A road from the end of a river until the shores of a sea – Ilo city.

Silhouette framed by a wave in turquoise

Silhouette framed by a wave in turquoise

Ilo city has its river. The place where it ends to blend soft and silently into the sea is called ‘mouth of the river” and it’s plenty of life. Birds are used to paparazzi, fishermen or just walkers so they aren’t shy of cameras. This place makes me remember those old illustrations of the limits of the universe (our planet) where it’s a flat surface with the sea ending in a border and wooden ships falling from it…

Bird’s eye view
Life in the border of the sea

Life in the border of the universe

Those are some birds I had never seen, but my knowledge in birds is so poor that I don’t even know the name of the ones I already saw, except a pair as the Peruvian Pelican.

White king and soldiers

White king with soldiers

The exiled

the exiled

It’s part of the nature of human to tend to think in animals as beings with human desires, as proof there are several religious stories, myths and fables. I cannot avoid to imagine stories. I wonder if they pay us with the same coin, cats seems to think that we’re their pets…

Free to fly

free to fly

Under the bridge

I photographed this place in August, in our winter; but that day the sky was blue and sunny, a little summer. The only signal betraying the winter was the yellow grass.

bridge over the end of the river

Bridge over the end of the river

There were rocks for foundations around it, I guess they are going to make a park or something, I guess it’s forbidden to build an edification in a so sensible area for the species. But sometimes there are people that says is poor and need the space (and when they’re investigated usually have even two properties…)

Survivor trcrawling to  the water

Survivor crawling to the water

stoned crowd

Stoned crowd

Shores painted with dinosaur eggs of several colors. Every time I see a river of tranquil waters I think it’s a little Ganges.

Mirror in blue

Mirror in blue

I can scape!

I can escape!

River vanishing in a sea of light

River vanishing in a sea of light

Ocean

So I walked the Ocean (not on it, along its shores I mean, otherwise I could start a new religion :P) That’s a story for another day but here there are some views just a meters close to the river:

Philosophical bottle

Philosophical bottle

Ship almost falling into the border of the world

Ship almost falling into the border of the world

Drinking an ocean

Drinking an ocean

Shapes and shadows of Santa Catalina…

Come in, I'll show you the bluest world possible

Come in, I’ll show you the bluest world possible

Weeks ago I had published some photographs in film about this monastery in a visit with my friend Melissa (they say this monastery is the biggest on the world, probably because it certainly is a small city)

I process my photographs to match what I see and what I feel, sometimes I’m driven by a certain color or meaning, shooting at the same time with film helped me to understand better the colors. I hope you enjoy the trip.

Built with blocks of blue sky

Built with blocks of blue sky

Some of the buildings have a blue so intense that even the sky with its intense blue of the desert can appear almost invisible.

Sometimes a heart of flowers can be harder to break than a chain of iron

Sometimes a heart of flowers can be harder to break than a chain of iron

I wonder if that heart is product of a sensible gardener, or just product of my imagination…

Head portrait

Head portrait

There is a trend to use HDR techniques in photographs; put it in a quite simple, and unfair because it can get nice and natural images, way it’s a technique to get the most of details in shadows and highlights. But I love deep shadows, and under the sun of the desert in Santa Catalina the shadows are almost solid, turning the architecture in a sort of old watch pointing the path of time in the slow procession of the shadows.

feline eye

Feline eye

A city without windows

A city without windows

It’s a crowded place with tourists, as I was in that moment, but being a city covering a large area there are always moments of ancient silence, that language that the ashlars of volcanic origin whisper after the heat of the day.

The photographs were shot in July, in winter; the season in the desert means clean blue skies.

If the ashes could talk...

If the ashes could talk…

I love kitchens, they are the place where a home has the strongest amount of familiar memories, conversations, moments, true life.

A red color trying to cross the blue wall

A red color trying to cross the blue wall

The photograph lines below is a place I’ve taken before so it could be familiar to you. But what I can say, I like it a lot and certainly to me it would be a wonderful place to read or just simply rest to the warm of the afternoon.

Enjoy the light and take a sit

Enjoy the light and take a sit

volumes and shapes of santa catalina

Volumes and shapes of Santa Catalina

blue and white

Blue and white

And that’s all, in a certain way it’s a sort of street photography of a city whose life now endures in a little (although quite comfortable and modern) corner. Although that’s good, I think it was a sad destiny to be in such a beautiful place but not by choice but for the cruel rules of tradition. In colonial times rich families used to send one daughter to buy influence from church. Now fortunately seems that heaven doesn’t need money ;-)

Remembering a time when it had fire

Remembering a time when it had fire

Vindication of selfies

Morning light

morning light

Navigating the Internet is unavoidable to find in comments (and sometimes in articles) people against food and cat photographs and selfies. I don’t know how those comments show the commenters themselves as more intelligent people but certainly they appear to be angry.

