Rob Shea Photography

Infrared Workflow for Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, & Lightroom iPad with LUTs

Infrared image editing in Lightroom with LUT-based profile

This is a step-by-step guide for setting up a color infrared workflow in Lightroom using Enhanced Profiles (*.xmp) with LUTs, which will speed your edit time and produce great results. Processing a color infrared image with Enhanced Profiles is as easy as selecting a profile and setting a white balance, all within Lightroom. There are is no round-trip to Photoshop, and no extra TIFF or PSD files required. It works with Lightroom Classic, the new Lightroom (CC), Lightroom Mobile, Lightroom for iPad, and Camera Raw.

There are a number of steps required to setup this method, but they are straight-forward, and only need to be completed once. Here are the steps.

This video walks through the same process. A number of clarifications have been added to this page to improve the workflow and make it more accurate compared to the video.

The Local Hue Adjustment, recently added to Lightroom, can also be used to create a Lightroom-only workflow. The Local Hue Adjustment method is easier to setup, but I think that the LUT method produces superior colors. If you prefer a high-saturation style, try the Local Hue Adjustment. Here is a video that compares both methods.

What is a LUT?

LUT is short for Lookup Table. LUTs are used to transform the input color of an image into a different output color. LUTs are commonly used for color grading video, to create a stylize or cinematic look. For infrared, a LUT can be used to save a Photoshop adjustment layer into an enhanced profile. That’s essentially how this method uses LUTs.

Create DNG Image

You will need an image from your infrared camera in the digital negative (DNG) file format. The DNG file will be used to create a custom profile. If you already convert your images to DNG when you import them into Lightroom, you can skip this step.

  1. Open Lightroom.
  2. Select a raw infrared file in Library module.
  3. In the Library menu, select Convert Photo to DNG.
  4. Click OK button.
  5. Close Lightroom.

You can also create DNG files with the Adobe Digital Negative Convertor.

Create White Balance Profile

Since the white balance temperature slider in Lightroom does not provide the range we need for infrared, we will need a custom DNG Color Profile (*.dcp) to extend the range. These instructions will help you create your own profile.

Download my free Infrared Profile Pack to skip this step. The pack contains two profiles (Temp -50 and Temp -100) for over 100 cameras.

Note: I recommend creating profiles for both -50 and -100 temperature. These two profiles will cover a variety of infrared cut-off filters for most cameras.

  1. Download Adobe DNG Profile Editor for Windows or Mac.
  2. Open the DNG Profile Editor.
  3. Open a DNG Image.
  4. On the Color Table tab:
    • Ensure that Base Profile is set to Adobe Standard {camera model}.
    • Ensure that Color Table is set to 6500k.
  5. On the Color Matrices tab:
    • In the White Balance Calibration section, set Temperature to -100.
  6. On the Options tab:
    • Set Profile Name to Temp -100.
  7. In the File menu, select Export (camera name) profile.
    • Save profile to (hidden) CameraProfiles directory.
    • Windows: Paste the following path, replacing {user name} with your Windows user name.
      C:\Users\{user name}\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\CameraRaw\CameraProfiles
    • Mac: use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + G to display the Go to the folder dialog, then paste the following path.
      ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/CameraProfiles
  8. Close DNG Profile Editor, no need to save the recipe.

Create Channel Mixer LUT

Download my free Color Infrared LUT Pack to skip this step.

Next, you will need to create a LUT. A LUT is essentially a way to save a Photoshop adjustment layer. We will start with a LUT based on the Channel Mixer, swapping the red and blue channels.

  1. Open Photoshop.
  2. Open a DNG image, which will open Camera Raw.
  3. Click Open button.
  4. Add a Channel Mixer adjustment layer, by clicking on the half-filled circle at the bottom of the Layers panel and selecting Channel Mixer….
    • With Output Channel Red selected, set Red to 0% and Blue to 100%.
    • Select the Output Channel Blue, set Red to 100% and Blue to 0%.
  5. In the File menu, select Export, select Color Lookup Table.
    • Description: Channel Mixer
    • Quality: Medium (32 Grid Points)1
    • Format: CUBE
    • Click OK button.
    • Click Save button.
      • To Desktop
      • File Name: Channel Mixer.lut
      • This will create a file named Channel Mixer.CUBE on your desktop.

Create Invert LUT

Download my free Color Infrared LUT Pack to skip this step.

As an alternative to the Channel Mixer method of swapping colors, I like the Invert method. You can also create a LUT which uses the Invert adjustment layer.

  1. Using the image opened in the last section, delete the Channel Mixer adjustment Layer.
  2. Add an Invert adjustment layer, by clicking on the half-filled circle at the bottom of the Layers panel and select Invert.
  3. Change blend mode of the Invert adjustment layer to Color or Hue (both produce the same results).
  4. In the File menu, select Export, select Color Lookup Table.
    • Description: Invert
    • Quality: Medium (32 Grid Points) 1
    • Format: CUBE
    • Click OK button.
    • Click Save button.
      • To Desktop
      • Name: Invert
      • This will create a file named Invert.CUBE on your desktop.

