Infrared Photography Tutorial – 2

We continue to convert your photo into very unusual, infrared-like image with extreme colors with second part of our infrared photography tutorial.

You will learn very effective sky extraction technique, use channels and curves to produce infrared-like grayscale image, use mask to isolate part of the image and create several layers with blending mode set to ‘color’ to control parts of the image independently.

‘Setting up’ the image takes several minutes. Once you created all necessary layers it becomes very easy to alter the colors to achieve quite unusual or even ‘crazy’ color effects. 

All keyboard shortcuts are for PC. I don’t have a Mac, but as far as I know the main difference is use of the COMMAND key and OPTION key on a Mac instead of the CTRL key and the ALT key on a PC.

Click to see ‘before’ and ‘after’
curves adjustment.
Use curves to adjust ‘Ground’ level brightness and contrast for more ‘infrared’ effect. Infrared images usually have almost white or very light gray leaves. It is very hard to simulate this effect accurately but we may try using curves for ‘quick and dirty’ fake-infrared photo effect.

Select ‘Ground’ layer and use Image – Adjustment – Curves or press CTRL-M.

‘Play’ with curves to adjust brightness and contrast, try not to lose details and make leaves and grass lighter.

New ‘Trees’ layer with ‘Color’ blending mode.
Prepare first coloring layer. Create new layer. Place it on the top of the layer stack by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-] and rename it to ‘Trees’.

Set blending mode to Color.

Load selection from layer mask.
Load ‘Sky’ selection from mask and invert it. We will paint over the trees but we don’t want to touch the sky. So right-click on the mask thumbnail of the ‘Sky’ layer and choose ‘Add layer mask to selection’. Entire sky will be selected.

Press CTRL-SHIFT-I to invert the selection so everything except the sky becomes selected. Now we may paint over the trees and the sky color will remain unchanged.

Click to see
‘before’ and ‘after’ painting.
Crazy color dreams begin!Select ‘Trees’ layer and decrease its opacity to 10-30%.

Then take your favorite brush and paint over the trees with your favorite (crazy?) color.

Do not add color to the grass – separate layer should be used for it!

Click to see
the image so far.
Create second coloring layer.Create one more layer. Place it on the top of the layer stack by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-] and rename it to ‘Grass’. Set ‘Grass’ blending mode to Color and decrease layer opacity to 10-30%.

Then take your favorite brush and paint over the grass.

Two coloring layers.
Why use multiple coloring layers?The answer is very simple – if you don’t like the color, you may adjust it using Hue/Saturation for each layer independently.

We have only two coloring layers for our image – ‘Trees’ and ‘Grass’. You may use 3 or 5 or even more – it depends only on your imagination and on the desired level of control over the image.

Adjust sky saturation.

The sky is a bit over-saturated for our image style. Make ‘Sky’ layer active. Select Image – Adjustments – Hue/Saturation or press CTRL-U. Decrease saturation of the sky to your taste.

‘Dreamy Landscape’
technique applied.
Use ‘Dreamy landscape’ technique to soften the image.Select top layer. Press CTRL-A to select all. Press CTRL-SHIFT-C to Copy Merged layers (this will copy contents of all visible layers to clipboard) and then press CTRL-V twice to paste. You will get a new layer on the top of the layer stack. Rename it to ‘Dreamy 1’.

Press CTRL-J to duplicate ‘Dreamy 1’ layer. Rename new layer to ‘Dreamy 2’.

Use these two layers to apply Dreamy landscape technique to the image.

Set ‘Dreamy 2’ layer opacity to 30-40%.

Click to see
the final image.
The result.Click on the image to see the result.

Move coloring layers to the top
and have fun!
Further adjustments. If you want to experiment with colors more, move ‘Grass’ and ‘Trees’ layers on the top of the layer stack by selecting layer and then pressing CTRL-SHIFT-].

Use Hue/Saturation (CTRL-U) to adjust colors. Experiment with layer opacity. Have fun with making infrared photography!

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