Colour IR Photoshop ® action – free download

Damien Lovegrove’s Adobe Photoshop® action for colour infrared photography

I’ve done a bit of online research to understand the processes other photographers use for colour infrared photography. I’ve created an action that utilitses the best bits of each and I then mixed in some image degradation too for good measure. Colour IR images really benefit from having the digital correctness knocked out of them and that is what I’ve aimed to do in this action.

This photograph of a bridge on Tioman island in Malaysia is straight out of the Damien Lovegrove Photoshop action for colour infrared.

This photograph of a bridge on Tioman island in Malaysia is straight out of the Damien Lovegrove Photoshop action for colour infrared.

The action is designed for batching jpegs that have been shot with a custom white balance applied in camera. I’ve tried processing RAW files in the Photoshop® family of applications then using auto colour as the first step of my action but it does not produce as nice results.

Requirements:
Photoshop CS or later
Suitable camera files

Skill level:
Beginner

Action process:
The action starts by applying an auto levels command hence the importance of stage 5 in the instructions below. The auto levels will equalise your files. Infrared jpegs tend to be flat by nature and this process makes allowances for most exposure errors. The next section creates a duplicate layer and does some colour swapping using the channel mixer. Once this has been achieved the action will create two diffusion layers and a couple of grain layers. Each of the layers is then labeled for your convenience.

This waterfall picture was taken at 1/4 second and the effect created is identical to that of a conventional camera.

This waterfall picture was taken at 1/4 second and the effect created is identical to that of a conventional camera.

Instructions:

  • Download the action by clicking here
  • Place the action in a suitable folder in your home directory
  • Open Photoshop and load the action by selecting ‘load actions’ from the drop down menu in the top right of the actions palette. If you can’t see the actions palette select it first in the ‘Window’ menu.
  • Open any file in Photoshop and go image/adjustment/levels then click the options button on the right. In the resulting dialog box set both clip values to 0% and check the box marked ‘set as defaults’. Close the boxes by clicking OK and close the file without saving.
  • Use the batch command to run the action on a folder of camera files.
  • The files will each be saved as a layered tiff ready for later adjustment as required.

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About Damien

Damien Lovegrove learned his trade as a cameraman and lighting director during 14 years at the BBC, working on programmes such as the Clothes Show, Top of the Pops and Casualty. Fifteen years on, Damien has become one of the foremost trainers of photography and entrepreneurial business strategies in our industry. A published writer and regular columnist, Damien has travelled the globe sharing his knowledge and expertise. “Photography fascinates me” declares Damien. "Much of my photography is inspired by a burning enthusiasm within me” explains Damien. “Picking up a camera gives me such a rush that I’m instantly driven to create pictures.”

14 thoughts on “Colour IR Photoshop ® action – free download

  1. Daft question – sorry beforehand – is your infra-red process based upon

    a) Tweaking the camera to take “proper” infra-red photos

    b) Using a infrared filter

    c) Using infra-red film (though as we are talking about digital files here i assume not)

    Lovely set of photos also

  2. (a) Process takes a true IR digital file (as jpeg) from the camera and pulls it about to give you the pseudo colour results you see here.

    (b) No IR filter is used on the lens. A new filter is placed over the sensor during conversion at ACS that allows through primarily IR but also a lot of visible red hence the need to custom white balance.

    (c) Digital, no film required :)

  3. @richie:

    Its working fine here. If you just click the link it will auto install the action in Photoshop in a new action set called Damien Lovegrove Infrared. If you want to save the action to disk, right click and “save as” and specify a save location. You can then load it into the actions palette from the palette menu.

    Hope that helps

  4. Hi Damien,
    I tried the action but instead of everything going infrared everything went green,
    Any ideas as to where I went wrong.
    Thanks,
    Kev

  5. @kev

    Did you start off with an infra red file? Damien’s action takes a file from an infrared camera and gives it a look. You can get actions that will take a regular colour file and make it look sort-of infrared, but this isn’t one of those. Unless you have a camera converted for IR use this isn’t going to work.

  6. Hi

    I tried it with firefox and it works. The problem seems to be when you try and use safari to download it.

    Cheers

    Richie

  7. Hi Damien I am thinking about upgrading my bodies and converting my 5D to infrared. How difficult is this to do and roughly how much does it cost? Cheers John

  8. Hi John,

    You ought to get it done by a camera repair specialist with a clean room. They will be able to quote you to do the job. It involves collimation and resetting the focus for infrared use.

    Damien.

  9. I just got my old 10D converted by Spencer’s Camera in Utah – it was $300 for a standard IR conversion (leaves in some color – not pure b&w which is another $50).

  10. Hi John,

    Well it depends what your subject is. The colour effects are likely to be difficult to replicate however if you shift the hues on certain parts of the image you may be getting close. (Use the Hue Sat Luminance palete). In ir photography green foliage usually is rendered a near white and a bit fluffy but not like overexposed normal rendition. Blue skies are rendered darker and the look can be replicated easily by dropping the luminance of the blues right down. The snag with lightroom is you cant work on a just a selection. More success can be had with Photoshop but the joy of shooting ir is you get wow pictures straight from camera.

    I hope this helps,

    Damien.

  11. Hi Damien,
    Interested to read about your findings on Digital infrared.
    I have been experimenting too on the subject. I’ve used the 17-35 2.8L on non modified Canon EOS CMOS sensor cameras and fixed a gelatine filter (Lee 87) in the rear holder of the lens. The filter is visually opaque, IR transmission begins above 730 nanometers.
    The inconvenience of this are:
    1- You cannot see through the lens, (so I used the Hasselblad SWC viewfinder on the Canon hotshoe for helping composing the picture)
    2- The exposure time is rather long (if you shoot landscape at 5.6 or f8, coud take 60 seconds.
    3- You need to set the infinity slightly before the mark, as focusing can only be done manually.
    4-You only get pure B&W results. no colour at all.

    There is however a company in UK who specialise in converting DSLR cameras to infrared. Their website is http://www.advancedcameraservices.co.uk
    I spoke to David who explained they replace the low pass filter with plain glass and reset the focus so the you can focus normally through viewfinder, and you get shots with some colour.
    I was told the cost of conversion for a Canon 5D is £210+Vat+ postage. I have not converted my camera yet but would be interested to know if someone out there has done it this way.
    With best wishes for Christmas andnew year,
    Daniel

  12. Hi Daniel,

    You will notice a banner link to ACS on the right panel. All the IR pictures on this site bar 3 were taken on my ACS modified Canon DSLR. All the info you need is here :)

    I hope this helps. Happy Christmas,

    Damien.

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