Stellar jewels – And a review about photographic sites

Stellar jewels

There was a marvelous view of the coast at sunrise in Ilo city, I hadn’t my camera so I grabbed my old cell phone with two megapixels, I edited the picture in the app for tablets Snapseed and got the quality of the soft light reaching the shores while they were touched by the music of Pacific Ocean waves.

I can’t avoid to think that it’s a marvel to have tools in our pockets that can help us to document a feeling or save a memory. The rest is vanity.


Photographic sites I see for information

I had an Olympus camera, but I was reached the limit of its capabilities so I investigated which camera could satisfy me without mean a hole in my skinny pocket. After reviewing several models I ended knowing several review sites. Perhaps you already know them, and if not they could be useful for you. The most I see are:

He’s a smart man, he knows he’s driving a spectacle so knows how to get his audience interested. He uses to write in a clever way that people fall in his traps and thinks he is saying contradictory or false statements, meanwhile he laughs and have a great time seeing the buzz of the passionate crowd. As a US citizen he explains clear and directly.

From him I learned to use my equipment as tools, not ornaments; I learned everything I know about filters, tripods, cameras, accessories, terminology, etcetera. Actually I know a lot of English words related to photography but I unknown their equivalent in Spanish.

About his side as a photographer I like his naturalness to compose and the bright colors, but to say the truth I’m more attracted to his opinions.

He is a professional photographer. From him I learned to be careful with my equipment to extract the most of them; the importance to have a language in our images, doesn’t matter if you’re shooting a cell phone or medium format; and his most important lesson to me is to choose always a title for my pictures, sometimes I got good titles, sometimes not.

About his side as a photographer actually he is the perfect reason I don’t want to be ever a photographer, so my link to my pictures is called “my pictures” and not “portfolio” for that motive. It’s not that his photographs have an imperfection, far from that, actually they are perfect, doesn’t matter if he uses his iPhone or his Pentax 645Z. But when I see his photographs I feel that he’s not interested in the subject or object portrayed beyond a medium to get a photograph to show. In my case a camera just matters to save memories and to express feelings of the moment. so: No, I don’t want to be a professional photographer.

His passion for photography don’t translates in a photography with soul.

  • Trey Ratcliff from

He is an adventurer. He travels the world and get amazing views. From him I learned to don’t be afraid of software as a tool to get the photograph in the way I see with my eyes and not in the way the camera, an object, see it. He is amazing because he didn’t study photography so in a certain way he’s a Texan that has built his name with a very personal way to be not related to other photographers in the past. If you search online for “HDR” you’re going to find him for sure.

As a photographer I like very much his photographs of landscapes, but I’m not much attracted when his HDR technique is overdone (what was more in the past and sometimes in urban landscapes) because I feel like I’m having an overdose of candy. But the man is cool.

The legendary photographer. Actually is perhaps the only professional photographer I really, but really, I’m fan. From him I learned to be humble and natural, the important is what you see, not what your camera see.

Besides I purchased my Sony R1 because I saw a TV spot in youtube with him grabbing the camera in India. Of course I know that he uses a Nikon but to me was enough to see what a master like him could make with a camera accessible to me.


And that’s all. To take the photograph I had in my mind from Ken Rockwell the confidence to use my cell phone as the important tool it is; from Ming Thein a careful way to shoot with a composition; from Trey Ratcliff the liberty to edit the photograph until it matched what my eyes saw; and from Steve McCurry to capture a meaningful moment for me.

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



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 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!!!



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


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.


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


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


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


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.

  • 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?
  • 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 ;-)


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!

84.5mm medium reversed Graduated ND Square Filter Review

Emerging rock

Filter applied to reproduce the tones of sunset. The darker part coincide with the lower part of the sky.

