Sunday, May 27, 2018

Infrared Post Processing in Lightroom

In a previous post I discussed the latest Lightroom release's new profile feature, and how it is a boon to those shooting in the infrared bands.

In this post I'll show a few examples, all processed in LR, and discuss how I approached my post processing.

The first thing to mention is the lens I was using, as the Kolari Vision data base ( indicated that my 18-55mm EOSM lens was a good performer at F/10 or wider: that is it should have a minimum IR hotspot.

From my shots today I clearly had a central hotspot, and a left to right colour shift: although I can't yet say that is down to the lens. However, as we will see in this post, these 'features' can be dealt with in LR.

Before discussing the post processing, it is worth mentioning my (EOSM) in-camera approach:
  • Obviously I had Magic Lantern running (I used the latest Lua experimental fix build)
  • I had my Focus Bar script on, and the IR correction set in the FB script's menu
  • I had ETTR on, with a min shutter set to 1/30s, as I was handholding
  • I had the aperture  set to F/7, but I may widen this next time, ie to reduce the hotspot
  • I used SET to trigger the ETTR solution
  • As I was shooting landscapes, with not much in the near field, I used the FB script to find a focus solution beyond the hyperfocal
After ingesting into LR I applied my IR profile, corrected for the lens and carried out an Auto Tone correction. These simple steps take the image from the horrible to the OK:

The final step, as I was not doing a round trip to Photoshop to correct pixels, was to use the LR sliders, the radial filter (to sort out any hotspots or off-colour 'patches') and LR's HSL sliders to 'tidy up' the look.

I like to get a blue sky (obtained by the using the channel swapping profile), and slightly desaturated look to the foliage. The final image looked like this:

Here are four more images from today's walk:

I hope this short post has convinced IR shooters that you don't need Photoshop to achieve a false colour look: Lightroom is your IR friend - as is Magic Lantern, of course!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

EOSM Script Set

As readers of my blog will know, my EOSMs are my go to travel cameras: one for the visible and one for the infrared.

I believe the EOSM, with Magic Lantern, represents the ultimate travel set up. Add in a cage, see previous posts, and a good travel tripod; and you have a really lightweight and small footprint to carry around.

I have just re-tuned my basic scripts to be more compatible with the EOSM, respecting its rather limited button setup.

The scripts are available on the right as 1m through to 4m, ie:
  • 1m is the EOSM Toggler script, enabled via a 4+ second long screen press
  • 2m is the Focus Bar
  • 3m is Hand Held Helper script
  • 4m is the ND helper script
I recommend accessing the scripts via the Toggler, as well as accessing ETTR, Dual-ISO or Auto-Bracketing. That is, once you have your basic ML settings fixed, eg your ETTR and Dual-ISO settings, you will hardly ever need to access to the ML menu.

The usual caveat from me being, I don’t do video ;-)

As a test shot, I just took a four image focus stack in our drive, with the aid of the Focus Bar. The exposure was F/8, ISO 100, 1/50s at EOSM 11mm. Processed only in Lightroom and Helicon Focus.

Here are the four input images. I focused at the nearest point of interest and used the Focus Bar to decide where the optimum next focus position would be.

And here is the final image after a round trip from Lightroom to Helicon Focus.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Tent Rocks in Infrared

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument sits on the Pajarito Plateau in north-central New Mexico, and ranges from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level.

The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash, and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a pyroclastic flow.

Precariously perched on many of the tapering hoodoos are boulder caps that protect the softer pumice and tuff below. Some tents have lost their hard, resistant caprocks, and are disintegrating. While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet up to 90 feet.

Tent rocks is a very surreal landscape that fits well with infrared photography, especially false colour IR processing.

The following handheld images were taken with my IR converted EOSM. As usual I used Magic Lantern to help him get the best exposure, via the Auto ETTR, and my focus bar script, with IR corrected diffraction, to nail the infinity focus.

