Make Your Infrared Portraits Look Better

December 29, 2015

 

 

example6a

Here’s a few steps to help improve your work

Portraits in Infrared can produce some stunning results but often need adjusting in post production.

Often a few short steps can make a big difference.

Today I’m going to show a series of quick steps to help improve your finished product.

The image I am working with was shot inside with a white background and a set of hot lights.

The camera was a Super Color converted Canon SL1, The lens a Canon 40mm f2.8 STM.  meta3

A White Balance was set using the white background as a reference image.

The fstop 8.0, the shutter speed was 1/60, the ISO 100.

 

 

This is the RAW image file opened in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional.

1

 

It needs some help.  dpp

 

 

The first thing I did was a second White Balance using the background as a reference,

then I adjusted the Brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows, color saturation, and sharpening.

 

 

Then I converted the image and opened it in Photoshop. example-a

 

It’s a little bit better but needs more.

ps1

 

 

 

So, Since I want to process this quickly, I’m going to see what Photoshop can do with Auto Tones.

I clicked Image, Auto Tone.

And I got this.

example1

ps2a

My lighting looks better, but Red color tones are distracting.

 

Let’s remove that Red tone.  I’ll click Image, Adjustments, Hue/Saturation.

 

ps3

In Hue/Saturation, I’ll select RED from the drop box and then

Slide the Lightness bar all the way to the right.

 

With some images, you may find other color tones that do not add to the image quality.  Often there can be Magenta or even Green tones.  You can desaturate them this way.  First, try adjusting the lightness.  If that does not look right to you, consider adjusting the Saturation level slider.

 

This is also how to make the foliage white in an Infrared landscape image where you have color in your trees or grass.

Now, this is starting to look better.

example2

But, I want the eyes to pop more, really draw attention.

 

So, I am going to lighten just the eyes.

To do that I will want to use a layer mask.

What I am going to do is create a duplicate copy of this image, adjust the eyes the way I want, and then using a layer mask, paint in what I want from that adjusted layer. It is not difficult once you learn the steps.   To create a new layer, click Layer, then Duplicate layer.

ps4

When the Duplicate Layer box comes up, rename the Layer Eye Adjustments

 

ps5

 

You will now see the Eye Adjustment layer in your list of layers.

ps6

 

Now I am going to adjust this layer, with my attention just on the eyes.

ps7

 

I’ll open Image, Adjustments, Brightness/Contrast

 

And adjust the sliders until I like the way the eyes look.

 

You can also adjust the color tone of the eyes by adjusting the Hue/Saturation levels.

 

 

I am not concerned with the rest of the image because I’m only going to use the eyes from this layer.

Now, I need a Layer Mask.

 

ps8a

 

 

For a Layer Mask, click Layer, Layer Mask, Hide All

 

Now only what we want from the Eye Adjustment layer will show when we paint it into the original image.

ps9

 

Next, select the Brush tool.

ps10

 

 

Then select brush size and hardness.

 

 

for something like this, I would use a small brush with a soft edge.

Then carefully paint in the eyes.  If you make a mistake, and I often do, just grab the eraser tool and remove what you don’t want.

 

If the Eye Adjustment Layer Mask seems too intense, simply lessen it by lowering the Opacity level.

 

Here is the image, side by side.  The right image is with the Layer Mask

example3

 

ps14

 

 

It is at this point you will want to save the layered versions of this image as a Photoshop PSD file.  Then click Layer, Merge Visible.

ps12

 

Now let’s adjust the colors in this image.

 

Click Image, Adjustments, Selective Color.

ps13

 

Then I am going to adjust the color tones with the color.

 

I have Blue and Cyan in this image, and I think I’ll adjust both a little.

Now let’s see, side by side, what we started and ended with.

example5

So, what do you think?  Once you learn the steps the process does not take very long.

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