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Adding an infrared effect

From: Photoshop Creative Effects Workshop

Video: Adding an infrared effect

Infrared is a variation on a black and white interpretation of an image. A true infrared image is one that uses a special filter and film or a specially modified camera to record infrared wavelengths of energy rather than invisible light. That generally translate into foliage that is bright white, and a sky that is nearly black. In many cases, it's possible to simulate an infra-red capture, with a variation on a black and white conversion, as you'll see in this lesson. The first step, is to add a black and white adjustment layer. So I'll click the create new Adjustment Layer button, the half black, half white circle icon, at the bottom of the layers panel and choose black and white from the pop-up menu. You might notice there is a preset for inferred at the top of the adjustments panel.

Adding an infrared effect

Infrared is a variation on a black and white interpretation of an image. A true infrared image is one that uses a special filter and film or a specially modified camera to record infrared wavelengths of energy rather than invisible light. That generally translate into foliage that is bright white, and a sky that is nearly black. In many cases, it's possible to simulate an infra-red capture, with a variation on a black and white conversion, as you'll see in this lesson. The first step, is to add a black and white adjustment layer. So I'll click the create new Adjustment Layer button, the half black, half white circle icon, at the bottom of the layers panel and choose black and white from the pop-up menu. You might notice there is a preset for inferred at the top of the adjustments panel.

Choosing this option you'll get a result that may resemble inferred. In this case, not exactly the best result. So I'm going to reset this to the default option and we'll take a look at how we can exercise a bit more control over the process. Because foliage reflects more infrared energy than other objects, the greens and yellows in an image that contains foliage will tend to be very, very bright. Things that do not reflect much infrared radiation will tend to be very dark. So the first thing we might want to do is increase the value for greens in the image.

If I take this too far of course I'll blow out the green detail, but actually foliage tends to create a significant amount of yellow. So you'll also want to increase the value for yellows. You'll want to balance the increase in both of these sliders to produce the best effect. It's OK if we blow out a little bit of detail in the green foliage but we don't want to take it too far. We just want to create an effect that mimics as closely as possible what we might achieve with an infrared film capture.

We can also adjust the other sliders, for example I'll take reds down a little bit in order to darken those values and I can take a look at the cyans to see if there's anything there. It looks like there are some areas that are being affected. So I'll go ahead and darken them down to increase contrast. I'll also reduce the blues. Now if this image contained a sky I would most certainly want to darken the cyans and blues to further add that dramatic infrared effect. I'll take a look at magentas here as well and it looks like nothing in the image is really being affected there so I'll leave that at about a mid point value and now I think I have a reasonably good starting point for my infrared interpretaion of the image. Of course I can take things a bit further.

I could certainly apply additional adjustments, for example adding contrast with a cruves adjustment or, applying a variety of other affects to the image. For example, since infrared capture is traditionally a film affect, you might want to add film grain to the image. There happens to be a filter for film grain, but I prefer a slightly different approach. So I'll the Alt key on Windows or the option keys on Macintosh while clicking on the create new layer button, the blank-sheet of paper icon at the bottom of the layer's panel and that will cause the new layer dialog to appear, I'll type a new name for this layer, in this case I will just call it film grains since I'm adding a film grain effect and I will choose the hard, light, blend note which is a contrast blend note that is rather strong.

I'll also turn on the check box to fill this layer with the hard light neutral color, which happens to be 50 percent gray. I'll click OK to accept those settings for my new layer, and then I will choose Filter > Noise > Add Noise, from the menu. I want the noise to be monochromatic, so I'll turn on the monochromatic check box, and I also want a more random effect, so I'll turn on Gaussian. And then I'll simply increase the amount setting to produce the grain effect I'd like. Now initially, this is going to be far too strong, but we'll mitigate the effect in just a moment. That looks pretty good, I'll click OK, and then to tone down the film grain effect, I'll reduce the opacity for this layer.

We'll tone it down quite a bit In this case, I just want a little bit of texture in the image, and that looks to be pretty good, so that gives us a little bit more realistic effect for our infrared interpretation of the image. To me, the key element of an infrared interpretation is thinking about what an infrared capture would have looked like, and then determining what adjustments need to be applied to create that appearance. A simple variation on a black and white adjustment, makes this effect possible. Adjusting the sliders based on how real world objects are rendered with an infrared capture.

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Photoshop Creative Effects Workshop

31 video lessons · 719 viewers

Tim Grey
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