03 Manual adjustments
I’ve circled these adjustments in the tools panel and, from top to bottom, this is what I’ve done and why.
I’ve pushed the Lighten Highlights slider to maximum to make the leaves on the tree really bright, and if you find this kind of adjustment makes the picture too bright or too dark overall you can try adjusting the Brightness slider – though I didn’t need to for this shot. My shot was now starting to look a little flat, so I’ve also pushed the Contrast slider up to maximum. This pushed the highlights over the edge so that they lost all detail, so I’ve pulled this back using the Highlights slider below.
The Shadows and Highlights sliders appear in all Color Efex Pro filters and they’re really useful for preserving detail at both extremes of the tonal range when you’ve applied strong effects.
While you’re doing all this, keep an eye on the Histogram display right at the bottom of the tools panel. I’ve juggled the tonal controls above so that the histogram just reaches the end of the scale – that means the highlights are as bright as possible but still show some detail.
Now you can stop here if you like because this effect looks good already. But I always associate infra-red with a soft-focus ‘glow’ effect, so I’m going to add another Color Efex Pro filter to take this picture just one step further.
04 Classical Soft Focus filter
The ability to combine filters was introduced with Color Efex Pro 4, and it makes a huge difference to the range of effects you can achieve. To add a new filter, click the ‘Add’ button (circled) underneath the current filter tool options, then select your filter from the left sidebar.
The one I want is the Classical Soft Focus filter, and you can see already that it’s added a soft ‘glow’ to the highlights.
05 Soft Focus adjustments
I’ve made some adjustments to get the ‘glow’ effect just right. Method 1 from the drop-down menu seemed to give the right sort of softness, and I’ve increased the Strength value to over 80% to make the effect more obvious. This did make the picture quite pale, so I’ve reduced the brightness value slightly.
I’m very close to the effect I want now, but some of the brightest areas in the picture are now blown out just a little too much…