The Magical and Hard to Find Yashica “B” Blue Filter for TLR Cameras

About 4 or so years ago when I first starter trying my hand at black and white conversions in Lightroom, I discovered the blue filter preset that I absolutely loved to use for portraits. Granted, I had no idea what I was doing with editing back then, but at the time I thought that most of my images looked great as long as I slapped that blue filter preset on them (they really didn’t look that great). That made me go out and buy a cheap blue filter for my digital camera without having any idea of what real blue filters were used for historically in film photography. Needless to say, I was hugely disappointed when I pulled up the images I took with the blue filter on my computer and realized that most of them were sort of hazy/blurry, because that’s the effect that a real blue filter often has when used randomly on portraits. Frankly, I’m still annoyed that Lightroom has those presets that have no anchoring in reality, and that blue filter preset should really be called something else.

Fast forward a few years, and becoming the owner of a Yashica 635 TLR camera, I was determined to find a full set of color contrast filters for it. It peaked my interest in the blue filter again, partially because I wanted to learn how to take nice extra hazy photos of fog on black and white film with it, but partially also because according to the Yashica filter brochure, the Yashica “B” filter is specifically meant for black and white portraits shot under artificial light. After many months of searching for that “B” filter that I had elevated to the status of a magical unicorn since it was nowhere to be found, only written about, I finally saw one listed on Ebay. It cost me $35.00, which is way more than I would normally pay for a used filter, but I got it shipped to me all the way from Australia. I tried to get the blue color of the filter as close to its real color as possible on the photo below, just to show that it is actually a different shade of blue than most blue filters. It is lighter and also a bit more greenish than others.

yashica-b-blue-filter

And it didn’t disappoint. I’ve had a chance to use it only on one roll of film so far, and the photos are really nothing special, just quick snaps of my girls. But they show what is, to me, the best part of the filter – its ability to slightly lighten blue eyes, which can often end up looking pretty dark on black and white film, while not overly darkening any “red skin issues” which you would normally expect a blue filter to do – darken the reds and lighten the blues. It also doesn’t leave photos look hazy in the same way other blue filters tend to do. Calling it magical is probably a bit of an exaggeration, but Yashica definitely got it right with the shade of blue they used here, for it to be perfectly usable for portrait work.

(Yashica 635, Ilford HP5, developed in Ilford DD-X, pushed one stop)

yashica-b-blue-filter-1

(Yashica 635, Ilford HP5, developed in Ilford DD-X, pushed one stop)

yashica-b-blue-filter-2

One response to “The Magical and Hard to Find Yashica “B” Blue Filter for TLR Cameras

  1. Wonderful post. Excellent photography. Since I’ve started shooting black and white again I need to look at using filters. I’ve found that Yashica branded filters are in fact, “magical” in the sense that they are of high quality glass and hold up well over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

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