The Real McCoy & Only Butter is ButterSunday, July 16, 2017
My mother used the term “the Real McCoy” since I can remember. I am not sure that folks born in this 21st century would use the term or be familiar with it. Perhaps they might say, “the real thing.”
Or as in ads in that last century, “Only butter is butter.”
In my photographic life I have always attempted to be genuine and not to attempt to fool people with what or how I do stuff. I eschew all those social media photographs where people confess, “Captured without filters.”
For many years (1957-1967) I avoided the use of green, yellow or red filters when I shot with b+w film. My philosophy was that the filters would enhance reality and thus the new reality would be fake. But I found out that particularly yellow filters compensate for the fact that film (all film, colour, b+w, video and digital) is sensitive to ultraviolet light. Humans cannot discern UV. Thus a dramatic sky will be rendered less so by unfiltered b+w because the film’s sensitivity to blue will make the sky lighter. So clouds will not contrast as much. The yellow filter makes b+w film more like the human eye.
Some of us know that deep red filters on b+w film and b+w movie film (when underexposed) give us night for day in those Westerns with puffy clouds. The red filter at the opposite end of the spectrum (from blue) will become black.
And so I have used filters since.
The deep red filter is part of the package that we who used to shoot Kodak B+W Infrared Film (I still shoot it as I have many rolls of this discontinued film in the fridge). When you used the filter with the film you had the problem that anything red was rendered much lighter (good for removing blemishes or freckles from redheads) and lips looked ghostly. I learned to use purple or blue lipstick so that lips would look normal.
Another problem with the film is that you had to focus your lens and then go back to a little red mark on the lens (good lenses used to have the infrared mark). This is because the film’s sensitivity to red light focused at a different plain of focus.
Seen here are three photographs I took of the lovely Virve Reid (she looks like a blonde because she was a redhead, figure that one out!). I have for no good reason tinted the pictures green/yellow. Then there are two additional photographs taken with normal film (medium format). One of them I converted to fake infrared with the Corel Paintshop Pro XII Infrared Tool.
Is this the real McCoy? Is only butter butter?