Making plans...

making plans

There are some arguments that I find inaccurate: “These last generations are narcissist in comparison to the older ones.” Wrong, I remember when kid my family always wanted a memory of special moments to us or be remembered in a specific time of our ages, it was simply way more complicated with film and expensive labs. Actually is still complicated to shot with film cameras.

Waiting to finish the work

waiting to finish the work

Others say “It’s a phenomenon due to social media.” I don’t think so, the most of photographs I take about me aren’t to share, but to control my health and a time ago to share with a lady, but to be the center of a social media, nope. And certainly in some occasion that could be a legitimate reason I guess if the image is important in work or social context. In social media they say it’s correlated with lack of friends but that’s so wrong… I don’t have friends to take pictures of me, I have them to talk or trust, not to be a kind of photographer. I think perhaps that’s a prejudice of Christians, in some way I understand to them a selfie could be a signal of pride and against their principle of humbleness so if another people make the click it’s not going to be felt as vanity or something. I don’t think there is a sin in ourselves, and if a religion says that then it’s negating the oeuvre of the creator of their thoughts for the prejudices of the intermediaries.

I remember in the eighties there were terrorists in my country, they tried to force us to do what they wanted (while their leaders were rich people that didn’t follow their rules). Since then I dislike every person that tries to say to other one how to life his/her own life. My first argument in favor of selfies would be that everybody is free to make what makes them happier -_^

You in this moment

you right now reading this post :D

hmm?

hmm?
About cultural identity

Yesterday I entered a chat to know about a friend in Mexico, I heard bad news about hurricane Patricia where she lives, but there wasn’t luck… While I was waiting a guy from the south of Spain talked to me (I guess a guy) and he asked me, as I had told before that I’m Aymara, the following: “Please teach me about the magic Aymara people used to build Machu Picchu.”

Magic… I told him the truth: we used science. So he begun to ask me questions about my culture but every question was referred to magic and the age of Aquarius… After a long conversation to me was clear that he had a romantic idea about us and actually it’s not so different about what tourists think about us.

Here are some myths I have discovered around the years:

  • The poorer we are the happier we are and worthy of admiration.

False, money has nothing to do with happiness: if you are rich that doesn’t mean you cannot be happy, and if you are poor then that doesn’t mean you are going to be happy. To me happiness is a consequence when we experiment something we like, it’s not a reward. I think Christians have this sense of guilt about happiness that in the last books of bible likes to give as a reward to poor people and says to them that rich men cannot reach.

It’s not worthy of admiration because people so many times has no choice about being poor. I think a rich person that renounce to fortunes for a dream certainly is worthy of admiration because is a hard decision, but not a person that is it because has born in a poor context.

One of the horrible things about tourism (Europeans, Americans, National tourists) is the attraction they feel to photograph dirty children in the streets. Guess what: their parents don’t care their skins or wash them because they know tourists are going to pay money for that “authentic” postcard.

An ascetic deserves respect of all us, poverty just for the fact to be born poor: not.

  • We are forbidden to have gadgets except the ones used by your grandparents

Sometimes I read in travel blogs about the disappointing to see villagers with TV’s. Apparently we are authorized to use just old AM radios with the obligatory two fat batteries. Why we have to renounce to live in an interconnected world? I think if I use my laptop that doesn’t change the fact that I’m Aymara it just makes me an Aymara that uses a laptop. Is that so negative? This extends to malls and fast food enterprises too. I don’t understand that fear to McDonalds or stores, actually they help buying our native products and we go if we chose, in the end it just complete our culture. Since kid I remember Coke Cola sponsors our traditional parties.

  • Our monuments and music serves for meditation and spirituality

Everybody has right to their beliefs so I’m not against them. But I have noted several people that comes to:

  1. Consume drugs to get mystic travels. That’s a part of our culture but it was just a part, the same way I don’t believe that everybody in Europe reads tarot.
  2. Perform oriental meditation. It’s a new age deformation I guess, the beliefs of the Aquarius age.  I went three times to Machu Picchu and it seems I saw in each time a different person meditating. Sorry to say but Machu Picchu was more the palace of an Inca and apparently a place to extend the frontiers inside the jungle, in a certain way is like tourists could go to the White House to perform yoga… I think people forget the Inca Empire was as every other empire, we had ascetics, but also (equivalents of) teachers, historians, scientists, spies, diplomatics, businessmen, etcetera.
  3. New age and Aquarius age. those beliefs has nothing to do with us, our main constellation is the Chakana (known by you as Southern Cross) the Zodiac symbols are imported and has nothing to do with our sky and beliefs. Even more, that is used by people to get your dollars or euros (or soles as people from the capital likes that too as they imitate everybody that is fashion in Europe) because that’s what certain tourists want to live. Sadly that new age music and those theories were never part of us.
  4. Hear our music. Sadly after the Spanish invasion our music was lost, only the religious music survived, it’s similar to imagine a catastrophe in Europe and every masterpiece of Beethoven, Mozart et al had been lost and just had remain the “Amen” in churches.
  5. Try our traditional medicine. Actually in Peru there are two obsessions: try everything that ruins your health and try everything that recovers your health. So our traditional medicine is more a signal of our bad habits, if you walk around you are going to see people usually is so short and don’t have a culture of body care.
  • The culture only survives in the countryside

