Infrared Effect

Sometimes you encounter one of these really dreamy images, where the treeas are red or white and the sky is nice and blue. This images where in most cases made with infrared photography, where nit only the visible light is captured, but as well light that falls out of the visible spectrum. Luckily, you don’t need to have an infrared camera to do such images, but you can simulate the effect with photo manipulation. In this tutorial I will show you how to do this in photoshop, but the same technique can be used in other tools like Affinity Photo.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Image

Choosing the right images for the effect will give you a better result. Images with a lot of green and blue are very useful, typically a landscape with trees and a blue sky.

For this tutorial I will use the following image from Pixabay created by DanaTentis. Make sure to leave a like when downloading the image to help her out! 🙂

Step 2: Pre-Processing in Camera-Raw

Before we start to do the infrared effect, we open the image in Camera-Raw to do some pre-processing(click here for instructions). I try to achieve the following:

  • A sharp and crisp look of the image
  • Well saturated green colors

For this image, I used the following settings:

Camera Raw Settings

After adjusting the settings, click open to change to photoshop. This is how the image currently looks:

Step 3: Invert Color

  1. Duplicate the image layer(Ctrl±J)
  2. Invert the new layer(Ctrl+I)
  3. Change the Blend Mode of the new layer to “Color”.
Inverted Layer with Blend mode ‘Color’

Your image should now look like this. A lot of purple color and an orange sky. Already a cool looking effect that seems from another planet, but we still have some steps to go.

Inverted Color

Step 4: Swap Red / Blue in Channel Mixer

Next we will have to swap the red and blue channels. For this we will use a Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer:

  1. Go to “Layer >> New Adustment Layer >> Channel Mixer”.
  2. Adjust the following settings to the values in the screenshot:
Settings for the Channel Mixer

Now we already have a nice an red colored image:

Soft read bushes 🙂

Step 5: More Red Colors(Optional)

If you want to get these red colors really popping out, create a Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer and only adjust the red color spektrum:

  1. Go to “Layer >> New Adustment Layer >> Hue/Saturation”.
  2. Adjust the following settings to the values in the screenshot:
Adjustments for Red Colors

Now this looks like a scenery you might have encountered in one of your dreams:

Variation: Red to White

Another option is to change the red to white, what will give you these typical white leaves of infrared photographies. The following are the Settings you will use in the Channel Mixer:

This works well for images that have as well some other colors than green in the original. For examle the following image with a nice and blue sky.

white snowy infrared effect


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