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!

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