That’s so sad. It seems people think that if you live in a city you are already a westerner and if you don’t “act” like that then you should go “back” to the countryside. Sadly the evidence shows that we had always more cities than the ones founded by Spaniards, and the capital had several times the size of the European capitals.

  • We all are Indians .-.

Sure?, not, really, Are you sure .-.? I was reading  this tittle “Aymara Indian Perspectives on Development in the Andes” of course I think it seems a valuable text and in our culture we never get offended if things are with good intention but I’M NOT AN INDIAN. I’m an Aymara and nothing more. The same way you’re a French or German. Let’s try what happens if I write:

“After a travel to Europe it’s a shame that French Indians have lost their identity, I saw several young men using jeans and loafers, even is sad the damage Peru has made to their culture because they use our potatoes instead of their local native cuisine; after that I saw German Indians and with such a pity I have to say that they’re a fake culture, victims of cell phones, credit cards and others modern inventions they aren’t anymore a real culture but a group without identity. Goethe would cry to see his culture ruined by the modern world, I feel cheated because I wanted to find real culture and not people with TV’s in their bedrooms.”

  • What books say about us is the truth

Bad news: actually the things you believe to know about us is an image given to Europeans so they could understand something of our thoughts. Inversely we couldn’t understand their gods that were three and one at the same time and that lack of happiness. In our beliefs there aren’t equivalents of Thor, Yahve, Odin, et al, also there aren’t demons. Spaniards thought our Supay was the demon but it was just the way we called the nature when it was stronger.

The myth of creation that Spaniards read also are versions because they couldn’t accept a world without Jesus or where the woman has the same value as the man and could be general or high leader if she was capable.

  • We are like kids

I’ve seen several times that thought, there is no equalitarian principle. If people among us commit a crime sometimes people from the capital don’t apply the law saying it was because our philosophy (LMAO!) and also tourists justify the violence in our society as if we shouldn’t follow the same rules. Once a German blogger friend said me that I couldn’t judge my culture, I don’t know why he can judge his culture, perhaps it’s this myth of the good savage and that nonsense of traditions.

What I try to say

Our tradition is the innovation. Get stuck in the past is for narrow minded people. I studied the history of our civilizations and they developed innovating and evolving, never following traditions because that means being stubborn in don’t change despite the advance of thoughts and knowledge, we cannot ignore the world.

We are like everybody: we grew up seeing Dragon Ball; wishing our classmates would be as sexy as Kylie Minogue :P, watching Hollywood and Bollywood movies; appreciating well made shoes; wanting to practice Kung fu; playing football… I don’t know, sometimes it seems we are only allowed to be poor and dance with a smile for tourists. I’m happy that tourists find ugly my city.

(Post-Data: the photograph is a metallic fountain in the plaza of Tacna city, made by the studio of Eiffel)

Late afternoon in the market

 

Late afternoon in the market

In Juliaca there are different types of market:

  • There are the new malls where people likes to buy and walk with their children, I don’t like them because you need to wait in long queues and even worse for your privacy cashiers ask for your ID or cards
  • There are the older markets as pictured in the photograph, this is called Santa Bárbara and I think it could be really ancient, I mean as several centuries long. In the highlands there aren’t fruits (remember we’re at more than 3800 meters/12000 feet) but the jungle is near so we eat fruits from the whole Peru and the jungle, the problem with these markets is that the sellers want you to be loyal to their stands and they can be a bit jealous if you buy from another person.
  • The last type is my favorite, usually it’s in fairs with peasants or people from smaller cities as sellers, they have the products over a textile in the ground and they are indifferent to you until you ask or buy. Until then you’re comfortably invisible.

Once I posted big and super red apples, I bought them from one fair, probably in the market they could have cost a lot.

