Here’s a few steps to help improve your work
Portraits in Infrared can produce some stunning results but often need adjusting in post production.
Often a few short steps can make a big difference.
Today I’m going to show a series of quick steps to help improve your finished product.
The image I am working with was shot inside with a white background and a set of hot lights.
The camera was a Super Color converted Canon SL1, The lens a Canon 40mm f2.8 STM.
A White Balance was set using the white background as a reference image.
The fstop 8.0, the shutter speed was 1/60, the ISO 100.
This is the RAW image file opened in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional.
It needs some help.
The first thing I did was a second White Balance using the the background as a reference,
then I adjusted the Brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows, color saturation, and sharpening.
Then I converted the image and opened it in Photoshop.
It’s a little bit better, but needs more.
So, Since I want to process this quickly, I’m going to see what Photoshop can do with Auto Tones.
I clicked Image, Auto Tone.
And I got this.
My lighting looks better, but Red color tones are distracting.
Let’s remove that Red tone. I’ll click Image, Adjustments, Hue/Saturation.
In Hue/Saturation, I’ll select RED from the drop box and then
Slide the Lightness bar all the way to the right.
With some images you may find other color tones that do not add to the image quality. Often there can be Magenta, or even Green tones. You can desaturate them this way. First try adjusting the lightness. If that does not look right to you, consider adjusting the Saturation level slider.
This also how to make the foliage white in an Infrared landscape image where you have color in your trees or grass.
Now, this is starting to look better.
But, I want the eyes to pop more, really draw attention.
So, I am going to lighten just the eyes.
To do that I will want to use a layer mask.
What I am going to do is create a duplicate copy of this image, adjust the eyes the way I want, and then using a layer mask, paint in what I want from that adjusted layer. It is not difficult once you learn the steps. To create a new layer, click Layer, then Duplicate layer.
When the Duplicate Layer box comes up, rename the Layer Eye Adjustments
You will now see the Eye Adjustment layer in you list of layers.
Now I am going to adjust this layer, with my attention just on the eyes.
I’ll open Image, Adjustments, Brightness/Contrast
And adjust the sliders until I like the way the eyes look.
You can also adjust the color tone of the eyes by adjusting the Hue/Saturation levels.
I am not concerned with the rest of the image because I’m only going to use the eyes from this layer.
Now, I need a Layer Mask.
For a Layer Mask, click Layer, Layer Mask, Hide All
Now only what we want from the Eye Adjustment layer will show when we paint it into original image.
Next select the Brush tool.
Then select brush size and hardness.
for something like this I would use a small brush with a soft edge.
Then carefully paint in the eyes. If you make a mistake, and I often do, just grab the eraser tool and remove what you don’t want.
If the Eye Adjustment Layer Mask seems too intense, simply lessen it by lowering the the Opacity level.
Here is the image, side by side. The right image is with the Layer Mask
It is at this point you will want to save the layered versions of this image as a Photoshop psd file. Then click Layer, Merge Visible.
Now let’s adjust the colors in this image.
Click Image, Adjustments, Selective Color.
Then I am going to adjust the color tones with the color.
I have Blue and Cyan in this image, and I think I’ll adjust both a little.
Now let’s see, side by side, what we started and ended with.
So, what do you think? Once you learn the steps the process does not take very long.
Mark G says
I love that a Google search brought me to one of your tutorials. Learned a few things here that may help my portrait work – thank you!
Don hatfield says
What results can be achieved with an IR-only (not super color, etc) converted camera?
Dan Wampler says
Hi Don, If you are asking about monochrome Infrared, you can also get similar effects minus the color. Super Color images are Infrared though, just for the record.
Darryl Murphy says
Awesome! I’ve never been happy with IR portraiture…. This explains why. Thank you.
Fantastic work flow !!! Very informative !!! you rock Dan !!!
Tim ONeill says
Excellent work and examples as usual Dan. More please.
Dan, thanks for the tutorial. Some of the things I never figured out how to do in PS, but were very helpful, esp the idea of the ‘second’ white balance as well as some of the other adjustments.
Tony Morrison says
Very helpful, I have a camera that has been converted to 720 nm, really like what you can do with the super color.
Jeff Geiger says
Thanks for the information. Very helpful.