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Simulating Infrared Photos with Exposure 4 – Part 2

I thought this would be a good week to wrap up our simulated infrared photography tutorial. To review, in Part 1 we launched Exposure 4 after making some tweaks to our raw image in ACR, then applied the High Contrast preset in the B&W Infrared category. Afterward we tweaked the Halation settings (to control the glow effect), and made adjustments to the tone curve in order to render an ink-black sky while recovering some highlight details.

For Part 2, we’ll selectively add some color toning back into the process, and add some frame effects, yielding a final stylized IR image. Let’s take a look. Figure 1 approximates the look of the image at the end of Part 1.

Exposure 4 IR Image

Now we need to add some color. We’ll do this using the Split Toning controls, located in the Tone panel, just beneath the Curve controls. The split toning process here is a bit different than the one you find in ACR and Lightroom. Instead of offering independent sliders for both highlights and shadows, you are presented with a gradient ramp. It looks and works much like the Gradient Presets that you can create in Photoshop.

First let’s set the shadow toning. We want to take the darkest quarter of tones (roughly) and apply a faint, dark blue color. This will add a bit of color character to the dark sky, as well as provide a subtle color contrast with the highlights that we’ll tone next. To apply a color, click the sliding color widget above the ramp (called a “cartridge” in this plugin). When you do this the cartridge will take on a raised appearance. Next click the color well to the right of the “Color 2” slider. This will open your system color picker, where you can choose a hue and shade.

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Here I chose a shade of blue that had less purple than the default (more of a slate blue). Next you can drag the shadows cartridge itself to the right, to include more of the dark tones if necessary. Finally, increase the Strength value (I chose a setting of  40).

Now repeat the process you used above with the highlight cartridge. The final split toned result is shown below. Note that the Strength setting for the highlights in many shots will not require as high a value as the one used for shadows, because the highlight colors “show through” right away. Don’t “over-cook it”! 🙂

Now that we’ve added a bit of color character back into our infrared photo, let’s add some sketchy border effects! Click the Age panel button. There are a group of controls for Vignettes, and for Texture. We’ll choose the latter. From the preset menu select Border > Black (Tabbed Black). This creates a look of chemically worn edges.

Opacity defines how strong the effect shows through the original image; I typically reduce this by 15-30 percent to make it “blend” a bit better. The Protect Center control makes sure that the effect is limited to the edges of the frame, but the effect is subtle. The Random seed button generates a different pattern of chemical wear / physical wear (you may have to go through several clicks as it tend to go “back and forth” sometimes before giving you something that looks different enough. (In fact they should probably call it “sort of random seed”…)

Click it until you find a look you like and you’re done! Click OK and your image will be rendered into Photoshop. If you’d like to learn about another great collection of plugins, you may want to check out my articles for onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite.

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About Dan Moughamian (37 Articles)
Dan Moughamian is an experienced photographer and educator, and has worked with Adobe Photoshop since the early 1990s. He also has extensive experience with Photoshop Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, plugins from Nik software, and many other digital imaging products. As an educator, Dan's focus is to help photographers at all levels get the most from their digital workflows.

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