A vast whiteness closing around the world

A vast whiteness closing around the world

Since I was a kid, four years old, I always have seen strange and little people in the countryside; as always I’m just playing and running and suddenly appears this little sir or lady, I start to talk but then just see with their old eyes. Curiously that just happened when I was alone. Since then I almost think that citizens and peasants live in different worlds, they cannot see us or perhaps we exist in an inevitable way like the early star at twilight of the cloud traveling lazily across the blue. And to us they are like persons always walking the infinite landscape, staring to who knows what, like they were three hundred years old and still had eight thousand years more to contemplate the slow life in middle of the domesticated nature.

The frontier were our worlds collide and we actually talk is the market.

Juliaca A – Life in a city close to sky.

Building in middle of heaven

building in middle of heaven

Juliaca is my city, the place where I born and the place that define part of who I am. I want to dedicate this post to my friend Dan in the far Romania for whom I hope this can show a bit of what probably is an exotic city even in Peru.

Our city is at 3825 meters above sea level (12,549 ft.) in the Andean plateau, in a region near Bolivia and the old lake Titicaca. Among the several civilizations coming from the deserts of the coast, the highlands and the jungles the main and more numerous are the Aymara (my group), the Quechua and the Westerners from the coast. If I had to abstract the city it could have the following parts.

The heart: Apu Huaynarroque
before the dances

before the dances

Can you see the almost triangular hill? That’s the Apu (sacred hill) Huaynarroque. This is the heart of the city for at least three thousand years. Probably the name was originally Xullaca or Hullaqa with the meaning now long time ago forgotten. We were a city usually under the domain of several Empires and Kingdoms, first Uros civilizations, after that Aymaras Empires, Kingdoms of Collas and Lupaqas, the Inca Empire, after that the invasion of Spain that couldn’t erase us, after the independence we still grew and with the arrive of the train the city recovered the richness of old times with trade.

But the connection across those ages always was and is the Apu Huaynarroque, the sacred hill with two peaks because the unity has inside symmetries, one, two, three, until seven symmetries…

morning upon the apu

morning upon the apu

With Spaniards came the Roman church, with their figures of a Christ with blood and suffering, their divinities saying that the guilt is genetic and the pleasure is forbidden until the afterlife. So different to our religions where life is enjoyed and we say thanks to the Earth and to Sky and everything is connected and we are made to be happy. So Spaniards imposed a big cross in the top of our Apu and centuries after when Spaniards were just in History books their descendants made a sculpture of Christ, a big one in the top of the sacred hill.

praying to the image and praying to the clouds

Praying to the image and praying to the clouds

I went there several times, once per week, but not for the sculpture but because the hill. There are always two or three persons praying. I go because the sky looks even closer to us.

Apu's shadow

Apu’s shadow

The shadow over the city…

Spectacles of light

spectacles of light

party time in the sky

Party time in the sky (published before)

Being the most sacred place this is where the most important parties for our civilizations always occurs. Our muted colors are dressed with intense colors. But my favorite ones are the colors of sky at dusk.

a warm farewell

a warm farewell

The muscle: Trading
See! a fair deal, lady

see! a fair deal, lady

Everybody in Juliaca works trading because we are connected with the coast the jungle and near countries, so people sells hundreds of varieties of potatos, corn, exotic fruits and animals from the jungle, fish from the lake Titicaca and the sea, fine clothes from Bolivia and made in the old cities, laptops, photographic cameras and products from the black market that are impossible to get even in the capital. Sadly there is this side of the illegal trading too, in part because the State (except the tax office that is the only efficient organism) is a distant rumor: we are not only in the geographic frontier but in a social frontier. Everything works like in a parallel side without government.

In the streets and public parties there are always people selling food:

stop a moment

stop a moment

Trucks stop in middle of their long travels to sell fruits like pineapples or in this case bricks:

every brick a piece of a desire

every brick a piece of desire

And the night is illuminated by business and street sellers in extensive sectors of the city:

spectacular sky

spectacular sky

Since the origin of the city thousands of years ago until our modern days we always have preferred as a symbol of status products of brilliant colors, usually in our historical tricycles:

choose your color

choose your color

And frequently we see new ways to sell, as these news seller traveling the city:

morning news

morning news

The blood: Transport systems
HPIM4006_DxO-XL

ephemeral heart (previously published)

The train is what made the explosive growth of Juliaca possible. The English engineers came and go and after them at the beginnings of Twentieth century Italians came and developed the trading of Alpaca wool, recovering something of our previous richness, according to colonial documents after the Spanish invasion some particulars could have 20, 000 heads of Alpaca livestock. The train connect us with Cusco and Arequipa, still is used by tourists but mostly for enterprises.

