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


Leave a Reply