(Disclaimer: I’m not related to 84.5mm, this review is not sponsored and I bought the filters with my own money)

Continuing my series of reviews today I present my thoughts about a reverse graduated filter manufactured by 84.5mm in Slovakia. Their filters have great quality at an accessible price, but first some basic data:

  • What is a Reverse Graduated ND Square Filter? Is a filter that can be made of glass or resin with a half part totally clear and the other half darkened, this dark half usually is darker in the top and less dark in the end of its half, but in a reversed filter the darker part is at the bottom. It’s square so it needs a holder to put in front of the lens; ND stands for neutral density so it shouldn’t deform the colors of your scene. In short it’s like put a shadow in part of the front of your lens.
  • Do I need a Reverse Graduated ND Filter? If you shot landscapes, sunsets, sunrises… yes! Because the camera cannot see what your eyes can see in terms of highlights and shadows. If your camera is old then absolutely, but if you have a camera manufactured in 2014 or 2015 with a big sensor then not so much, you can simulate more or less successfully the effect with any modern raw converter.
  • Which one to buy? The cheapest you get is probably to be unusable for you. The cheapest ones have magenta casts. There are brands like Lee that sells them but they are expensive to my budget so I canont say much about them, the only problem with the most of companies that make them is that they are mostly made of resin and they always get scratches. I can say that 84.5mm’s filters are of quite good quality with a great price but they’re also made of resin (optical glass) and recently Chinese companies have real glass reverse graduated filters that I want to try next to reduce the costs to be buying one new every year.
  • Why you don’t use a soft or strong graduated ND filter? I can use my reverse filter to replace those filters, I’ll explain it with more detail.

The filter in the camera

845mm medium reversed nd mounted in camera

84.5mm medium reversed ND mounted in camera. It’s attached via a Cokin type “P” holder, it allows me to rotate it to any position I want.

How it looks with lens in mode tele

The filter is unfocused here, but it shows the effect. The sky under the “shadow” of the filter get the tones I see with my eyes and the the clear part is crystal clear.

Ilo's Magic Sun

The darker part of the filter in the lens in mode tele coincides with the position of the sun rendering perfectly with the subtle warm tones.

I don’t use soft or hard graduated filters because they are darker in the upper part, and the sun never is going to be in the upper part in sunsets and sunrises.

Also I prefer to use graduated filters over digital techniques like HDR because in that part of the day usually there is wind or movement. And it feels more honest, of course every photograph here was shot in RAW and processed, but with the goal to get a photograph closer to what my eyes saw.

mars countryside

Stitched image with three photographs. The filter helped to get the field illuminated and the colors in the mountains show the highlights perfectly rendered, without it either the fields had been dark or the sky almost white.

The ending sunset

As in the previous photograph the fields are not black despite the sun has gone and the sky shows detail in the clouds. Notice how the tree look like a silhouette but it’s the natural way we looked we our eyes.

colina insinuada

Without the filter the detail of the fog and clouds hadn’t be so well rendered.

cloudy morning

This photograph could look not so amazing but the detail I got in the shining parts of the morning is amazing, without the filter that white line would be just something empty.

I made my road with nocturnal fire

The clouds have such a drama… the filter allowed to make it possible, for me it’s vital to landscapes, its effect is quite subtle in comparison to using only digital tools, at least in older cameras.



I darkened the top of the hills, so the silhouette could make them more impressive.

If you use this filter just to avoid clipped highlights then you’re using it just mechanically, you are not exploding the creative opportunities this filter opens for you. You can add drama shadowing parts of the scene, highlighting other parts. It can helps you not just to reproduce an scene but to say what you want to mean.


I darkened the part of the distant city, it was so shiny and my goal was to highlight the errant animal, its loneliness.

Walking into the sea

The darkest part of the filter coincides with the crashing waves in the foreground, so they could conserve their details, another benefit is that the stones are silhouettes so they contrast better with the clear water.

frozen time

I used a reverse filter with this landscape and I didn’t need a soft graduated filter (another thing in the bag, nah!)