Also we have an international airport so our sky also is filled with the noise of planes and some times the fighters of the Air Force:

across the blue

across the blue

Bicycles still are widely used, specially in the corners of the city, but cars are being seen as more prestigious:

a hat for a hat

a hat for a hat

Motorbikes and modified motorcycles are gaining much popularity because the city with near a quarter of million of population is quite big for use the old tricycles:

morning in the plaza

morning in the plaza

race

race

red city

red city

Aguayos, they are textiles where ladies carry merchandise or babies in their back, it’s my favorite way of transport (but I’m not a baby anymore hehe) and the patterns indicate the city and region where it was woven, they are in the places of the Inca Empire but in Juliaca still you can see more than other cities:

Red will

red will

But the pillar in our city is the tricycle, the city surrounding the Apu actually is a flat surface so they don’t require a big effort. In the beginning they were used mostly to move merchandise but they evolved so they could take passengers, I like much more to use tricycles than closed cars or mototaxis. It feels to me so free and noble to be moved with the force of a human being.

you can't take me to where I'm going to go

you can’t take me to where I’m going to go

I know that it’s not the best of the photographs (I was trying instead to portrait the lady and her shadow) but it’s just an introduction to the following post in the following weeks.

***

A little rant

Usually to westerners (and not just the foreign visitors that need to travel to Bolivia, Cusco or Arequipa but also Peruvians from the coast) Juliaca has the fame of an ugly city. Actually it’s not a touristic city, we are forgotten by the governments because we are seen as wild natives, and a big percentage of population came recently from the countryside without knowing that the city is different creature to their communities in the nature (for example they drop garbage to the street thinking it as an “outside”), so the city grew without urban planning and without professionals to educate. But there is the mistake to consider us as a kind of inferior people. With education we can reach high levels as any human on the Earth. But prejudices win and we, once a high culture with interest in genetics, continental trading, mystic philosophy and a diverse society, are considered like wild people that should be banned to another country, the city nuked and replaced by the noble and Westerner culture from the coast… while they respect and worship their robbers and dangerous people as heroes just because they are Westerners as well (in USA it could be similar perhaps to gangsta music I guess, I hear it but I don’t share the message in those songs of inevitable fate for born in a specific place)

Fortunately we don’t have two plagues:

  • American, European or government “help” in the form of donations that turn the towns around us in pools of poverty because people find easier to find an excuse to survive without work (for example they sell the jackets donated to them in winter) and no one reason to get education.
  • Tourism: tourists want to experience the “real” life so we should use our party clothes every day, we should just live in adobe homes (and not from the Imperial style but that Spanish kind that wasn’t appropriate to us for climate differences) and we shouldn’t have TV’s, tablets or cell phones with touchscreens and if we don’t take a shower the better because that way we look darker and wilder to the lenses of the photographers (as the guys that come from the capital) so they can appear as sensible people touched by the poverty (LMAO!).

If those two plagues had been in my city instead of a person capable to understand you dear reader I had been a young man asking you one dollar to survive with a disguise living in the worst conditions. For that reason every time when I read in internet travelers about the ugliness of our city (and I respect the right to say that because it’s the truth) I always feel the need to explain why my city, and I’m proud of it, is ugly, I’m not to alter the post to show it as a beautiful city, it’s not, but also I’m going to show that there are nice places too. And I hope to give an answer to the occasional reader that could come looking for data :-)

But until then a piece of beauty from my parents’ garden ;-)

A rose above the clouds

a rose above the clouds

Succa Aya – Memories from the countryside

long afternoon

long afternoon…

In quechua language Succa Aya means “Field of Sepultures”

The pre-Inca cemeteries are memories from the past, today it’s a district of Arequipa city and the name changed to Socabaya. Today I want to show you some views of these place ;-)

A road in middle of the fields
Tell me where can I go to

tell me where can I go to…

 

I had a customer there, so I needed to go several times to see his property. There is no many people walking the road, usually just the road… I walked several times those distances filled of farms, giant towers of high voltage and plenty of solitude, with that slow time until I decided to take the public transportation to my lair in that city. This is what I used to saw:

At day…
White ashlars

white ashlars

The white ashlar in Arequipa has volcanic origin, it is used from to delimit the farms to built palaces and banks, actually to cover them, in a seismic place is not good idea to have massive buildings.

Mathematical hill

mathematical hill

Try to cross

try to cross

Some trees…

Halloween

This is Halloween, this is Halloween ♪♫

At the end the light

at the end the light

And some horses…

meditative houyhnhnm

Meditative Houyhnhnm (published before, shot with a defective film camera)

Head of horse

Head of horse

Before the night…
Another day ends in the green countryside

Another day ends in the green countryside

Socabaya or Succa Aya is relatively far from the center of the city, so to go there I needed at least one hour and half of travel for the price of, in equivalence, thirty cents of US dollars. So it was not infrequent to end in middle of the sunset, always hidden behind the hills. But it’s a quite calm place to walk, and there is no more the heat of the day…

Line of gold

Line of gold

2D Tower

2D Tower (published before)

