Rob Shea Photography

Infrared Workflow for Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, & Lightroom iPad with LUTs

Infrared image editing in Lightroom with LUT-based profile

This is a step-by-step guide for setting up a color infrared workflow in Lightroom using LUTs, which will speed your edit time and produce great results. Processing a color infrared image with LUTs is as easy as selecting a profile and setting a white balance, all within Lightroom. There are is no round-trip to Photoshop, and no extra TIFF or PSD files required. It works with Lightroom Classic, the new Lightroom, Lightroom Mobile, Lightroom for iPad, and Camera Raw.

There are a number of steps required to setup this method, but they are straight-forward, and only need to be completed once. Although, you may wish to repeat the process for images shot with different infrared cutoff filters, 590nm, 720nm, etc. Here are the steps.

This videos walks through the same process.

The Local Hue Adjustment, recently added to Lightroom, can also be used to create a Lightroom-only workflow. The Local Hue Adjustment method is easier to setup, but I think that the LUT method produces more subtle colors. If you prefer a high-saturation style, try the Local Hue Adjustment.

What is a LUT?

LUT is short for Lookup Table. LUTs are used to transform the input color of an image into a different output color, via a computation. LUTs are commonly used for color grading video, to create a stylize or cinematic look. For infrared, a LUT can be used to save a Photoshop adjustment layer into a profile. That’s essentially how this method uses LUTs.

Create DNG Image

You will need an image from your infrared camera in the DNG or digital negative file format. The DNG file will be used to create a custom profile. If you already convert your images to DNG when you import them into Lightroom, you can skip this step.

  1. Open Lightroom.
  2. Select a raw infrared file in Library module.
  3. In the Library menu, select Convert Photo to DNG.
  4. Click OK button.
  5. Close Lightroom.

Create White Balance Profile

Since the white balance temperature slider in Lightroom does not provide the range we need for infrared, we will need a custom profile to extend the range.

Note: This process creates a white balance profile using a Temperature setting of -100, which works well for 590nm images. If you’d like to create a profile that works well for 720nm images, use -50. If you shoot booth, you may wish to create profiles for both. For example, I created a profile named Temp -100 and one named Temp -50, which can be used in the later steps. You may also wish to experiment with other temperature settings for different infrared cutoffs. Explicit file naming is helpful, as you will need to match profiles with LUTs in later sections.

  1. Download Adobe DNG Profile Editor for Windows or Mac.
  2. Open the DNG Profile Editor.
  3. Open a DNG Image.
  4. On the Color Table tab:
    • Ensure that Base Profile is set to Adobe Standard {camera model}.
    • Ensure that Color Table is set to 6500k.
  5. On the Color Matrices tab:
    • In the White Balance Calibration section, set Temperature to -100.
  6. On the Options tab:
    • Set Profile Name to Temp -100.
  7. In the File menu, select Export (camera name) profile.
    • Save profile to (hidden) CameraProfiles directory.
    • Windows: Paste the following path, replacing {user name} with your Windows user name.
      C:\Users\{user name}\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\CameraRaw\CameraProfiles
    • Mac: use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + G to display the Go to the folder dialog, then paste the following path.
      ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/CameraProfiles
  8. Close DNG Profile Editor, no need to save the recipe.

Create Channel Mixer LUT

Next, you will need to create a LUT. A LUT is essentially a way to save a Photoshop adjustment layer. We will start with a LUT based on the Channel Mixer, swapping the red and blue channels.

  1. Open Photoshop.
  2. Open a DNG image, which will open Camera Raw.
  3. Open the Profile Browser and select the profile you just created with Temp -100.
  4. Leave White Balance as As Shot.
  5. Click Open button.
  6. Add a Channel Mixer adjustment layer, by clicking on the half-filled circle at the bottom of the Layers panel and selecting Channel Mixer….
    • With Output Channel Red selected, set Red to 0% and Blue to 100%.
    • Select the Output Channel Blue, set Red to 100% and Blue to 0%.
  7. In the File menu, select Export, select Color Lookup Table.
    • Description: Channel Mixer 590
    • Quality: High
    • Format: CUBE
    • Click OK button.
    • Click Save button.
      • To Desktop
      • File Name: Channel Mixer 590.lut
      • This will create a file named Channel Mixer 590 .CUBE on your desktop.
  8. For 720nm images, you can repeat the above steps to create a Channel Mixer LUT with Temp -50 profile. If you are creating multiple LUTs, be sure to use a different name, such as Channel Mixer 720.

Create Invert LUT

As an alternative to the Channel Mixer method of swapping colors, I like the Invert method. You can also create a LUT which uses the Invert adjustment layer.

