Tadaa! Blue trees!

The hunt for blue trees is finally over. I thought for a long time that it was impossible to create an IR false color style that would bring out blue vegetation, straight out of the camera, and in such a way that the sky would also be blue and the rest of the scenery would appear (relatively) natural.

But it is possible. It depends on choosing the right filters. Here it takes a combination of two: one is the DB850 from Midwest Optics (“Midopt”), which passes the entire visible light spectrum plus IR from 850nm. On the other hand a pale orange filter from Lee, whose exact type I unfortunately don’t know right now.

How can this be? I use a swatch book from Lee Filters to find new styles. I take the thing apart, and often there are dozens of the filter sheets scattered on my table as I try to figure out the right one. And in this testing process, I’ve misplaced or mixed up the appropriate label with name and transmission curve.

But the right one is crucial. With others, some of the colors become quite different. Only this filter allows the accentuated blue trees, the blue sky and the general “natural” look.

But I will surely find out the name – sooner or later – and then post it here.

Anyway, I’m very happy with it – and I also love the contrast in the clouds that the filter teases out.

For me, some notes on settings and post-processing:

Custom white balance in camera, ideally with a white card. Increase color saturation and contrast a bit.

Then make a few small changes in the channel mixer in Adobe Photoshop to optimize contrast and colors:

Red: 100, 50, -50
Green: 0, 100, 0
Blue: -50, 50, 100

That’s all. This way you get photos in the following style:

Blue Trees IR

Blue Trees IR

Blue Trees IR


I’ve been trying adapt this technique to my canon 1200D camera. But there seem to be a big difference in color rendition. To get a blue color for foliage I have to use rose to pink gels, orangish gels give purple trees. Plus they have to be deep in color to properly work. I have seen on a facebook infrared photo group some exemple of blue trees SOOC (with everything else appearing in vivid natural colors) aparently with just a sepia filter, and nothing to filter out some of the IR. It is obvioulsy a brighter blue than what you have but the color diversity is comparable. The person that takes these pictures uses a Nikon as you do. I figured the nikon sensors might also be a key element for blue trees. Did you get interesting results using orange gels alone ?

I was afraid it would come out a little different with Canons. But I would be interested in your results. Have you posted them anywhere? And can you give me the link to the Nikon example? (I tried with sepia in all different variations too, but that didn’t work).

Only orange doesn’t work for me at all. Rather green (X1) in combination with an orange or brown gold variant. But nothing compared to DB850 + Dirty White. My suggestion to you: buy a Nikon D70, do the conversion yourself. It’s cheap and easy.

Thank you for the links! They still look good, just more purple than blue. Hmm… Just now it occurred to me that I rebuilt (and sold) a Canon DSLR last year. That was a Canon 1000D. And I remember trying the blue-trees-filter combo with that too – with the same results as with Nikon. Strange that it doesn’t work for you. The results with the sepia filter look interesting. Do you have more context of these images? Do you know what filter was used for them? I’m a little surprised (positively) by the colors.

I have a Canon 1000D as well and blue vegetation works much better with it. I have not yet tested the DB850 + gels on the 1000D but I got really good result with gels alone. For exemple with “CID to tungsten” :


Post processing was done from the Jpegs and consisted in enhancing contrast in lightroom to get the colors to shine out. Colors weren’t touched at all.

And for the Photos taken with the sepia filter, their author mentioned an Arsat sepia filter and using a nikon V1 full spectrum but I don’t know more. He posts on facebook in the “infrared images international” group as Gerry Tailor.

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