Alone in the dusk the light starts its electrical song

Alone in the dusk the light starts its electrical song

The faraway lights

The faraway lights

Beyond the farms…

light my fire

light my fire

The district is bigger than the farms, there are places with houses of low and middle social-economic levels mixed with industries, so it’s not so peaceful as the farms habited by traditional families. They come usually from smaller cities and near is the penitentiary so it’s not so safe. In the public transport I’ve seen relatives of the inmates, sometimes they are dangerous too.

cusqueña

Cusqueña (published before, shot with a defective film camera)

Point of energy

Point of energy

So the landscape is a bit desolated, with stray dogs silently walking and warden dogs barking the strangers (what includes me); dust and a desert without vegetation being replaced constantly by a desert of bricks. But the sunset also comes to give a bit of color to this part of the city:

Colony in Mars

Colony in Mars

Night

The day ends and the nocturnal life starts… But usually I was already in home given my report to my customer, but I got a pair of shots ;-)

Blue night

Blue night

Searching in the stars

Searching in the stars

Fujifilm X-E1 camera and Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4R – 2015 Review

fujifilm x-e1

 

This camera and lens combo is no longer in my possession so I thought today would be a nice day to share thoughts about it. As always this is an independent review, I’m not related to Fujifilm and the camera and lens were purchased with my Peruvian soles (our currency is the Sun)

The purchase

cheers

 

Someday I was walking the streets of Juliaca and I saw this camera among others, people that buys a camera here usually simply buy Canon or Nikon because they are seen in hands of professionals on TV, I don’t think we have a lot of sport photographers to require the autofocus speed of a DSLR… so this Fujifilm was alone and unnoticed. I simulated ignorance and asked if that was a film camera (hehe) and the seller seeing that he could sell that camera that nobody wanted was quickly to show me it was a digital camera with interchangeable lenses, I said “oh, what a pity, I just want a little plastic one with super zoom” (huehuehue) so he gave up and told me a great price for both. I went for a bit of money and we made the challaqui to finish the purchase. Challaqui is when we celebrate a happy business or event, we drink something like beer, wine or our local chicha and before to drink a glass we spill first a bit in the ground to say thanks to the Pachamama (mother Earth) For that the picture with the beer ;-)

Technical Data
fujifilm-x-e1-wep-auto-telon-135mm-128-fd-mount-and-sony-vct-r100-tripod

Fujifilm X-E1 with three axis bubble level, and wep auto telon 135mm FD mount lens mounted in Sony VCT-R100 tripod.

The camera is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera made in 2012 with an APS-C sensor and the fujinon XF 35mm F1.4R is a lens in term of what is called today a full frame camera equivalent approximately to a 50mm lens. It has the shape of an old rangefinder camera, usually people thinks it’s a film camera. It has a solid construction and perhaps the only detail is the paint of the exposed metal in the corners tend to wear out a bit. It’s a small grip that is enough if you have lenses of moderate size. The fujinon XF 35mm F1.4r is perfect match IMHO. The shape to me is elegant and modern.

In my experience the only downsides where the abundance of buttons but not for the basic functions, an ISO and a white balance button would be very welcome instead of several of them. Also I love to change the focus button with a joystick so I hadn’t much love to the X-E1 way to select a menu and after that move the directional buttons, a joystick would be a giant pleasure. Despite the related shape of the camera with a film one the necessity to go to menus made it a bit digital in the sense to be a bit slow to operate in comparison to other cameras. I understand with newer models the experience is better. But… Is it enough to don’t buy it? My answer: absolutely no! it’s a great tool capable to render amazing image quality to your images, if you don’t get good photographs is because you need to give you a bit of time to understand a machine that has only the necessary and nothing of “smile mode” “sport mode” or others presets in compact cameras. The screen is fixed what is a shame because it makes harder to get shots of flowers, children, or in places where only your hand can reach, a way to get a solution is buying a FlipBac angle viewfinder, basically a mirror attached to the screen, and problem solved!

The software and hardware, save the omission of ISO and WB button, is centered to work setting the aperture of the lens and the shutter in the dial, you can set one or both in “A” mode so you can get any combination between totally manual and totally automatic. With those conditions this camera is going to shine if you know at least a bit about the function of a camera and lens. With the fujinon XF 35mm F1.4R you have an aperture of 1.4 with which you can get a great amount of bokeh if that is your preference, I preferred instead the use at night so I wouldn’t need to raise the ISO and get cleaner image in relation to noise. The lens is a metal beauty. The manual ring was the only thing I wasn’t totally convinced in comparison to a real manual (not by wire) ring of lenses of yore the feedback was a bit strange but enough to work.

Well that’s a resume about the multiple characteristics. Let’s see some pics :P!!!

