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Processing Infrared Photos in Camera Raw and Photoshop

Levels layer infrared

In my previous article, I described how to shoot infrared photos. This guide will walk you through processing infrared photos using Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CC.

These instructions and screenshots were compiled on a MacOS X Yosemite system, though should work equally well for other platforms.

Here is the processed final image of the infrared shot I shared in the last article:

Infrared photo of huts in Sharda, Neelam Valley

1. Creating an Infrared Camera Profile

To start processing infrared photos, firstly you need to create a new camera profile. This will allow you to cool down the image more than usual and set the correct white balance. To do this, you will need to save your RAW file in the DNG (Digital Negative) format. Then edit the DNG file in the DNG Profile Editor. Here is a step-by-step guide:

1. Download and install Adobe DNG Profile Editor. The Mac version is available here and the Windows version here.

2. Open the RAW image in Adobe Camera Raw and click “Save Image…” in the bottom left corner
Adobe Camera Raw infrared DNG

3. In the “Save Options” dialog box, choose the destination folder and select “DNG” as the file extension. Then click “Save”:
Camera Raw save DNG

4. Open the DNG Profile Editor. Then go to “File” -> “Open DNG Image” and select the DNG file you just saved:
DNG Profile Editor

5. Once the image is loaded, click on the “Color Matrices” tab:
DNG Profile Editor infrared edit

6. Under “White Balance Calibration”, bring down the “Temperature” and “Tint” values. This will cool down the image and it will start to look more neutral and less red. In my case, I set both values to the minimum (-100):
DNG Profile Editor IR white balance

7. Go to “File” -> “Export Canon EOS 5D Mark III profile” (this name will be different, depending on the make and model of your camera):
DNG Profile Editor export infrared profile

8. Use a descriptive name for the profile (I used Canon EOS 5D Mark III Infrared), then click “Save”:
DNG infrared camera profile

9. A new camera profile has now been saved. You can now quit the DNG Profile Editor and delete the DNG file created earlier.
Infrared profile export

Note: These above steps are only required for the first time. The profile will now be saved and can be used by other softwares, such as Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom.

Next, we will process a RAW infrared photo in Adobe Camera Raw.

5 thoughts on “Processing Infrared Photos in Camera Raw and Photoshop

  1. This is an excellent tutorial. Now I can use the correct white balance and post processing for infrared. I have a converted Nikon D80 with a 590nm filter. I hope you can have some tutorials for this 590nm conversion.

  2. Thank you Ahmed for your precise and very clear explanation of how to
    convert infrared images to colour.

    Your tutorial was by far the best one I have studied,and it has been a success for me,though I still have a little difficulty separating the dominant blue of the sky from the other parts of the image and introducing other colours.Perhaps it is down to inexperience.

    Kind regards


  3. It needs to be noted that on Photoshop CC, the process is a little different. The .dcp file should be manually placed in the [UserName]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Camera Raw/Settings/Adobe/Profiles/ (macOS). After restarting Photoshop, the profile should be in the 1st tab of Camera Raw, in Profile > Browse Profiles > Profiles and should appear automatically in Camera RAW’s first tab from then on.

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