Setting White Balance on Infrared Images with Lightroom (with video)

Color infrared image captured with a Nikon D700 and processed in Lightroom 5 and Adobe Photoshop CS6.
Color infrared image captured with a Nikon D700 and processed in Lightroom 5 and Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom does not handle RAW images captured with an infrared (IR) converted camera well by default. The problem lies in the white balance settings, which can be a real challenge to get right. However, you can work around this problem by creating a custom camera calibration profile using Adobe’s DNG Profile Editor software. The custom profile will let you have the necessary latitude to correct the WB setting in your IR images for further processing.

Here’s the whole process explained in a brief video that I put together:

How to create a custom camera profile for infrared images

  • Step 1: Open your RAW image in Lightroom or ACR.
  • Step 2: Export a copy of the RAW file in Adobe DNG format
  • Step 3: Open the DNG image in the DNG Profile Editor application
  • Step 4: In the “Color Matrices” tab, move the temperature slider to around -85
  • Step 5: Name and export the new Camera Profile
  • Step 6: Quit and re-launch Lightroom
  • Step 7: Choose your new custom profile from the Camera Calibration module in Lightroom and adjust WB accordingly
A "super-color" D700 infrared image converted in Lightroom with default settings looks too orange.
The original “super-color” D700 infrared image converted in Lightroom with default settings looks too orange.
By using a custom profile I created in the DNG Profile Editor, I can get the blue hues in foliage.
By using a custom profile I created in the DNG Profile Editor, I can get the blue hues in foliage.

9 thoughts on “Setting White Balance on Infrared Images with Lightroom (with video)”

  1. Thank you Jason for tis video. I will be purchasing the video on infrared and lightroom use. My question is- can I use the profile you described here, or create a preset- to automatically apply these white balance changes whenever I initially import infrared images into my library from the get-go? Also, If I use a higher 890nm filter on my color converted camera- will it work differently?

    Thanks! Jay

  2. Thanks so much for this Jason. Much needed. I’ve been doing this like a charm but have since read that using LR/PS to set white balance is a “third party” way to do it and the first party way to do it is using the native software. I have a Nikon so mine would be Nikon NX2. Thoughts on this?

  3. You can set WB in native software using the WB tools. If you do that, you need to then save a TIFF version to use in Photoshop or whatever other editor you plan to go to. NX2 is not supported any longer, so be aware of that. The reason I do it in LR is because a) it works fine and b) I don’t need to run two different workflows.

  4. Hi, Bit late to the meeting on this but I have question.
    “With all the updates to the Adobe software why is not possible to just do all this in Lightroom rather than going via another Adobe option of the Profiler”?
    You can convert as you no all images to DNG if you want to do so during import to Lightroom. Would have thought the boffins at Adobe would have got round the 2000 mark on W/B if they already have it available in the DNG converter?
    Thanks
    Russ

  5. HI Jason. I am trying to use this to convert a jpeg IR image and strictly black and white, don’t care about the colors. When I go through the steps and exit lightroom and then reopen the profile isn’t an option. No profiles are. It only shows “embed” and “default” with 3 year dates to pick from 2003, 2005, 2012 and it defaults to 2012. No camera options like yours and the profile name I saved in the DNG software doesn’t appear as an option and i’ve saved it multiple times trying to get it to work. Also…any fix on how to get less noise in these images? Thanks

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