What happens when you use a reverse grad on a landscape that is not flat? usually something unnatural like this:

with 845mm medium reversed nd

The darkest part literally is cutting the hills, in this case it doesn’t look natural so except for an artistic interpretation try to avoid this.

For comparison this is the same lanscape without the filter. More natural… but now the clouds are overblown. In this case you need a graudated soft filter:

without 845mm medium reversed nd

Without the filter. As you can see for the lost highlights in the clouds a graduated filter still would be necessary.

The trick is quite simple: buy a reverse graduated filter whose dark part is bigger than the diameter of your lens so you can invert the filter and align the middle (the darkest part) with the top of your lens and the top (the less dark part) with the bottom. Then it would be similar to another filter called attenuator. That way I make photographs in landscapes with hills.

forgotten empire

Using my method I can use the reverse gnd like a soft filter.

across the hill a gold land

I loved the clouds in the part illuminated by the sunset so I used the filter despite annulling the hills.

A shape in “V” is quite complicated to resolve with graduated filters. Perhaps HDR could be useful but that’s another complication I don’t want to introduce into my shots.

remember the future

See the tree in the right. It’s noticeable the line of the shadow of the filter. I cropped it to dissimulated it a bit but you can see it.

In wide angle lenses the line of these filters is more noticeable, a way to reduce it is reducing the aperture to f8 for example. Here I admit that a soft gnd would be ideal, but I can live without it (2019 update: I ended getting a soft gnd from 84.5mm hehe, they are useful /n\).

  • High quality filter with no color casts.
  • Very affordable prices with regular promotions.
  • They send worldwide (I live in Peru)
  • Several lines for cokin P size and professional size.
  • Resistance to flares.
  • Durable considering the material.
  • They’re made of resin, durable but they scratch anyway. These days Chinese have lines in high quality glass.
  • They don’t sell a box to storage them, in their package they scratch with the time and to the size I choose, taller than the square Cokin P filters but with 84.5mm of width hence the name, there is no box were to reduce the damage.

They are the best alternative in relation quality/price I got. So I bought one the last year and another one this year. But this is a hobby to me so I cannot justify to buy every year again and again, in my personal case I’m going to buy a Chinese one, a bit pricier but not so much. If you are used to resin filters I can recommend warmly these filters for you.

*UPDATE: You can see the official page of 84.5mm with the e-shop here.

so many kinds of light

perfect landscape

Let’s turn the night in day – A list of 80’s music songs

let's turn the night in day


I was a kid in 80’s but there was no much opportunity to hear music (yep, tough years) And mostly I hear music from past decade or 90’s. But I was thinking in the songs I like from 80’s. It’s personal, I guess some names could be added. Several of them I heard in 90’s or even barely this year so hearing a great part of them doesn’t transport me to that age. They aren’t ordered by preference, except perhaps the first song composed by Vangelis that I always like to hear and I’m not including songs in Spanish language because that list would be quite long.

And the winners are ta-da-da-dam:

Haida Slim Pro II MC ND1000 Review

spirit of wayra

Exposure of 25 seconds

Today I’ll continue my reviews of the filters I lost. In this occasion is the turn of  the Haida ND1000. Let’s begin with general questions:

  • What is a ND 1000 filter? Is a dark or Neutral Density filter that reduces the light forcing the camera to take longer time exposures capturing the motion; indeed it forces the camera by a factor of 1000 (one thousand or ten f-stops) so if your camera normally would take a photograph in 1/1000 of second with this filter will take the same scene in one second, if normally it requires 1/250 of second with the filter it will need 4 seconds.
  • Do I need a ND filter? It depends, if you like to photograph the motion of people, wind, or water then it could be quite useful to you, otherwise it could end forgotten in a bag.
  • Which one to buy? You get what you pay for. They aren’t specially expensive but, if your lens can accept filters, I suggest you to play with the cheapest filter you can find and if you like the effect then buy one of the highest quality. This kind of filter is easy to introduce color casts in your images that are hard to edit even in raw so a good filter as Haida pays its price quickly with the security to shot more outside than be in from of a boring screen.

