Infrared channel swapping in Lightroom opened new doors for IR photographers. The previous article explained how to achieve two important things in editing infrared frames in Lightroom. The first was, how to shift the temperature scale using Adobe DNG Profile Editor to have a better white balance. That was followed by creating the equivalent of blue and red channel swapping directly in Lightroom using a graduated filter. In this installment of the series, I will present two additional approaches using Adobe Camera Raw.
The initial step outlined and explained in detail in the earlier article to shift the temperature slider scale for white balance is still necessary. If you have not done that yet, please visit the first installment of this latest series and create a new profile before going any further. You need to complete the steps under the heading First thing First. If you created the necessary camera profile from the previous article, you may use that without going through the same steps again.
Channel Swapping Using ACR – Option 2
The same graduated filter approach used in Lightroom will work in Adobe Camera Raw as well. The screens are slightly different and there will be two options for saving the channel swap results. The first will be the same as in Lightroom, we will create a preset to apply it quickly and consistently. A bonus of doing this in ACR is the ability to save the channel swap as a profile. Let’s go!
Temperature Scale Shift and R-B Swap
- Start Photoshop and proceed to open one of your infrared raw images, don’t send it from Lightroom to Photoshop
- The image will open in Adobe Camera Raw, select the camera profile you created in the previous step as explained in the previous post; this will shift the temperature scale
- From the icon menu stack on the right edge, click on the graduated filter
- Holding the Shift key pressed, start the graduated filter just outside the image and drag it away from the edge of the image, see the screen captures below; the green dot is the starting point, the red, the end
- Using the colorful tool among the adjustments for the graduated filter, move the source slider on the hue scale at the bottom all the way to the right or all the way to the left
- This will effectively swap the red and the blue channels just like in the previous post
You are now ready to use one of the options below or both.
Create a Preset to Use in ACR or Lightroom
To have this automated and available on-demand in ACR or Lightroom, one option is to create a preset.
- Click on the Presets icon on the right sidebar to display the presets, see the first image below
- Look at the top of this panel to see the New Preset icon and click on it, there is a screen capture below showing this screen and the icon to click
- In the new pop-up options screen, first, click on Check None to make sure nothing else will be saved by accident
- Enter a preset name in the field at the top and pick a presets group to contain it
- Next, put a checkmark in the boxes next to Profile and Graduated Filter
- In the example, I called it ACR R-B Swap Preset and put it under User Presets
- Click on OK to save
Use the Preset
This preset will now be available both in ACR and Lightroom. Just to make sure Lightroom will see it, restart it if already open. You will see the preset under User Presets on the left-hand side Presets panel. When you click on it when an IR image is opened, it will apply the settings from the preset and you will end up with a shifted temperature scale and the red and blue channels swapped with typical colors. Of course, you can use this preset in ACR as well to do the same.
Create a Profile to Use in ACR or Lightroom
One benefit of using ACR to make the channel swap and the temperature scale shift is the ability to create a camera profile instead of a preset. The benefit of doing this is twofold. First, no graduated filter will be added to the images. Second, the profile amount adjustment scale will allow for increasing or decreasing the level of the adjustments applied by the new camera profile by using the slider called “Amount.”
- Follow the steps under Temperature Scale Shift and R-B Swap section above
- Click on the Presets icon on the right sidebar
- This time, press and hold the Alt key as you click on the Create a New Preset icon at the top; this will open the new Profile window instead of the Preset as shown below
- Enter a descriptive name in the top field and select the group that should contain this new profile, see the image below
- The other options should already be selected, Profile and Graduated Filters; if not, put a checkmark next to those options
- Click on OK to save the new camera profile which will be available both in ACR and Lightroom
Use the Profile
Restart Lightroom if it was open, and navigate to one of your IR photographs taken with the same camera. When you click on Browse next to the camera profile in the Basic panel, you will now see the new camera profile. Click on it to select, and presto! You have a widened temperature scale, and the red and blue channels are swapped.
Unlike a preset, you will be able to increase or decrease the amount of the changes inherent in the profile. Try it, you will see the change. This may make it more flexible for some images without losing anything from the preset alternative. By using the Amount slider of the profile, you can increase the intensity of the changes or reduce them while visually observing the changes.
In the next post, I will present a process to swap the red and blue channels in Photoshop and create a camera profile using the exported LUT that you can use in Lightroom or ACR. Time and space permitting, I may also suggest a few things you can experiment with to find the best combination of settings for your camera and your vision.
Interesting articles. Thanks for these! I would like to actually have an old DSLR converted. Is there a particular company that does the modifications??
A. Cemal Ekin
Glad you are enjoying them, Sal. There are several, LifePixel, Kolari, and a few other smaller ones. Kolari is in NJ I think.
Very useful articles indeed. Will come up quite handy if and ever I try IR photography. Until then, I prefer to keep the links for future reference.
Thanks for sharing Cemal. Take care and best regards,
A. Cemal Ekin
I hope one of these days you take the plunge and enter the world of infrared photography, Haluk. Antalya, with its bright sun and vast blue sky above the Mediterranean, offers rich content possibilities. The last part of this series will come sometime next week.
The IR guy
Thank for the tips. Great article. Been shooting long in IR, from my first d70s conversion, then d5000 and finally the sony a6000. With the last I was shooting JPEG only due to the WB issue and the inability to change the WB on the raw files. You’re DNG profile editor tip helped a lot. Not to mention I don’t have to open the files in PS for the channel mixer, it’s easier in LR now.
The IR guy :p
A. Cemal Ekin
Thank you for stopping by The IR guy, and I am glad to hear from someone who is really into IR photography that the article was useful. Your Instagram feed is rich in channel swapped IR.
I own and enjoy using my LifePixel IR converted Sony A6000 camera and have used your previous method for IR swapping within Adobe Camera Raw for about 6 months. But today, I saw you had updated the ACR method using the graduated filter and it is even more elegant! Wonderful! So much easier and the results are fantastic! You are an excellent and thorough teacher. Thank you for sharing these methods!
A. Cemal Ekin
Oh, welcome back, John. I am happy to be of help and share what I know about photography, maybe everything. Teaching has been my karma and I feel better for it! I appreciate your very kind words. Do you have a place where I can peek at your photographs?
I don’t have much of a web presence, sorry. I do compete in monthly competitions hosted by the CdCC (Cranbury digital Camera Club) and you can view my entries at http://cranburydigitalcameraclub.org/pages/public_photos.php but you will have to select my name at the top and select the year. I’ve entered for about 3 years. 2021 is the first year I’ve entered some IR images since purchasing the converted Sony A6000 earlier this year.
While I’ve got you, might I ask another question?…
Within ACR, have you any ideas, other than using a LUT created in PS, to swap the green and blue channels instead of the red and blue you’ve described above? This will alter a color digital image to be quite reminiscent of images shot on Lomochrome Purple film. I’m not sure that the Hue slider within ACR will do this, but maybe there is another way?
Possibly there is a way to create the Lomochrome Purple look using a digital IR image directly since the Lomography film is mimicking Kodak Aerochrome IR film. It’s something I’ve got to experiment with.
A. Cemal Ekin
I took a quick look at your competition submissions, when I go back home, I will look at them more carefully.
You can swap any channels you like. If you follow the instructions and substitute “Green” for “Red,” the resulting LUT will reflect a G-B channel swap. Name the LUT and the profile with a reminder of which channels are swapped for easy picking.
If you are the bow maker John Aniano, you may be interested in my post about a luthier I visited in Salt Lake City, if I am mistaken, just ignore the link. :
If you are indeed a bow maker, your art transcends photography!