Characteristics

Colors

bit by bit you grow in my grey world

 

The camera tends to convert the reds in oranges and the blues in cyan; this because in part it can’t cope with those highlights in artificial lights and in part because it seems that the color scheme change a bit the hue of the blue color. A way to mitigate it (if you prefer a more realistic rendering) is to shot in RAW+JPEG and set the JPEG file in the list of film simulations to “Pro Neg. Hi” as a reference and change in your RAW file the blue color to avoid the cyan rendering and reduce a bit the luminosity of the red color. The photographs here were edited using PhotoNinja software so aren’t direct from the camera, I rarely use the straight image but if you just shot JPEG you can trust that programming to your taste the camera is going to give you great photographs too. I use RAW more fore a personal way to work my images.

Happy colors

Gorgeous doll (detail)

didyaseedat hat

Black and White

collector

The camera has presets to shot directly into black and white. I think is easier to shot in color and modify after it, but if you shot in RAW+jpeg the raw image is going to be always in color. With this camera it was easier to me get nice black and whites what is a lot to say because I’m not so much experienced in it. The lens is quite sharp and the camera resolve quite well the details.

click

una mancha blanca

Street photography

the crowded night falling upon Juliaca

Cameras with interchangeable lenses have this thing about the shutter sound, they’re noisy guys that yells to the others you are taking pictures. Despite that the X-E1 has a shutter sound barely audible in crowded places, probably you are going to be the only one to hear it. The resolving power of the lens also helps you to crop with a comfortable freedom so you can take from a certain distance. In those situations a tiltable screen is very welcome so why I bought the FlicBac angle viewfinder. I like to show the life of the city, not to invade the privacy of individuals, for that reason also I post photos of myself.

artificial moon

is there a problem

Landscape

inverted sea

I read in some places that for landscape this camera cannot render well, specially vegetation, I cannot notice it neither OCC JPEGs nor in my RAWs processed with Photo Ninja. The detail is great thanks to a super lens that doesn’t need digital corrections and the files can be manipulated without problems, that’s a great characteristic in these times when even companies like Leica rely in digital corrections. As always you have to remember that my point of view is amateur, I’m not a professional, I don’t print for galleries.

Usually a classic lens (in equivalence the fujinon is in the practice a 50mm lens) isn’t considered a landscape lens, when I needed a wide angle of view I simply stitch. You can see my ICE review here.

geometrical dusk

echoes

it's cold perhaps a hug

s way

Low light

field of leaves battle

The photograph above was shot when the twilight was almost finishing, the fujinon at F1.4 allow you to shot without rise so much the ISO, and the big sensor of the camera allow you to shot beyond the base ISO without introduce disgusting noise. There is noise but it’s not disturbing nor obtrusive. This combo gets you opportunities to shot at night and even get stars. To me that’s important because when you live at 3800 meters above sea level (13 000 ft. aprox.) you want a camera that can see the stars as you see with your eyes.

young happiness

so many stars

Bokeh

sony R1 and three axis bubble level

I’m not very fond in the photographs with excessive bokeh, but I find quite pleasant the one in the XF 35mm, and at 1.4 it can get you enough defocus to play.

rain of light
le jardin des lumires artificielles

cold and warm sides

into the cold a warm color

By the way, I tried to adapt a telephoto lens, but in the end much better was to use the XF 35mm and crop the image.

CONCLUSIONS
Pros
  • Extraordinary quality at a relatively low price thanks to the newer models (but the lens still holds its value)
  • Multiple options to program the camera so you are going to obtain your ideal output.
  • Compact combo. It’s very comfortable to carry.
  • Discrete shutter sound in street.
  • People don’t feel intimidated by this camera because it has a familiar look.
  • It looks like a camera, it seems strange but I loved the design so to me it’s a pro.
  • The lens doesn’t rely in digital corrections, but it’s optically corrected, so you can use any RAW converter without the need of built-in profiles.
  • Flexible RAW files, you can edit with freedom and the files still look natural.
  • Versatile camera, it works well in several types of photography.
  • Excellent high ISO rendering and the noise looks natural.
  • Nice black and whites.
  • Did I already say excellent image quality?
Cons
  • Sometimes slow autofocus, mostly at low light, in that case rely in manual focus.
  • The screen is not tiltable, you can correct with a FlicBac angle viewfinder.
  • The white balance tend to be a bit in the cold side, but could be that my screen is not totally calibrated.
  • Electric reds tend to orange and blue skies can look cyan.
  • So much buttons doing nothing important (lack of WB and ISO buttons)
  • The tripod socket is not centered with the lens axis.
  • The lens is a bit noisy when it’s getting focus.
  • It’s not to photograph running kids.
  • The digital level is slow, better mount a three axis bubble level in the hot shoe ;-)

Verdict

Fabulous camera and a lens that IMHO could be a classic. I haven’t studied photography and if I could get the photographs you see in this publication then you can as well. I think it gave me photographs I couldn’t have done with my current equipment, not so easily anyway. Of course there are some compromises, specially referent to shot quicker, but the photographs you can make with this camera and lens are wonderful and considering the price you can find in places with ebay (always verify the reputation of the sellers there) it’s quite a nice camera. The lens is more expensive but it’s a marvelous lens.