  1. Using the image opened in the last section, delete the Channel Mixer adjustment Layer.
  2. Add an Invert adjustment layer, by clicking on the half-filled circle at the bottom of the Layers panel and select Invert.
  3. Change blend mode of the Invert adjustment layer to Color or Hue (both produce the same results).
  4. In the File menu, select Export, select Color Lookup Table.
    • Description: Invert 590
    • Quality: High
    • Format: CUBE
    • Click OK button.
    • Click Save button.
      • To Desktop
      • Name: Invert 590
      • This will create a file named Invert 590.CUBE on your desktop.
  5. For 720nm images, you can repeat the above steps to create an Invert LUT with Temp -50 profile. If you are creating multiple LUTs, be sure to use a different name, such as Invert 720.

Combine White Balance profile and LUT into a single profile

You have created custom profile in order to improve the range of the white balance temperature slider. Then, you created LUTs to swap your colors. In this step, you will combine both of those into a single profile for use in Lightroom or Camera Raw.

Note: If you are creating multiple profiles to support various Infrared cutoffs, such as 590nm and 720nm, be sure to select matching profiles in this section. For example, if creating a channel mixer profile for 720nm, be sure to select the Temp -50 profile and select the LUT that was also created with the Temp -50 profile you named Channel Mixer 720.

  1. In Photoshop, close any open images.
  2. Open a RAW/DNG image in ACR.
  3. Open Edit panel (keyboard shortcut: e)
    • Profile: Temp -100
    • White Balance: As Shot
  4. Open Presets panel (keyboard shortcut: Shift-P)
  5. Alt-click the New Preset icon at top of panel to open New Profile dialog. (This icon appears at the bottom of the Preset panel in older versions of Photoshop.)
    • Name: {camera name} IR Channel Mixer 590
    • Group: Create a new group named Infrared
    • Current Image Settings to Include:
      • Check - Camera Profile: "Temp -100"
      • Tone Map Strength: Low (Normal)
      • Check - Color Lookup Table
        • Select LUT file: Channel Mixer 590.CUBE
        • Space: Adobe RGB or sRGB Match the settings on your camera or use sRGB if you are not sure.
        • Click OK button.
  6. Repeat to create the Invert profile.
  7. Alt-click New Preset icon at bottom of panel to open New Profile dialog
    • Name: {camera name} IR Invert 590
    • Group: Infrared
    • Current Image Settings to Include:
      • Check - Camera Profile: "Temp -100"
      • Tone Map Strength: Low (Normal)
      • Check - Color Lookup Table
        • Select LUT file: Invert 590.CUBE
        • Space: Adobe RGB or sRGB Match the settings on your camera or use sRGB if you are not sure.
        • Click OK button.
  8. If you wish to create profiles for 720nm images, repeat the above step using the Temp -50 profile and LUTs created named * 720 created with Temp -50.

That’s it. Your new profile is now ready to use in Lightroom and Camera Raw.

Use custom Profile in Lightroom

  1. Close and Open Lightroom or Lightroom Classic.
  2. Select any raw image created with the same camera as you have created a profile for.
  3. Open Profile Browser.
  4. Select new Profile.
  5. Set White Balance.

Note: Colors in Lightroom will be reversed with some tools, such as Tone Curve Channels, HSL, Calibration, and the Temp slider in Graduated/Radial/Brush filters. Split Toning unaffected and colors work as expected.

Sync new Profiles with Lightroom Mobile

  1. Open Lightroom (not Classic) on the desktop.
  2. In the File menu, select Import Profiles & Presets.
  3. Navigate to the (hidden) CameraRaw directory.
    • Windows: Paste the following path, replacing {user name} with your Windows user name.
      C:\Users\{user name}\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\CameraRaw\
    • Mac: Use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + G to display the Go to the folder dialog, then paste the following path.
      ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/
  4. Select the profiles. Be sure to include all of the profiles you created. The *.dcp files will be in the CameraProfiles directory. The *.xmp files will be in the Settings directory.
    • ../CameraProfiles/{camera name} Temp -100.dcp
    • ../CameraProfiles/{camera name} Temp -50.dcp
    • ../Settings/{camera name} Channel Mixer 590.xmp
    • ../Settings/{camera name} Invert 590.xmp
    • ../Settings/{camera name} Channel Mixer 720.xmp
    • ../Settings/{camera name} Invert 720.xmp
  5. Click Import button.
  6. Once sync is complete, open Lightroom on iPad and profiles will be available.

Enjoy!

Comments

If you have comments, questions or feedback, use the comment section for this video.

2020-07-04: Updated to reflect that the Temp slider in Graduated/Radial/Brush filters is reversed when using this method.

LifePixel Infrared Camera Conversions