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  • Chris Owens

Creating a Monochrome Profile for Infrared Images

Updated: Sep 11, 2021

I use a modified Canon EOS 20D to capture infrared images, which are then processed in Adobe Lightroom. I shoot in RAW, and the images, when imported, are various shades of red – as would be expected. From this state they can be converted to monochrome (either shades of gray or other subtle variations) or to false colour images. There are various ways of doing a monochrome conversion. One way I have found useful is to create and apply a camera profile.

To create a profile you will need the following:

  • A suitable image converted from RAW to DNG format

  • Adobe’s DNG Profile Editor, which you can download from Adobe Labs for either Windows or Mac.

Profile Image

To create a profile image – the image that is going to be used to create the profile – capture an image of grass (preferably an even area of grass such as a lawn) in sunlight.  Capture the image as a raw image and set the white balance to automatic. I tried creating the profile from an image of an X-Rite colorchecker chart, but it did not produce a profile any better than the one produced from the grass.

Once you have created the profile image, convert it to Adobe’s DNG format – in Lightroom you can do this by right-clicking on the image and selecting Export > Export to DNG.

Create the Profile

1. Open the DNG Profile editor.

2. Open the DNG file that you exported previously.

3. Select the Color Matrices Tab

4. Adjust the saturation of each of the primary colour channels as shown below. 

6. Once the image has the tone you want, export the profile: File > Export {name of your camera} profile…, give the profile a name and save it.

Apply the Profile

This section covers applying the profile in Adobe Lightroom, but the same principles apply in other packages.

  1. Select the image in the Develop module.

  2. Scroll down to the Camera Calibration section.

  3. Open the list of profiles and select the one that you saved in the previous step. Your image will change from monochromatic red to greyscale (or whatever colour you set in the profile).

  4. You can now make the adjustments to your image in the usual way.

You can also set the profile to be applied automatically during import by creating a develop setting and applying it during import.

Final Image

And here is the final image.

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