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Can you really fake color infrared digitally? Do you really have a choice any more?
Kodak Professional High Speed Infrared (HIE) film was a high-speed color slide film with moderately high contrast and was sensitive to light and radiant energy to 900 nanometers (nm) in wavelength. But it's gone now.
So, have color infrared fans been left high and dry? Not completely. Read on.
The real deal: Kodak HIE film was useful for scientific, medical, aerial photography, or just for fun. This nature shot was made with HIE and looks like a fall image but the leaf was green. Image was shot through a Red (25A) filter using a Nikon film camera. Exposure unrecorded. ©1982 Joe Farace
Emulating an HIE effect in the digital darkroom, like all faux IR effects, is highly subject-dependent and while you can come close with some subject matter, others won’t work as well. My favorite tool for HIE emulation is Nik Color Efex Pro, an Adobe Photoshop-compatible plug-in that’s available in three filter collections including Standard, Select and the Complete Editions. No matter which Nik Color Efex Pro filter you choose, each of them adapts its effect based on the detail, structures, colors, and contrast range of a particular image.
The Nik of time! Nik Color Efex Pro filters also adapt to any previous filter adjustment or any other change made to the image to provide natural color or light enhancements. This feature is important since applying filters in a different order will provide you with more control as well as more options for great, natural photographic enhancements.
Joe Farace, co-founder of the League of Infrared Photographers, is the author of “The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography” published by Lark Books (ISBN 1579907725.) It’s available in all the best bookstores as well as Amazon.com.