A Little (Yellow) Green Around the Gills

Why would I use coloured filters?! I have a digital camera and Lightroom... I can do it all in post! Yes, but you don't have to......

4 months ago

Latest Post Cross-processing Colour Film with Rodinal by Rob Kent
Hoya 52mm Yellow Green (X0) Filter

I've been doing this photography thing, at time of writing, for about a year now. I started out shooting digital on Olympus μ4/3s cameras, using all the aids of the modern photography world, and wondered why I would ever need anything else. Then one day I bought a Minolta 35-70mm zoom in a pawn shop ('cos it was cheap!), got an adapter and was introduced to the wonderful world of classic glass and manual focus. Then I bought a full frame digital camera and a load more classic glass. The I bought my first film camera. Then I bought a few more.

Now I find myself a year later not owning a single auto-focus camera or lens and having the (photography) time of my life. I've found I much prefer the manual approach to everything, to the point where I actually prefer shooting film over digital. I find this particularly true when it comes to editing my shots. I find I don't have much time and even less inclination to 'fix it in post'. I want to get as many shots straight-out-of-camera (SooC) as possible and, with that in mind, I was excited to find an article, 'How to get that “Fuji” JPEG look on your Sony Mirrorless Camera', that explained how to use the 'Picture Profile' functionality on my Sony Alpha7 Mk.II as a black and white film simulation. This profile gives a much more natural film look to my shots, less harsh and clinical than the black and white 'Creative Style' built in to the camera.

So, where do filters come in to all this? Well, now that I have my digital camera behaving something like film, I can take advantage of all the tricks and techniques that film photographers use. Black and white film responds to the most of the visual spectrum of light, so stopping specific colours effects the way it renders an image. I always have yellow and orange filters in my bag, for example, as these have the effect of increasing contrast, making cloudy skies look dramatic for example.

So, to the point of this post (finally!): I actually bought a job lot of 13 second hand 52mm Hoya filters a while ago just to get the Yellow and Orange and recently decided to find out what the rest are for. The first one I picked to try was the Yellow Green (X0). The description on the back of the box says:

Used primarily for black and white photography. X0 is highly effective for outdoor portraits because red is rendered dark while green appears lighter. Great for correcting skin tones, bringing out facial expressions in close-ups and emphasizing the feeling of liveliness.

So, I set my camera to use the black and white profile, bolted on a Nikon 135mm and ambushed Fynbaar for two shots; the first without a filter and the second with. You can compare the results below:

Other than the fact that Fynbaar moved between shots (I told him to stand still!) and the focus point shifted slightly, I think the effect of the filter is marked. The skin tone in the filtered image is much more natural and flattering, particularly considering the description states the effect is best in outdoor portraits and these images were taken indoors with LED light.

Below is a bonus shot, taken with the same lens/filter combination of our colleague Chris with a cable he stood on and broke!

"Ham-fisted Hobbit", Sony Alpha7 Mk.II, Nikon Nikkor-Q Auto 135mm f/3.5 @ f/3.5, 1/60s, ISO 320

I will certainly be continuing with this project and finding out what the rest of my filters are for. Watch this space...

Rob Kent

Published 4 months ago

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