Update on Infrared Image Processing

First let me be clear I profess to be no IR expert rather an apprentice sharing his learning experience.  Let’s begin.

After watching Mark Hilliard’s (and others) multiple videos on infrared image processing, I took the suggestion to use Nikon’s native RAW image processor called Nikon Capture NX-D (free download) to get the best white balance.  Getting white balance correct is critical in IR, so take the time to do it right with the right tools.  Neither Lightroom or Photoshop will get you there.  Yes, one could use the DNG profile app for the Camera Calibration Profile yet I have found it’s not enough.

This workflow applies to those using Nikon Camera shooting in RAW format.  Similar approaches can be found for native RAW processors for Canon, Sony, …

Let me take you through step by step explaining as I go along.  My workflow may not be the most efficient yet in the end it has been effective for me.  I’m open to enhancements and efficiency changes so those who know, let me know.

  • Nikon RAW file (.nef) opened in Nikon Capture NX-D.  Note: No white balance adjustment at this point.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 6.11.36 PM

  • Here I’ve taken the WB dropper in a small area to make the first adjustment to the RAW file.  Wherever I sample, I haven’t seen much of a difference. I picked a neutral gray from my memory of the scene.  For this image I sampled the right-hand vertical wall.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 6.16.06 PM

  • Next I moved over to the right-hand side of the menu to adjust the Master Lightness (like Curves) to pull in the right-hand side thus bringing up the brightness.
  • Adjusted image in Capture NX-D:Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 6.18.59 PM
  • Now I convert (like exporting) the file as a .tiff to my Finder for importing into Lightroom which I’ll do Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) as it’s my comfort zone. Finished photo in Lightroom with Basic Edits ready for export to Photoshop.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 6.30.53 PM

  • In Photoshop, I make the A-B Channel Swap (A-Channel: A now 0% and B now 100% then B-Channel: A now 100% and B now 0%) using an Photoshop Action Panel for Infrared Channel Swap.  Plus the Hue/Saturation panel with Cyan selected to put back the blues in the sky.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 6.36.48 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 6.37.08 PM

  • Now exiting Photoshop back to Lightroom with this image.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 6.39.01 PM

  • In Lightroom, I do some local HSE adjustments and move the image over to NIK Viveza 2 then finish with NIK Dfine 2 for noise reduction.  Here’s the final image to give an idea of the possibilities.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 7.11.56 PM

The End of this IR explanation, Yet never the end to learning so let me know if you other have ways to process IR images.