Infrared Photos with Split-Tone Color

Lightroom 5 has a section called “Split Toning”, which I hardly ever use.  But I went to a local Japanese garden and took a couple photos of the side gate.  The garden is small and nothing spectacular, but maintained and provides some good photo subjects.

When I started processing the images back home, I wanted to do something a little different from the normal monochrome conversion.  Just for fun, here is a JPEG exported straight from the RAW file with no editing. This is what I started with.

Yashiro Japanese Garden Gate - Infrared, no editing

Yashiro Japanese Garden Gate – Infrared, no editing

Shooting infrared with my Canon 6D has a few limitations. It’s not converted for infrared, and instead has a fairly strong “hot mirror” which keeps most of the infrared light from reaching the sensor.  So when I use my IR filter, my exposures in bright sunlight can be 10 to 30 seconds long. As you can see, slight breezes blur the leaves quite badly.  And to get those shutter speeds, I am using ISO 1600, which means, even with the 6D, the image will have some noise.

In addition, there is an odd hallow around defined edges that defies the laws of physics where visible light is concerned.  For example, click on the photo to see more detail and look near the bottom hinge of the right door.  The leaves BEHIND the door seem to be casting a reflection or reverse-shadow on the FRONT edge of the door.  The letters on the sign also have some ghosting.  It could be the way IR light bounces around in my 50mm f1.8 lens’ optics. I honestly don’t know, but I don’t have this issue with my old Canon Powershot G3, which I’ve used for infrared photos for many years.

Enough moaning… Here is what I got in Lightroom:

Yashiro Gate - Split-Tone on  B&W

Yashiro Gate – Split-Tone on B&W

Split toning in Lightroom allows you to choose a color for the highlights and a different color for the shadows.  I found that applying the principle of color contrast works well here.  I chose a warm color (soft yellow) for highlights, and a cool color (blue) for the shadows.  You can adjust the saturation for each color separately.  And you can adjust the balance between the two.  This photo is heavily biased toward the blue tone.

This photo is more biased toward a yellow/orange color, but you can still see the subtle blues in the shadows.

Yashiro Gate - Infrared, Split Tone

Yashiro Gate – Infrared, Split Tone

Once again, the motion blur from breezes and the odd ghosting make the details softer than ideal, but it is a fun effect.  I’ll have to try this on some normal black and white images!


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