Create Enhanced Profile

You have created custom DNG Color Profile (*.dcp) in order to improve the range of the white balance temperature slider. Then, you created LUTs (*.cube) to swap your colors. In this step, you will combine both of those into a single enhanced profile (*.xmp) for use in Lightroom or Camera Raw.

  1. In Photoshop, close any open images.
  2. Open a RAW/DNG image in ACR.
  3. Open Edit panel (keyboard shortcut: e)
    • Profile: Temp -100
    • White Balance: As Shot
  4. Open Presets panel (keyboard shortcut: Shift-P)
  5. Alt-click the New Preset icon at top of panel to open New Profile dialog. (This icon appears at the bottom of the Preset panel in older versions of Photoshop.)
    • Name: {camera name} IR Channel Mixer -100
    • Group: Create a new group named Infrared
    • Current Image Settings to Include:
      • Check - Camera Profile: "Temp -100"
      • Tone Map Strength: Low (Normal)2
      • Check - Color Lookup Table
        • Select LUT file: Channel Mixer.CUBE
        • Space: ProPhoto RGB3
        • Click OK button.
  6. Repeat to create the Invert profile.
  7. Alt-click New Preset icon at bottom of panel to open New Profile dialog
    • Name: {camera name} IR Invert -100
    • Group: Infrared
    • Current Image Settings to Include:
      • Check - Camera Profile: "Temp -100"
      • Tone Map Strength: Low (Normal)2
      • Check - Color Lookup Table
        • Select LUT file: Invert.CUBE
        • Space: ProPhoto RGB3
        • Click OK button.
  8. Repeat all of the above steps with the Temp -50 profile.

That’s it. Your new enhanced profile is now ready to use in Lightroom and Camera Raw.

Using Enhanced Profile in Lightroom

  1. Close and Open Lightroom or Lightroom Classic.
  2. Select any raw image created with the same camera as you have created a profile for.
  3. Open Profile Browser.
  4. Select your new enhanced profile.
  5. Set White Balance.

When using these profiles in Lightroom, the colors will be reversed with some tools, such as Tone Curve Channels, HSL, Calibration, and the Temp slider in Graduated/Radial/Brush filters. Colors in Color Grading/Split Toning tools are unaffected and work as expected.

Sync Profiles with Lightroom Mobile

  1. Open Lightroom (not Classic) on the desktop.
  2. In the File menu, select Import Profiles & Presets.
  3. Navigate to the (hidden) CameraRaw directory.
    • Windows: Paste the following path, replacing {user name} with your Windows user name.
      C:\Users\{user name}\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\CameraRaw\
    • Mac: Use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + G to display the Go to the folder dialog, then paste the following path.
      ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/
  4. Select the profiles. Be sure to include all of the profiles you created. The *.dcp files will be in the CameraProfiles directory. The *.xmp files will be in the Settings directory.
    • ../CameraProfiles/{camera name} Temp -100.dcp
    • ../CameraProfiles/{camera name} Temp -50.dcp
    • ../Settings/{camera name} Channel Mixer -100.xmp
    • ../Settings/{camera name} Invert -100.xmp
    • ../Settings/{camera name} Channel Mixer -50.xmp
    • ../Settings/{camera name} Invert -50.xmp
  5. Click Import button.
  6. Once sync is complete, open Lightroom on iPad and profiles will be available.

Enjoy!

Resources

Enhanced Profiles were introduced in Lightroom Classic CC 7.3, Lightroom CC 1.3, and Camera Raw 10.3. They are addressed in more depth in the Adobe Profiles SDK.

Updates

Updated 2021-06-09: Added additional call-outs and clarifications. Changed LUT Quality recommendation from High (64 grid points) to Medium (32 grid points) based on the limitation of enhanced profiles and my quality testing.1 Research on Tone Map Strength.2 Changed color space recommendation tp ProPhoto RGB.3

Updated 2020-12-09: Updated to clarify that LUT-based profiles are technically called “Enhanced Profiles” by Adobe. Added Resources section with link to Adobe (Enhanced) Profiles SDK.

Updated 2020-07-04: Updated to reflect that the Temp slider in Graduated/Radial/Brush filters is reversed when using this method.

Comments

If you have comments, questions or feedback, use the comment section for this video.


This page https://590.red/xmp


  1. Enhanced profiles support a sample size up to 32. A higher number of grid points in your LUT will increase the size of the LUT file, but not increase the quality of the final enhanced profile. My testing has shown no perceptible difference when using LUTs with a higher number of grid points.  2 3

  2. Recommend using Tone Map Strength Low (Normal) for most cases. Tone Map Strength Medium and High will flatten highlights and blacks slightly, reducing contrast. On HDR images, the effect is extreme, probably due to double tone mapping.  2 3

  3. Color space ProPhoto RGB offers the broadest range of colors and is used by the Lightroom Develop module for the highest quality. ProPhoto RGB is the preferred color space for profiles. Adobe RGB is a medium color space used by Lightroom in the Library, Map, Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web modules. Adobe RGB is also used by some print services. sRGB is a smaller color space commonly used by the web and social media. sRGB should be used as the final color space when exploring your images in JPG for sharing. Using sRGB earlier in your workflow will reduce the number of colors available.  2 3

Free eBook
Subscribe to Newsletter
LifePixel Infrared Camera Conversions