Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Basic infrared conversion, part of Photoshop CS5: Creative Effects.
Over the last few years there has been an explosion of interest in how we can create digital infrared photographs and here with this image, we're going to explore how we can use Blending modes and Adjustment layers and Filters together, in order to come up with a really creative digital infrared photograph. Let's start off by creating our adjustment layer. One of the best adjustment layers to use in order to accomplish this is called Channel Mixer. So here let's click on our Adjustment layer icon and then choose Channel Mixer.
Now what's fascinating about Channel Mixer is that this allows us to combine the different values of our different channels together. Now in this case, what we want to do though is we just want to use the brightness values of these different channels. So in this case, we're going to click on Monochrome. Now once we've done that, what I want to do is go ahead and reduce the Reds to zero, the Blues to zero and the Greens to 100. Now already the image is starting to come to life and here we have these really nice bright vivid Greens. You can see how everything that was Green is almost glowing.
Well, one of the things it's fun to do is to experiment with different ways to mix these channels together. An easy way to do that is to target your Channel Mixer layer and then press Cmd or Ctrl+J and then turn off the visibility of the underlying layer. Let's say that we think it might be interesting to reduce the Blues a little bit. Now as we do that you'll notice that it's showing us our Total here. Whenever you're working with the Channel Mixer, you want the Total to be close to 100. So in this case, I need to add more in another place.
I'll go ahead and crank up my Greens. Now, as I do that, we can really start to see those Greens become vibrant. I could also work with these Reds perhaps, adding a little bit of Red in there and again I just want to get close to 100% there. Well in this case, this is completely different. What I thought previously was a really glow type of effect, now looks muted and dim and when I compare these two and look at this one all of a sudden, wow, that's just coming to life in a whole new way. All right, well, now that I've dialed in this particular aesthetic, we can have some fun by adding a bit of glow to the photograph.
So in order to add the glow, what we need to do is to merge the underlying layers to the topmost layer. The easiest way to do that is by way of a shortcut. Here it is, on a Mac, press Shift+ Option+Cmd+E, on Windows, press Shift+Alt+Ctrl+E. Let's name this layer blur- softlight and what we're going to do here is apply a blur to this layer. Go to Filter, here we're going to choose Blur and then Gaussian Blur and the amount of Blur that we want to apply here is going to be something that allows us to still recognize the photograph.
So, in this case I'm just going to bring this up till I still can recognize the image. I don't want to go to here of course, I want to still have those details in. All right, well, next click OK. Next step's going to be to change this layer Blending mode to Soft Light and this is where this starts to look really interesting, take a look, here we have that before and now after. Now in this case we have this really nice Black and White digital infrared photograph. Well, what about color? Well, if we want to add some color to this image, there's an interesting technique that we can use and here it is, we can go ahead and click in our Background layer which has color in it and then we'll press Cmd or Ctrl+J to duplicate that and let's name this layer color, just to keep track of that one.
Next, we'll bring this up to the top of our layer stack which essentially hides all of the effects underneath it. Now, with this layer, we want to apply a little bit of blur to it. So once again we'll go to Filter, we'll choose Blur and the same Blur we used before, which was Gaussian Blur and with this Gaussian Blur, I'm going to apply a little bit less here, because I don't want to go too far with the Blur, I've already applied some. So again I'll just add a little bit more. Next step, we're to use that same Blending mode as before.
This time, we'll go down and select it here. It's Soft Light. All right, now we're talking, right now we have some intriguing colors coming into this photograph. Take a look, here we have that before and then after. Now we can of course click through these layers and we can lower their Opacity or we can increase their Opacity. If we want a little bit less of that Blur that we added because we now have this top blur, we can do that, and in this case we have this interesting color, but what if we're going for one of those infrared looks where things that are Green look Red, where it's just completely changing the overall color spectrum.
In order to create that type of effect, it's actually really easy. All that we need to do is to click on Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and then here, we can click and drag to shift the hue and as I drag that over here you can see we can come up with these really surreal or intriguing type of color effects. Now, how far you go with color, is of course completely up to you, but just to illustrate there are so many different options and so many different ways that you can process your photographs. Well, at this juncture, let's evaluate how we've done.
We'll go ahead and go back to the Background layer, we'll hold down Option or Alt and click on that eye icon, here's before and now here's after. And in closing, we were able to accomplish this digital infrared creative effect without a lot of effort. All that we need to do was first experiment a little bit with our Channel Mixer. That gave us a good Black and White conversion. Next, we merged the top and once we did that, we added a little bit of Blur and we applied a Blend mode of Soft Light and then, because we were interested in adding some color, the Background layer we duplicated it and brought it up top, again blurring that out and changing the Blending mode to Soft Light and then finally to have a little bit of color control, we created a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and we shifted the hue in order to create an even more distinct and powerful color effect.
- Adding light and drama
- Enhancing color and tone
- Applying graffiti and reflections to surfaces
- Using lens blur and focus to enhance portraits
- Masking multiple images and adding elements
- Combining images with multiple depths of field
- Using layers masks and blending with HDR toning
- Applying border and edge effects
- Adding a sense of motion
- Understanding vanishing point perspective
- Using Photoshop plug-ins