RAW Quality Infrared Photography

One of the typical issues I had when doing infrared photography is that when shooting in RAW format, when we import a photo in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, everything turns reddish again, as if we hadn’t used a proper white balance.

That happens because at least both Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom aren’t capable of using temperatures lower to 2000º K, and when we import a RAW file that had a lower temperature than that (which is usual in infrared photography lol), Photoshop sets the temperature to 2000º K because it can’t go lower.

We need a quite lower temperature so even if we swap red and blue channels to get the proper colors, the result will be still much worse than what we could have obtained when processing with the correct temperature.

(See image 1 for bad temperature example)

The solution? Use another software, at least to import the RAW file.

When I saw this problem I tried other applications and I personally like Oloneo PhotoEngine (www.oloneo.com), which is more a HDR Software than a RAW processing tool, but works great to solve the problem with infrared photography (They offer a 30-day trial).

In Oloneo, we just need to import the RAW file and adjust whatever we want, EXCEPT temperature.

As soon as we touch the temperature slider, Oloneo will try to change the temperature to the original and in this case the result will be horrible again, because Oloneo’s lowest temperature is 2500º K, still not enough! Then, do not touch the slider and change whatever you want (I find very useful the detail strength slider, it really enhances a lot of details).

Once done, we export as TIF format.

(See image 2 for good temperature example, exported with Oloneo, imported in Photoshop and then swapping red and blue channels)


Now we can import the TIF file in Photoshop or wherever we want without temperature problems and with RAW image quality!


Here’s a different perspective of the same place, using some split toning done with Lightroom:

Natural leading