Everyday I conduct training sessions with photographers who have recently had a camera converted and are expanding their art to include Infrared photography. Through our online sessions, photographers learn how the important “little details” can make a HUGE difference in the finished image. I show them things like how to set a Custom White Balance and how using a RAW Editor can make such a difference, along with many other tips and techniques.
Just this week I had a session with a talented photographer by the name of Jerrold Meyer, who was feeling the frustration photographers new to Infrared sometimes have with White Balance.
Jerrolds images were coming out very red, a common issue with Infrared images. Let’s take this Super Color Infrared Image for example:
Often, Infrared photographers see an image like this and think their only choice is to make the image monochrome, because if you were to color channel swap this image you would simply go from red to blue:
However, that is not often the case if your exposure is correct and you use the RAW Editor native to your camera. What I mean by that is your in-camera Custom White Balance is set to help you capture your best exposure.
Without a good White Balance, you cannot tell if your exposure is correct because everything is just Red. Secondly, camera manufacturers write a proprietary format for their RAW files. To access all the information in that RAW file, you need to use their RAW editor. One of the great things about RAW editors is they give you the opportunity to set a new Custom White Balance. Each RAW editor is setup to function differently, but most all have an eye dropper or similar tool to use to set the White Balance, or Grey Point.
Once you learn to use the eyedropper to set a new White Balance in post production on your image you may be surprised by what you have to work with after all.
In the case of Jerrold’s image, he shot well enough that his exposure was solid. Using the Raw Editor for his file I selected the grassy area in the foreground to the left of his image.
And this is what happened:
By selecting a new Custom White Balance, this image went from all Red to having the four color tones a Super Color Infrared image should have: Red, Yellow, Blue, & Cyan. From here, it is just a matter of working the image to create some depth and the look you want.
The next part of post production training is to learn how to visualize the image as a 3D object and then take it apart, work the parts and put it back together. By doing this you can give your image more depth and character. Here is Jerrold’s image as a false color IR with the channels swapped.
Remember what we started from? This was made up of 4 adjustment layers, and put together using some layer masks. Once you learn the steps, the technique can be used for any image, Infrared, Color, or Black & White. Trust me, it sounds harder than it really is, once you know how you’ll be surprised by the simplicity.
Now let’s take the image a step further and give it the look of old color Infrared:
How about we mimic the look of the image as if it was converted with the Standard Infrared Filter:
Or the Deep Black & White Infrared? Filter Conversion:
Pretty much anything is possible with the right image and that is important to note. Jerrold composed and exposed a great Infrared image and that is why I was able to make something more with it.
With Infrared photography, Art is in the image capture. Art is what You make it.
Everything after you push the button is a post production trick or technique, and I can teach you those tricks and techniques.
Would you like to learn how to get MORE out of your Infrared Images?
Consider taking one of our Online Training Sessions.
We have one and two hour sessions, perfect for any schedule and they can be booked one at a time or as many as you like, spread to fit your schedule. We can even include a video recording, in full 1080p HD of your training session, a great way to revisit and review all that was covered anytime you like.
Whichever you prefer, we can use your own images or ours as the working examples for the training session and go from a fresh RAW file to a fully finished image and cover every step along the way. Each session is unique and tailored to you personally, so you are in control of what is covered, with what images and at what pace. THAT is the beauty of one on one online training!
You work hard to create your images – why not polish them off with great Post Production Skills and
turn them into True Works of Art!
– A huge thank you to Jerrold Meyer for loaning us his images for this piece. You can view more of Jerrold’s work on his smugmug page.