel and do the same but lower the blue to 0 and the red to 100. I do not touch the green channel.
  • At this point the reds were far too strong. Using a hue and saturation adjustment layer, I used the eye dropper to select only the red/pink tones and lowered the saturation.
  • Infrared images usually have a cold feel to them and my image was feeling a little warm. I added a photo filter adjustment layer, selecting one of the cooling filters and set it to 25%.
  • This step was just to stylize the image a bit, I used the curves to colour tone the overall image.
  • I felt the image needed a little bit of contrast, I added a curves adjustment layer using the linear contrast preset.
  • The foreground of the image was too bright; I added a gradient running from black to 0% transparency. I set the blending to overlay and then repositioned the layer.


I think that for this image this workflow works well. If I was to use a different image, I would possibly need to change just the saturation applied in step four to not just being an adjustment to the red tones, but also the brightness of some other colours.

Do you think this looks like an infrared image or have I missed the mark; is this something that you want to try? Let me know in the comment box below or any questions you may have. Remember to check out Stacy’s blog post to see the others who have contributed this week.

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12 thoughts on “Before and After Forum; Infrared

  1. Wow, Ben, just wow! I know nothing about infrared photography, but I was enthralled reading about your process to achieve the final effect. You really do have such fun with Photoshop. Love your creativity, and love that you bring it to ABFriday. Thanks so much!

    • Photoshop is my play ground, I love just messing around and seeing what I can do. On my bookshelf I have a Photoshop recipe notebook where I note down thi gs that have worked with images next to them. Sometimes I mix a few together and then see what happens. I really enjoy the AB forum, a place where I can share what I do and know.

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