The Haida ND1000 got great reviews in internet compared with the best brands but with a more affordable price so I purchased one online, I wouldn’t guess that it would be a filter I would use so much. My lens starts with 24mm (equivalent to aps-c sensors) and as I usually stack it with a polarizer I got the slim version to don’t end with heavy vignettings in my photographs.

This is how it looks in the field:

portrait of a fujifilm x-e1


As you can see it’s like a black hole in the camera :D With longer exposures a tripod is a must so I have a lightweight tripod. Well, enough of technical details: let’s go to the pics!

Capturing the motion of water
A light that shines in the dark forest

Exposure of 30 seconds

Longer exposures renders the water in an almost dreamy way, it emphasize the gentle movement. Usually used with waterfalls it can get a nice effect in any body of flowing water.

sinking hand

without filter: exposure of 1/2000 of second

subtle fingers

With filter, same scene exposure of 4 seconds. I reduced the aperture to get a longer exposure. There is no color cast but I set warmer white balance to get a warm atmosphere.

I like both photographs, simply they have different composition, one works with surfaces and the other isolate an static element in middle of the flow of the water.

Avoiding color casts
Tree thinking about the river

ten seconds exposure

If you want to know if your filter is of low quality you can discover it seeing if your photographs look like shot under the red Sun of Krypton. The magenta cast is synonym of cheap and besides artistic intentions you shouldn’t use it in your lenses. Said that the Haida are definitively excellent considering that ND 1000 filters usually have color casts, even the ones from the big names. You just need to be aware to do one thing: Set your white balance to auto. Manually I didn’t get nice results and took a bit more time to edit. Despite that there is a minimal cast, although it’s so little that sometimes I don’t see the need to correct it.

Singer stream

without filter, exposure of 1/125 of second

Bow my branches to the sound of the water

with filter. Exposure of eight seconds. Note how the clouds are less prone to clipped highlights. The color is intentionally warmer

I like both photographs but after shooting the first one I noticed that despite the use of the polarizers the elements under the stream weren’t highlighted as I wanted so I used the filter to allow me to “erase” details to the stream.

Capturing the wind and time
akapana wayra

Exposure of five seconds and a windy day

I'll wait for you an eternity and one day more

Exposure of 30 seconds

Other uses are to reduce people in touristic places but I didn’t get a chance to try that option.

When the light is poor
old port

8 seconds exposure

Actually at twilight the filter can take several seconds or minutes but that’s overkill, you could get the same effect with a ND filter of less intensity. The photograph above was quite dark so the next ones needed much more time.

When stacking with another filters
don't go

30 seconds exposure stacked with circular polarizer to give some transparency to the water

In this photograph I stacked the Haida filter with my also lost Marumi circular polarizer, I can see a little of vignetting. I tried with a graduated filter but it was tough to position it in the composition because the ND 1000 is black. You can set the focus manually and with care set the graduation of the circular polarizer but with a square graduated filter you are better serviced with a square ND 1000 filter, so you can put in position the filters and after that slide in the ND 1000 filter.

  • High quality filter.
  • Almost no color cast setting in auto white balance.
  • Affordable price.
  • It has a square version too both made of great glass.
  • Good presentation.
  • The coatings work.
  • The ring has no texture so it could be hard to separate if is attached to another filters.

This filter allowed me to photograph movement so I could say this is an essential filter. It has characteristics of the famous brands so if you are an amateur like me this is probably your best choice. Now I’m going to try a brand called H&Y so I’ll tell you if that is an option too. A pair more from the Haida meanwhile ;-)

difussed and quite light in the remains of an empire

Exposure of 2.6 seconds

Blended sky and earth

1.6 seconds of exposure under an intense sun and the landscape turned with more contrast and definition :-)

Marumi DHG Super Circular Polarizer Review

sony r1 and marumi super dhg circular polarizer

Marumi DHG Super Circular Polarizer attached in Sony R1’s built-in lens.