This first image was colour processed in LR via the LUT-based profile that I mentioned in the last post.

The next five images were processed in B&W.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Lightroom just got better…for IR photography

If you are part of the Adobe CC universe you will be aware that Lightroom just got an uplift. For those that shoot in the IR bands, this version is a must; especially if you do most of your IR processing in Lightroom.

As we know, there are two basic ways to post process IR images: in ‘false colours’ or in black & white.

The advantage of B&W being that you can make an image look ‘realistic’, albeit with some unusual tonal separations between objects; as an object doesn’t necessarily reflect visible and IR sunlight bands in the same way.

The complication with colour IR processing is that if you wish to ensure one of the colours looks about right, then you will struggle with Lightroom. For instance, many try and ensure skies look about right, ie blue. To do this requires a round trip from LR to Photoshop, to carry out a red-blue channel swap.

No big deal, but more effort that ‘just’ processing in LR alone.

With the latest LR release, version 7.3, we are able to make use of profiles, and create our own.

The advantage of a profile is that it allows you to create a base correction of the RAW (sic) image, without (sic) changing the settings sliders as you would with a normal LR preset. That is, all sliders will remain in their base (zero) setting.

Rather than duplicate what others have done, I’ll simply point you to an excellent post by Cemal Ekin, at

If you follow Cemal’s steps (thank’s Cemal), you will be able to create an IR profile for Lightroom that includes a channel swap via a LUT: which means you can process 100% in Lightroom, including the red-blue channel swap.

As an example, take this test I just carried out for this post. I took four handheld images, using my IR converted EOSM at 11mm, ISO 100, F/6.3 and 1/125s.

The images, as usual with IR, look horrible; however, with one button push on my new profile the transformation is impressive. Factor in the newish Auto toning and with hardly any effort you can get pretty close to your final image in a few button clicks.

As a further illustration of the power of Lightroom, I took all four converted images into the LR Pano Merge tool and used the boundary warp function to arrive at this IR pano: in no time at all.

If you are an IR photographer and wish carry out false colour processing 100% in Lightroom, then make sure you look at Cemal’s post and enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Post Processing Simulated LE Brackets

In the last post I covered the basic approach to simulating a Long Exposure (LE) image using Photoshop. Although the post was based on a Magic Lantern Lua script to auto generate the images in camera, any camera is capable of generating the required input images, eg using an intervalometer or simply pressing the shutter multiple times.

Once you have ingested the image brackets into your computer, eg I use Lightroom; the first thing to do is process one of the images, ie from the RAW state, and sync the rest of the bracket set to this master.

The next step requires the brackets to be sent over to Photoshop as layers in a single document.

As mentioned in the last post, you could now use a Smart Object statistics approach, but this is heavy on time and memory. So I prefer to use a opacity merge approach, ie each layer’s opacity is adjusted according to its position. Layer 1, top or bottom, is 100%, layer 2 is 50% and, in general, layer n’s opacity needs to be set to 100/(n).

Although you could do the opacity changes by hand, I have created a Javascript based on an original script written by Neil Farquharson at You can download my version from here:

The script needs to be placed in the Photoshop scripts folder.

This script, which you can run via File and Scripts in Photoshop, first prompts if you wish to parse the opacities into blocks. If you leave the number at the default 100, the opacities will be set as a single block, ie with 25 images the 25th layer’s opacity will be set to 1/25. This assumes you haven’t taken more than 100 images!

If you input, say, 5, the opacities will be set in blocks of 5, eg [100% x {1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5}]….repeated across the number of layers you have.

If you use the block approach, you will need to merge each block manually and then rerun the script to merge the merged-blocks.

According to what approach you use, and the number of layers in a block, you will get a subtly different look. In other words you have choices.

In the following example there were 15 input images, each taken at an exposure of 0.6s: giving a simulated LE exposure of 9 seconds.

 As usual I welcome any feedback.