Film photographers understand the power and challenges of using infrared film to capture images with a unique eye-popping look. While some modern digital cameras include an infrared emulation mode, this approach can deliver hit-or-miss results.
The good news is that it’s easy to use Lightroom Classic to mimic this look, as you’ll see in today’s tutorial from the popular PHLOG Photography YouTube channel. Infrared photos appear surreal and otherworldly, with unusual colors in the skies and bizarre-looking trees and other types of foliage.
Instructor Christian Mohrle is a notable German landscape photographer who we often enlist to explain interesting Photoshop and Lightroom techniques that are unfamiliar to many of our readers. In this episode he demonstrates how to recreate the infrared effect in barely eight minutes. The results you’ll achieve are very impressive and will definitely stand out from the crowd.
If you want to follow along and make the changes yourself, download the Raw file from the link beneath the video. Mohrle begins by expanding Lightroom’s Basic panel. Then he clicks on the Profiles tab and selects Browse from the dropdown menu. This brings up a variety of categories, and the Artistic 3 option is the one you want.
Now your photo takes on an autumn appearance, but here’s the trick: You can push the Amount slider to the right until foliage appears just as though the image was shot on infrared film.
At this point the effect looks pretty good, but there are a few tweaks you can make to enhance the image even further. Mohrle demonstrates how to use simple sliders to adjust White Balance, Tint, Vibrance and Saturation. You can make the infrared effect as intense as you want, or dial it back, depending upon your preference.
Mohrle then leaves the Basic panel and opens Lightroom’s Color Mixer for precise adjustments to the tones. As you’ll see, these enhancements are also quickly achieved using a few simple sliders. He drops orange and yellow saturation, while pumping up the greens to further intensify the infrared look of the foliage.
He also employs the Luminance tab to directly accentuate the adjustments he just made. All that’s left to complete the transformation are some basic exposure adjustments and simple masking, and Mohrle walks you through the steps in just about a minute. You can find more great landscape tips on Mohrle’s YouTube channel.
And be sure to check out another tutorial we posted, with a unique Lightroom technique for creating a realistic tilt-shift effect.