My Infrared Photography Secret

Last week I shared an image I shot coming off Holme Fell in the Lake District at the end of a long day. This week I want to share a second image which I also shot on Holme Fell.

View from Holme Fell. Fuji XT2 with 18-135 lens.

I shot this using a Fuji XT2 camera that’s been converted to infrared using a 665nm filter. The lens is a Fuji 18-135 at 36mm. It’s a handheld exposure of 1/75” at f/13.0 and ISO160. The RAW file was process in Capture One and then converted to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro.

I’m sure you will agree that this doesn’t look like a traditional infrared photo with glowing white trees and grass, and that’s deliberate. Whilst I could have processed it to produce that effect, I wanted something that looked more like a traditional black and white photo. And this is where I want to share my infrared process secret.

After applying a white balance to the image and then developing the RAW file, I convert it to black and white using a Blue Filter. You can do this in Nik Silver Efex Pro in the Film Type section. If you’re using Lightroom, check the Camera Colour Profiles and you should find an Adobe Blue Filter profile to do the same. What the blue filter produces with an infrared image is something that’s more like a traditional black and white shot and the tones are excellent.

Of course, this doesn’t always work, nothing is ever that easy. You may also need to adjust the colour response sliders to achieve the best results. But if you shoot infrared and have never tried it (most people ignore the blue filter) be sure to give it a go.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

9 thoughts on “My Infrared Photography Secret

  1. Brilliant, Robin. Thanks for the tip (even though I don’t have an IR conversion camera!). If I may say so, I think this is one of your finest images ever. Gorgeous!

  2. Hi Robin
    Astounding, and maybe the solution I am constantly looking for – B&W not obviously infrared, just like B&W of film times with red filter, but “better” or “more special, but not too much”… I wonder, how the landscape looked in colour, without tweaking, in “reality” so to speak.
    Have to try it! Many thanks!

    1. Just remember this doesn’t always work. If the result isn’t quite to your taste, try tweaking the white balance of the RAW file before converting so that it has a little more red/orange and the grass is less blue. As for the colour image, it was pretty flat and lifeless before the conversion.

  3. Just a beautifully toned image however it was made. It made me think about B&W conversion from a normal Raw file and not trying to emulate the full IR look. Visualising tones before a conversion and then emphasising colours with HSL could give a head start to more tonal control in achieving this partial IR look. When it comes to greens, yellow is so important.

    1. Thanks. I’m pleased you liked it. I’ve always enjoyed using the HSL adjustments before B&W conversion but didn’t have much success with IR images because of the lack of colour. Doing a channel swap can return some of that but I’ve found the Blue filter simulation just as effective.

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