Images taken with an infrared filter, such as Hoya’s IR72, or with cameras that have been converted to infrared need to have their white balance calibrated. The most common technique I’ve come across, and the one I use, is to point the camera at something like grass or a very leafy bush in bright sun and set a custom white balance from this. This is great for the initial setup but once the photo is loaded into Adobe’s Lightroom or Photoshop Camera Raw you’ll find that your white balance is set at the far left of the the slider scale. This greatly reduces your options for manipulating the white balance away from the reds. But, it’s very easy to overcome this issue by creating a custom profile for your (IR) camera.

First, download Adobe’s DNG Profile Editor by following the links from this page. This tool will allow you to open a DNG photo and create a profile. You only need the DNG file for creating the profile itself, so use Lightroom or Photoshop to create one from one of your infrared images. Once you’ve created your profile, you can delete the DNG and go back to using RAW (assuming you use RAW).

Start the DNG Profile Editor and choose File, followed by “Open DNG Image…”. Below is an image of the Seven Sisters taken using an Hoya IR72. As you can see it is very red because the custom white balance is being ignored by the DNG tool.

Seven Sisters IR

Now adjust the White Balance Calibration sliders by pulling them towards the left. I have mine set all the way to the left, but you may want to try a few different settings (remembering you need to follow all the way to Lightroom to see the results) to find one that works for you. In my case the image took on a sort of mustard yellow cast in the DNG editor. This is how the change looked in the DNG editor.

Seven Sisters Adjusted IR

Now choose File followed by “Export <your camera> Profile”. It should offer to save the DCP file in the correct location. On my machine this is Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/CameraProfiles. Sorry, I don’t know the what the equivalent Microsoft Windows location is, but searching for “CameraProfiles” will probably find it.

When you next open Lightroom, you’ll find your new profile added to the set of profiles available in the Camera Calibration section at the bottom. When you choose the profile you’ll see that you white balance has moved too. In my case it now sets it at temperature of 21,000 and tint of 150. You can now use the dropper or the sliders to get a choose a white balance that is further to the “left”. In this example, I got a nice copper toned sky at around 3900/38. By the way, I called my profile 5D IR 1.

Seven Sisters in Lightroom

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