I lost my filters a few days ago so I believed it would be a nice moment to post my thoughts about them. This first day I’ll start with a circular polarizer. To make a long story short two questions you could have about polarizers:

  • What is a polarizer? Is a filter to control reflections, it can reduce them or accentuate them using a rotating element you have to graduated at taste. It’s quite useful to erase reflections in leaves and water that in cameras look different to what your eyes see. Also it reduce the atmospheric haze.
  • Do I need a polarizer? if you use a compact camera the answer is no; if you have a camera whose lens accept filters then you could play and have fun with one.

Said that Marumi is a company with high quality filters; the best of them are DHG, Super DHG and EXUS, the first is the one with less characteristics and the latter the filter with highest specifications. I purchased a Super DHG and a day after that Marumi announced the EXUS line, lol. With filters is better to buy the best to avoid degradation of the image quality of your lens. My camera has a fixe Carl Zeiss lens so I thought the Super DHG was the better option.


 Cut reflections

Golden waterfall

Cutting reflections in landscapes.

In the photograph above see how the leaves have not reflections and the colors are truer to what my eyes saw. One side effect is that the sky gets a dark and tenebrous blue that I’ve to correct in my laptop.

don't go

Cutting reflections in water.

In the maritime landscape I used two filters, one to create a long exposure and the Marumi polarizer to make the water more transparent. Not so exaggerated that the ships could look like they were floating.


Cutting reflections in vegetation.

In gardens a polarizer can be the difference between a nice picture or a mess of bright leaves. If you see the leaves in the rose you can notice that they have pure colors and little reflections (a polarizer reduce reflections, it doesn’t erase them)

the mountain is life

Cutting reflections when shooting through car windows.

This mountains and clouds were taken from a bus in movement. One defect of a polarizer is that it blocks a bit the light, so the cheaper can get really dark and the best have a better light transmittance. The Marumi DHG Super allowed me to take photographs in movement without rising the iso and losing quality. Except in sunsets and dusk, there is better to take off the filter. I’m not sure how better is the Exus version.

Reducing atmospheric haze

give me your hand

Distant mountains rendered with quite reduced bluish cast.

In paint there is a technic called Atmospheric Perspective, it’s used to transmit a sense of distance giving the farthest objects a bluish appearance; this is natural because the color of our atmosphere at day. But when we photograph distant objects without closer ones, for example when using tele lenses or a zoom lens fully extended the bluish cast can be felt wrong. So the polarizer helps a lot. Bellow is another example.

eating a hill

Improving reflections

a blue path to nowhere

Polarizer set in minimum effect to highlight reflection of sky in water

Although the emphasis of polarizers is used in reduce reflections they can help them too, the reflection in the little stream above and the lake next to this paragraph can show you, besides you can see the vegetation has better contrast, moderate reflections and there is no much atmospheric haze.

peaceful blue

Minimum effect. Despite that the image has improved colors and contrast closer to what naked eyes saw

be careful red skies

Minimum effect to highlight the reflection on a red floor.

Accentuating rainbows

a treasure in itself

Maximum effect on polarizer to get the best definition of rainbow.

Rainbows can be hard to photograph, a polarizer is your best bet.


Using it in wide angles landscapes

with marumi super dhg circular polarizer at maximum

Polarizers and wide landscapes don’t mix well.

If you see this effect, an uneven polarization of the sky (unnatural darker and brighter parts), don’t trash your filter! :O, is common to every polarizer because they work accord to the sun position so in wide angles is natural that parts far of the sun position in panoramas are weaker to the polarizer effect.

The next photograph is without the polarizer:

without marumi super dhg circular polarizer

Same scene without polarizer.

