Easy IR (Infrared); Create Your Own From Any Color Image File Page 2

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3) Images made with Kodak High Speed IR film often have an eerie glow, partially caused by film halation. Now it's time to add that IR glow effect to this portrait. Flatten the file by choosing Layer>Flatten Image. Next, blur the image with Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, #5. The radius amount will vary with the size of your file, so experiment. As a starting point, try 5-20 pixels for a 25MB size image and 2-10 pixels for a 5MB image. In this example, which is an 18MB size file, I found that a Gaussian Blur radius setting of 5 worked well. Your screen image will now become totally blurred, but don't worry.

5. To add the eerie IR glow effect to this portrait, I flattened the image by choosing Layer>Flatten Image. Next, I blurred the image with Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. For this 18MB file, a radius setting of 5 worked well. Your screen image will now become totally fuzzy, but don't worry.

Choose Edit>Fade Gaussian Blur, #6 (Filter>Fade in Photoshop 5). Click the Preview box and change the Mode of the blurred channel to Screen or Overlay. This is the blend mode which controls how each layer will interact or blend with the layers below it. Since the default blend mode is Normal, this is what you should first see in the Mode window in the Fade dialog box. Click on the double arrows and then select "Screen" or another mode from the Mode pop-up menu. You'll probably want to re-adjust the Opacity slider according to the mode setting you've chosen. Try Screen first, then Overlay. Sometimes, Overlay provides better contrast and richer blacks, but may make the image too dark. Again, you have to experiment. Try other mode settings, too, like Hard Light or Soft Light.

6. After applying the Gaussian Blur, I chose Edit>Fade Gaussian Blur, and changed the blend mode to Screen and reduced the Opacity to 30 percent.

While you're still in the Fade dialog box, drag the Opacity slider to the left to reduce the effect of the blur. The amount varies with each image and with the amount of blur you applied originally, so try a number of different settings. In some images, 5-25 percent works well, in others, 80 percent. In the example shown here, I found that a fade to 30 percent worked well with the Screen blend mode, #7. But I also liked the look with it cranked up to 60 percent, although a lot of detail was blown out at this higher setting. Again, you can fine-tune the tonalities and contrast with a Curves or Levels Adjustment Layer.

(Remember at the outset I suggested that you make several copies of your original. Now is when you might want to haul some of those out and repeat the earlier steps trying totally different Gaussian Blur, Mode, and Opacity settings.)

7. Fading to 30 percent retrieves some of the original detail while keeping 30 percent of the blur's glow. The Screen blend mode lightens the image overall.

4) IR film exhibits pronounced, gritty grain, all part of the IR aesthetic. If you want to add a grain effect to your digital IR image, make a duplicate of your Background Layer by choosing Layer>Duplicate Layer. Now, with the Duplicate Layer active (highlighted in the Layers palette), choose Filter>Noise>Add Noise. The Distribution-Gaussian setting usually works best while the Amount varies according to the size of your image. Play with the slider until you see the look you like. Be sure to check the Monochromatic box at the bottom. When this is on, noise is applied the same to all color channels. When off, the effect is random for each channel and can introduce unwanted color in your monochromatic image. As with the Gaussian Blur, you can experiment with different blend modes for this grain layer. Try Edit>Fade Noise and try different blend modes such as Multiply and Darken.

If the image with added grain is too low in contrast or too dark, flatten the image and apply Levels or Curves to adjust the tonality and contrast if you're working with Elements 2. With Photoshop CS, add a Curves or Levels Adjustment Layer and group it with the background copy. Then in CS, to compare the last IR effect to the one with grain, simply go to the Layers palette and click the eye icon for the noise (grain) layer on and off. You may prefer not to add grain for some subjects. I tried it with this example and decided that I preferred the smooth sculptural skin tone without grain.

5) Yet another filter to experiment with that enhances the IR effect is Filter>Distort>Diffuse Glow. You can try it instead of Gaussian Blur as described earlier. Or add it after you've applied a Gaussian Blur.

Finally, for the richest results from a desktop ink jet printer, keep your file in the RGB color mode and print in your printer's color mode. Your print will still be black and white, but you'll be using all the inks instead of just black for a smoother, deeper print. For striking black and white portraits such as this, I prefer to print on a heavy art paper such as Luminos Classic Velour. A matte or slightly textured paper enhances the fine art feel of IR imagery.

These operations take much longer to describe than to actually perform. So open up one of your favorite color portraits and take it in to the eerie and dramatic world of IR.

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