Infrared Photography in Canoe Country

We all have to learn somewhere and somehow and this summer I’ve been learning how to shoot in infrared. I was gifted a Sony A7II camera with a super color conversion from LifePixels. This conversion converted the camera to shoot multi-color infrared images. While interesting, I’ve found that I don’t care to the multi-color infrared images. I actually prefer converting the images to black and white. Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this and get the results that I’m happy with.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Midday works best for infrared.
  • Fair weather cumulus clouds or structured clouds in the sky work best for infrared.
  • You need lots of foliage in the the picture.
  • Calm water looks great in infrared pictures.

Having learned this, I’ve decided to head into canoe country and take infrared pictures. So far, I’ve come up with a few images that I really love.

canoeing infrared

My processing workflow goes like this (this will probably change as I learn more):

  • Import the pictures in Lightroom.
  • Apply a custom profile to the images that I made based on the camera.
  • Do basic adjustments while making sure that the highlights and whites are preserved in the clouds.
  • Open the image in Photoshop.
  • Run it through the TK Infinity Mask plugin by applying a luminosity selection and then outputting it as a pixel layer when finished adjusting the sliders to taste.
  • I control how much black I want in the image by sliding the Range slider towards the left. Then slide the Focus control to the right to eliminate some of the midtones and keep the blacks and highlight stable. Move the strength to the left to help preserve the whites in the clouds. They tend to blowout easily with this process.
  • I may develop several pixel layers using TK Infinity Masks and then blend them with luminosity masks or additional infinity masks.
  • Import back into Lightroom.
  • Make the midtones brighter.
  • Dodge and burn and global adjustments until it looks right. Developing to bring out the simplicity, flow and relationships in the image.

It has been a fun process (and sometime frustrating to learn). I’m definitely right at the edge of understanding this. It’s still slightly out of my grasp, but at least my fingers are now touching my goal. After I finish learning this process, I’m going to figure out how to sell these as traditionally printed black and white prints. I’m thinking that I’ll offer these in one size only and maybe matted with an old-school offset opening signed and titled in pencil.

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