Now without the polarizer the sky is much more natural, but the mountains now have atmospheric haze and the foreground has less definition. But usually I give more importance to the sky.

Darken the skies

La Paz's Little Miami

Sky darkened to a dismal aspect.

I know that photographers like that effect of dark blues in skies. To me is unnatural and disgusting, but that’s a personal opinion. I guess that it’s from the film days when a polarizer could help to avoid cyan skies in bright days, but perhaps I’m guessing so much. But now I can  reduce that effect modifying the blue color o even better using to the minimum the polarizer effect.

The next photograph originally had that dark blue but I modified to a more realist effect in relation with what I saw:

the art of adobe

Blue color modified to dark to a softer, beautier and realistic sky in software.



  • There is no impact on image quality.
  • Has a high light transmission.
  • Easy to rotate with its textured ring.
  • It’s slim so you can stack more filters.
  • Zero color casts.
  • Resistance to flare.
  • Hard to get dirty, I cleaned it lightly no more than ten times in almost one and half year.


  • The storage box is quite simple, it got broken after some months of normal use.


This filter was perfect to me. So I’m considering to replace the lost one with another Marumi, an EXUS this time. If you have doubts about this filter you can see that next photograph, it’s one of my favorites and I could make it with the Marumi filter.

there is a blaze in you like burning suns

Faithful to our eyes.

Canon EF (film camera) and my most expensive photograph

canon ef camera portrait and a blue shadow

Canon EF camera portrait and a blue shadowCanon EF camera portrait and a blue shadow

From 2014 I’ve used a Canon EF camera to shoot 135mm film. I discovered some days ago that it has a little defect therefore I cannot use it again. So I thought I could give some thoughts about this camera, more considering that there is no much data and when you search for this model instead the search end with Canon EF lenses.


This camera was produced, according to Wikipedia, between 1973 to 1978 for the Canon FD mount that uses lenses with manual focus, I’m not in a hurry and that’s fine with my style, even more those lenses are cheaper because they aren’t compatible with modern Canon Cameras that use EF mount lenses. Its most notorious characteristic to me is that it has a shutter priority design, so you can set the mounted lens in automatic, then you set the shutter and the camera chooses the aperture. Actually I just shot in manual, choosing the shutter speed and the aperture.

It’s not a simple camera as you can see:

canon ef camera repair a

anatomy lesson

One thing in what it’s better than the most of cameras of its age is that the shutter speed goes to thirty seconds, wow!, usually the cameras of those times gave you from one to four seconds as minimum shutter speed so if you want a SLR camera with classic dials and design but not limited to have to use another tool, a light meter, then it’s your camera. The maximum shutter speed is 1/2000.

It’s everything you would need as mirror lock up, self timer, depth of field preview, or multiple exposures, to develop your creativity and nothing unnecessary. The only thing I’d love to have would be an interchangeable viewfinder because for my way to shooting I use much waist level style but that was reserved to the higher end model Canon F-1. This camera was thought for old people that would appreciate the simplicity of this machine, simplicity that goes in a pure design.



black beauty

This camera is also known as the black beauty. And it has a gorgeous design. Pure metal with strong and proportioned lines. The plastic cameras although not so elegant are easier to clean. Said that there is a great defect I chose to correct: it has a plastic covering with a faux texture of leather. As a designer I don’t like that my designs lie. If you do something with plastic then give it a nice texture of plastic; if you put a leather texture then use real leather. Hence I bought a thin layer of leather and repaired it until it was according to my desire. Also I painted the white letters to avoid reflections when using graduated filters and also to don’t draw the attention upon me. I’m not a collector, nor a photographer, so I took utilitarian decisions. This was the body before:

canon ef repair b


And this is the body now:

canon ef camera yellow a

canon ef camera yellow b

canon ef camera yellow c

canon ef camera yellow d




It feels nice in the hand, and although it’s not a little camera it’s not so huge as the cameras with autofocus of later years.

