A look through my galleries here on PBase will no doubt show even the most casual observer that I'm not a big fan of Black & White (B&W) photography. This is due to my long history with it back in the days when color work was simply not possible in the home darkroom and when it eventually did become available, it was cumbersome, difficult, and expensive to work with and the results were usually fairly mediocre.
So during those years of being a slave to B&W, I longed for color capability and now that digital has given it to me, it simply seems like a step backward to be producing B&W imagery with it. That said, and while I generally consider B&W imagery to be flat and lifeless compared to color (my own personal taste, I know there are a lot of people who love B&W), there is still some B&W imagery that appeals to me.
One type of that is infrared imagery and the reason I like it is because of the surreal look it gives the world, something I don’t find easy to produce with color. However, while I’ve always found infrared appealing, it doesn’t interest me enough to invest in what is needed to shoot it or to even go to the bother to learn how.
Enter digital once again...and more specifically, Photoshop’s ‘Black & White Adjustment Layer’, which I believe was introduced in version CS3. This does a very similar job as selecting the ‘Monochrome’ option in the Channel Mixer, which has been part of Photoshop for even longer, but the Black & White Adjustment Layer has more color options and is simply easier to work with.
And it is particularly adept at creating a faux infrared image since ‘Infrared’ is one of the options in the drop down menu at the top of its palette. I use this option as a starting point, but generally find its results a bit too strong and end up tweaking the sliders of the various colors until I get a look I like better.
The original infrared film turned green foliage nearly white, while turning blue skies almost black, and that’s the look the Infrared option of the Black & White Adjustment Layer tries to produce, although not as well as a true infrared image, but what the adjustment layer does for you that true infrared doesn’t do is it gives you the ability to brighten or darken any color range.
Anyway, below are some faux infrared images I generated with the Black & White Adjustment Layer...