Processing Infrared Shots in Adobe Camera RAW

In previous articles I have mentioned that it has not been possible to process Infrared shots in directly in Photoshop RAW, due to White Balance issues. Now it seems, that is not the case.

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In a previous article I described how Adode Camera RAW (Photoshop’s RAW processing front end) was unable to process Infrared images directly, due to its inability to cope with the extremes of white balance used in IR photography. The images appear heavily in the red (as below), destroying any custom white balance techniques you may have used during shooting.

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There is a work around that allows you to work on IR RAW files in PS directly. You only need to perform the steps below once to create a profile that you can use to process any IR image in the future. You will need to download an app from Adobe Labs called DNG Profile editor, which can be downloaded from here. Note, you will need an Adobe Labs login to download, get one for free.

The DNG Profile Editor does just that and so before we work with it we need to create a DNG. Being a Canon user, my 300D creates .CRW files and my 40D creates .CR2 files. To create a .DNG file, I opened one of my RAW (CRW) files in Photoshop and then immediately clicked ‘Save Image’ at the bottom left corner of the RAW dialog. Then save this as a DNG.

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Next, open up the DNG Profile Editor and choose ‘Open DNG Image’ from the File menu and choose your DNG created above.

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The image will open, looking similar to how it did in ACR, very red. Next flip to the Color Matrices tab on the DNG Profile Editor and use the Temperature and Tint sliders in the White Balance Calibration section to get close to the effect of shooting with the custom white balance. The image should begin to look more like how it did on the back of the camera (provided you did shoot with custom white balance, that is). Don’t worry about over tweaking – my sliders were at -100 for both!

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Next choose Export from the file menu, the name will vary depending on your camera.. and the dialog should open up in the right location for Photoshop to access it..

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Rename the file as you wish… Then open Photoshop and find an IR RAW file you wish to process and flip to the ‘Camera Calibration’ tab over on the RAW toolbar. The drop down under Camera Profile should contain a setup based on the file you just exported from the DNG Editor. Choose this and hey presto!

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Now you can still fine tune the white balance, as well as the having the benefit of the rest of the RAW processing tools, all within PS itself, without using another app. Cool!

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Below is an image processed with this technique. And you’ll find more in my IR set on Flickr.

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3 thoughts on “Processing Infrared Shots in Adobe Camera RAW

  1. This is awesome! I’ve been trying hard to achieve IR shots but since my camera is not IR sensitive I always get red photos no matter what even at custom WB preset – at long exposure too. I read about using Adobe Camera RAW to process IR photos but as I’ve tried it I kinda don’t get the expected results which is to clean the image from red-ish colors, I can only lower the amount but not completely remove it. After reading this post I was able to remove all the red stuff and end up with falsy colors. Off to post-process! Thanks for this wonderful article :)

    1. you should look up photoextremist on youtube, he does some great stuff with photography and has a great piece on infra red processing using channel swapping with a normal photo and an infra red photo of the same scene…..very impressive results too.

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