The design is so clean that in the top of the body the shutter button, the shutter speed dial and the winding lever are integrated in one component; so you can shot very quickly. Actually I found it quicker than, for example, the Fujifilm X-E1 that although uses design clues of mechanical cameras the operation is slower, and harder to rotate the shutter dial and move your finger to press the shutter. In this old machine the shutter is an extension of your finger.

canon ef camera top

See the shutter dial, the designers put it in an ergonomic way so to rotate it you just pass your finger; something so simple but so quick as to use a modern dial because you can leave your eye in the viewfinder without need to divert your attention to check the dial. The flash shoe cover can be used to cover the viewfinder when long exposures.

The viewfinder in the first models had a microprism filter as a focusing aid, it’s a bit uncomfortable so I got another with a split screen. I shot it but it’s not so clear as I’d like it:

canon ef camera viewfinder

Canon EF viewfinder with split screen. Data of shutter and lens aperture.

Taking photographs

canon EF camera sky

It would be a pleasure to shot it.

The best results I got it with tripod, a simple and standard shutter release cable and a three bubble level. The photograph took in that moment with the camera is this:

two clouds talk

Two clouds talk

Sadly there is a problem that I couldn’t repair nor identify; quite probably only the slow velocities of the shutter were working. So I got several ghostly photos, usually the long exposures are right. This is the kind of photos I get:

memory of an old building


Some good ones are these:

inquisitive whiteness

Inquisitive whiteness

yellow end of the world

yellow end of the world

neogothic echoes

neogotic echoes

follow my steps

follow my steps

As you can see the fire went perfect:



My most expensive photograph

Days ago I travelled to a lagoon so I took my digital camera and the Canon EF with a 50mm and 135mm lens. I walked a lot and in the end the weight of the two cameras were slowing me. But I finished a Portra 160 roll of film because the beautiful landscapes, so I was anxious to see the results: there were just one sucessful photograph, the rest where just overexposed till being just white…

This photograph is the survivor:

sad norse funeral

sad Norse funeral

So… How much that photograph costs?

  • Eighty dollars to repair the camera.
  • Fifty dollars in batteries to replace the old PX625.
  • Thirty dollars in rolls.
  • Fifty dollars in lab processing.

Then the total would be two hundred and ten dollars. So I decided to buy a cheap but more modern lightweight and compact camera, in Peru is harder to get technical service and to the places I need or want to go I can’t take so much weight. But if you are in other place and have access to a well working unit then it’s a highly recommended camera.

It’s a black beauty.

Stitching photographs: Microsoft ICE review

blue night


Disclosure: I’ve no relation with the creators of this software or the company. This is an opinion about a free software that I downloaded legally from its web page.

(2019 update. there is a newer version with importan improvements: it completes blank corners in a realistic way and it has a better way to zoom without losing quality to check the stitch. You can see it here)

Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor) is a free program to stitch or combine two or more photographs if and only if they overlap. Used usually for panoramas I use it for different occasions.


1. When your lens doesn’t cover the image you want

You want to cover more space than the angle of vision of your lens can give and you cannot, because time or space, move to another position:

Let’s take these two photographs:

photograph to stich a

image a


photograph to stich b

image b

Then we get:

running at night

stitched from the two previous photographs

But a caveat: if there are objects that don’t repeat in both photographs the program eliminate it from the final version. So actually I cut a bit of image b near the right side of the door so the running man could be in the final image. As you can see I hadn’t time to back up because the man couldn’t be there anymore; nor space because there were the walls of the houses. So my more realistic solution was to photograph with the goal of stitch. Of course you think “then take the photograph in horizontal” but with one I wouldn’t get the whole area I wanted and in horizontal I had need a horizontal more to cover the half top of the hotel and a third vertical to cover the corner at the left.

