Infrared Conversion with Channel Mixer

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

There are a lot of ways to convert infrared RAW files to the black & white images that many of us seem to enjoy making. One of the most basic ways I by using Photoshop and Photoshop Elements’ Channel Mixer.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.49.55 AM Channel Mixer lets you produce grayscale images by using it’s menu’s interface to choose the percentage of color contribution from each channel. Channel Mixer modifies output by using a mix of the existing image’s color channels and you add or subtracting data from a source channel to the output channel.

Step 1: The original image was captured in RAW mode using a Panasonic Lumix G6 that was converted for infrared-only capture by Life Pixel. Exposure was 1/640 sec at f/9 and ISO 400. The image was then opened in Adobe Photoshop.


CHmxr3Step 2: Next open Channel Mixer (Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer.) Be sure to check the Monochrome option to set Gray as the output channel. This creates a color image that only contains gray values. There are six options including one for Infrared and others for grayscale with colored filters. Try them all or go for “custom.” Move the sliders to control the amount of detail and contrast in the image but first view how changes in each source channel affects the final monochrome image which is “live” as you work on it.

Tip: When adjusting the percentages of the source channels, you get the best results when the combined values of the source channels add up to 100% but this is not how Adobe’s presets work. If you go over 100%, you’ll overexpose an image and if you go under 100%, you will underexpose it.


Step 3: Apply the Channel Mixer command and depending on the image you may want to use the Levels command (as I did here) or tweak using Curves. Ultimately it’s up to you and how you want the image to look. It’s all many photographers may need to convert image files to monochrome but if you want more power, it’s time to reach for power tools, like Silver Efex Pro—hey, it’s free now.

Mark and I have found that Life Pixel does a great job with IR conversions. You can get $50 OFF with Priority Processing Upgrade by using coupon code:farace-ir50. Don’t miss out on this soon to expire offer, order your conversion today !



My book The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography is currently out of print but you can get an affordable used copy or not-so-affordable new copies of the book from