Approach Digital Photography photography Workflow

Missing the Obvious Again


Infrared GX1 image of Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island, Northumberland.
Infrared GX1 image of Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island, Northumberland.

I have just answered a question posted on yesterdays blog and it made me realise I am missing the obvious again. This time it was that most people reading my blog have probably never seen a direct conversion from a RAW infrared file. Neither will you probably know what all this problem is with white balance and why I was so concerned. Here then are some examples that hopefully will put this right. All are created from the same RAW file used for the image at the top of the page and I have done no other adjustments to the files beyond what I explain below.

This first example is what you get in Lightroom when you set the camera white balance to AWB and all the other sliders are at 0.

Rely on your cameras auto white balance and Lightroom and this is what you get
Rely on your cameras auto white balance and Lightroom and this is what you get

The next example shows what you get in Lightroom when you set the camera white balance correctly for infrared light. Better but still not correct.

Set the camer white balance correctly for infrared and Lightroom makes a better job but still not right
Set the camer white balance correctly for infrared and Lightroom makes a better job but still not right

Here is the same RAW file in SilkyPix using the correct Infrared white balance. Notice the difference in colour from the Lightroom image. In this image there is much more information in all three colour channels and it makes for a better conversion to black and white.

The correct white balance converted in SilkyPix is much better and almost right
The correct white balance converted in SilkyPix is much better and almost right

The next example shows what happens in SilkyPix when you set the white balance using the white balance picker on the grass near to the castle. This is how the file should look before converting to black and white. This gives a nice spread of information in all the channels and makes for a high quality conversion. Even though a lot of the information in the B and G channels is probably interpolated by the RAW converter, it still appears to be a better conversion and that’s what I am interested in.

Use the white balance tool in SilkyPix to target the grass and you get the correct result
Use the white balance tool in SilkyPix to target the grass and you get the correct result

In this final example, I have done a channel swap between the Red and Blue channels to create a false colour. Not to everyone’s taste but it can be quite effective.

False colour created by a Red, Blue Channel swap. Interesting.
False colour created by a Red, Blue Channel swap. Interesting.

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