Easy Tips For Setting The IR Black & White Points In Lightroom

The IR Workshop 

This feature shot was taken yesterday on the first of three How To Take Better IR Photos Workshops. The next workshop with places if you are interested is on the 11 September 2017 at Stourhead in Wiltshire.

See more info https://www.andybeelfrps.co.uk/workshops

As with all my workshops the size of the group is limited to four participants. We sat in the cafe and had a coffee, I asked each of the group what they wanted to get out of the workshop to help their IR photography. Each persons wants were discussed so they have a way forward. Most asked questions around exposure, focusing and lens hots spots.

In the tutorial I then I introduced the group to the idea of visualising the effect of IR capture. The strength of the IR effect is based on how well a surface reflects IR light. I gave the group a few ideas how surfaces like the sky, water, different colours and various types of vegetation will respond to IR.
After the tutorial we headed out in to the famous grounds at Stourhead to take a few snaps. Three of the participants were using converted digital bodies to take infrared, as this the most convenient way to operate with this wavelength of light. One was using a IR Filter in front of the camera lens, this requires a tripod because the exposures were in tens of seconds.
IR Post-processing 

As a general guide to the participants of the workshop and Blog readers I have put up this post to show how I deal with the low contrast of IR files.

Straight from the Camera 

The is what an IR picture looks like straight out of the camera as a raw file. It should be noted that all IR files straight out of the camera will be low contrast, and contrast will need boosting in your post-processing workflow. Note opposite the ends of the Histogram are not close to the edges.

Converted to Mono

The shot above has been converted to Black and White by desaturating all the colours in Lightroom.

Adjusting the black and white points with Basic Tone Sliders in Lightroom 

The reasons why

It is necessary to adjust the Black and White Point either with Sliders or Tone Curve to significantly increase the contrast required for the low contrast file.

The shot above shows the effect gained by controlling the look of the picture with the Lightroom Basic Tone Sliders. This process was carried out in two stages:

1 Adjust the White and Black sliders whilst looking at the Histogram so there is a small space at either end of the Histogram.

2 Followed by adjustment of the Exposure, Highlight and Shadows

This is correct and most efficient way of working if you prefer to use the sliders.

Adjusting the White and Black points with Tone Curve

Note – to get the same Curve type as I use click on the square box at the very bottom right of the Tone Curve area, on the right of the text Point Curve: Custom. See the info-graphic opposite.

Because I stated using Curves in Ps 6 I have always used Curves in Lightroom to create the look of my pictures. I start with Curves and do the fine tweaking with Sliders. This is my preference and what what works for me.

1 To adjust the black and white point of the curve as illustrated opposite – Refer to the Histogram as you are doing this operation, Click on the Black point (bottom left of the Curve) and drag it towards the right, stop when reach the bottom the Histogram in the Curve Window.

2 To adjust the White Point, Click on the White Point (top right of the Curve) and drag it towards the left, stop when reach the bottom the Histogram in the Curve window.

Refer to the example opposite.

Note – the steeper the Curve the greater the Contrast.


Adjusted Black and White Points with a Custom Curve

The starting point here is with Black and White Points adjusted as noted above.

I have pushed the Curve to raise the highlights and lower the shadows, making a custom curve, Always refer to the Histogram whilst adjusting Custom Curves. In most general cases – there should be a small gap at both ends of the Histogram to ensure printable highlight and shadow detail. See the example above.

All my pictures are made with custom Curves.

Simon Marsden’s Inspiring IR Website 

See the wonderful film based IR pictures by Simon Marsden

My printing manual gives the full low down on using Custom Curves in straight forward steps.

The Dark Art – A Black and White Digital Printing Workshop Manual 

Unlock your latent printing ability


Click on the cover for more info.