Highly recommended!

Topography in blue

Topography in blue

Traditions and authenticity

Now that I made a temporary come back to books, music and movies I’m remembering which ones I’ve already read, heard or saw taking advantage of the Facebook (for security reasons I don’t share it) utility to add lists of interests… For now I’m around 728 movies, 226 groups of music and musicians, 178 TV series, 356 books of literature, history, philosophy, arts, architecture, etcetera, and near one hundred artists (they’re mixed with several likes…)  and the list is growing… so many things I’ve seen… to me it’s almost like I had spend my life in objects that sometimes are repetitive. I know that that number just says the number of my ignorance but also I think life is so short to spend in the creations of others instead to create what our self wants to say. So I’m more focused in build my own art and knowledge, at least these moths.

I add a book or movie or musician when I remember them, among the movies today I remembered one of the most powerful and emotional I saw in my whole life, Le Grand Bleu by Luc Besson. I don’t know what say the critics, I think much more important is what do you feel so I can say that when kid it was a giant touching movie. It starts near my home, in the lake Titicaca, a free diver exploring the lake in a way I would be afraid to do because the cold waters I know (every time I go there I’m afraid to fall to the deep waters…) and it was like that gentleman was truly much more native than me, a six years old kid. Since then I loved that spirit of freedom in the waters I saw in the film, the two competitors were around the world in a competition that also was a competition against death and their will was so powerful that they could felt the sea and the lakes as a kind of true home…

What brings me to being a native… I think native is not and issue of race, more it’s about a feeling. I feel myself for example closer to Borges, I think he’s a true American man, because I understand him when he talks about the infinite horizon of his dear pampa, and that sentiment that makes him say that he feels Buenos Aires like a place that hadn’t foundation because he feels it eternal. Instead other authors, that I admire, like Vargas Llosa or García Márquez are to me actually Europeans living in America, because every time they speak about the jungle or the highlands they write about it like a mystery just natives known, and is evident that their traditions corresponds to a certain nostalgia of Europe.

Instead I’m against traditions. My definition of tradition is just the laziness to don’t think to just follow conventions based in another ways of life. Yes, I heal my wounds with special earths I select; yes, I can read the eyes; yes, I pay to the Earth and climb the hill when it’s needed; yes, I follow the ancient etiquettes; yes, I know to read the signs in the sky and seeing above my city the clouds I know how is the weather in far cities in other countries like La Paz or the cities in the desert of the coast. But those are parts of my culture I chose to follow, I don’t follow traditions that I consider should be learned just to don’t be made again, for example the tradition of peasants to kill our endangered species as our rare native cats, our Pumas, even when child we were taught to kill toads with stones, I dislike that because I don’t see the merit to take lives when in our modern world we could put special fences to avoid the pumas and instead to kill our rare wild native cats we should use modern breeding technics and adequate building spaces. An animal shouldn’t pay for the ignorance of a human.

I don’t follow the tradition to follow rules and just get stuck in the inadequate adobe house, I follow the Incan tradition haunted but knowledge. The genetic investigation was triggered by the regular “el niño” (the warming of the Ocean that brings periods of excessive rains in some places and droughts in others) so our ancestors developed in kind of laboratories thousands of vegetable species resistant to the weather, architectonic systems to fight the desert and the earthquakes, urban and regional organization so the Empire would be connected across their thousands of rich cities. I know there is a romantic idea that we were like some kind of hippies (nothing against them btw) or a wild civilization visited by aliens (lol) but the reality was, is, more complex. I’m against that vision tourists have, even national tourists, that we should be in poverty to conserve that “traditions” so we still should use clothes made for Spanish peasants and to live in homes without services, internet and TV’s are a sin it seems because that “fakes” us XD The time advances, I want to have the comfort of tomorrow and I design according that, my last designs implies in the technical side a hybrid solar/public-electric system and in the architectonic side it’s the mirror of a electrical engineer.

Returning to the beginning that’s the reason I felt so connected with the characters of that movie… I could sense a kind of brotherhood in the man diving the Titicaca… being native doesn’t mean to have a race or following without thinking archaic traditions; but to have a bond, like Borges had, with your earth and sky and city. Feel that your place perhaps couldn’t have a foundation date but it is with your spirit an eternity along.