2. When you need more megapixels and detail

True, there are cameras with 36 megapixels but if you need that resolution just a couple of times in a year, you just can stitch when needed. Here I zoomed in and I stitched five photographs of the tree. The camera is a Sony R1 of ten megapixeles capable of A3 and perhaps beyond processing carefully. So I took five or six photographs and stitched them getting a final photograph with 30 megapixels of data:


See, a 100 % crop of the above photography, it’s from the right side approximately from the middle:

100 per cent crop

100% crop

Of course I could sharpened just one photograph but nothing is free. Usually sharpened photographs can look unnatural and if printed bigger the harshness is quite visible.

It’s always better to have a detailed photograph instead a sharpened one.

3. When you need to control the perspective

Ok, let’s say that you have time and space to take some steps back and get the shot, but then you have to take in account the importance of the perspective.

In the next photograph if I had been farther the perspective would had changed into a smaller rock in the background against the hill in the background. But stitching, because the lens didn’t cover the area I wanted in frame, I got this:


You have to take the photograph, not the camera for you.

4. When you need to change the aspect ratio of your image

If you have a camera with a big sensor, and you can notice it if your lens is big, then usually the format is 2:3. Sometimes this proportion doesn’t help into the composition, in some cases it can look very skinny in vertical or quite tall in horizontal, so you can take one picture and crop, but this method can leads to an image degraded in its quality. Always is better to stitch than to crop. See the next photograph, is about a lazy bench taking a sunbath at the afternoon:

Seat taking a sunbath

It doesn’t look so bad but notice how the light in the floor is very short, I didn’t take more distance because the perspective had changed and the frontal part of the bench barely can “breath” for the lack of space. That usually happens with the format 2:3, so I took another photograph to the left to stitch them and get this:

just an empty seat if you are not there

The outcome is closer to my vision. The light in the floor insinuate better the nature of the light and the aspect ratio is more proportional to the bench.


  • Use more space in the extremes to cover the image you want. It’s due to the perspective. In the next image the corners didn’t cover the frame I wanted so the curve in the bottom is incomplete:




  • If you have to shoot a panorama if possible set the exposure and put your camera in vertical; and if you’ve to shoot vertical buildings or trees put your camera horizontal. The stitched image is going to have more space to crop. To this vertical tree I took three horizontal photographs:

threeshold to a world in darkness



  • Although a bit of wind doesn’t damage the stitching try to don’t shoot places with much movement. To get better results you have to turn the camera around a nodal point to reduce distortions. To put it quite simple if you have a zoom lens in its widest angle the axis is near the frontal lens and at its farthest position in the tele side the axis of rotation is closer to the tripod mount in the body of your camera. I take the photographs for that reason handheld. There are specialized tools but they are expensive and I haven’t felt the need for them in the photographs I stitched ;-) The next image is the most successful stitched image in movement, it was taken in a bus in the highway at dusk when you need slow shutter velocities:



  • ICE sometimes struggles with the waves of the sea and the trees under a moderate wind. And that’s all, other programs can be more successful in that area. I haven’t tried many more programs, perhaps three, because they aren’t free (I’m not a pro and don’t consider myself a photographer so I don’t need a sophisticated program) or are complex and eat so much time.  ICE instead is free and quite simple. For example I got something better in the next photograph with another program, but I deleted it from my list of programs because it was more complex from what I wanted (for that I don’t remember the name), so I accept the limitation and shoot according that, perhaps ICE now can stitch it but anyway, I didn’t considered the corners (it was one of my first photographs to stitch) so I cloned the superior corners:
the dusk and the beach

(stitched with another software)

* * *

These pictures can give you an idea about the uses of this software:

a road in earth a road in the sky

three vertical photographs stitched

the high parliament of trees

two horizontal photographs stitched


four vertical photographs

barely a shadow in the shiny day

you can control the final perspective in ICE, in this case my goal was to get straight lines.

the art of adobe

two horizontal photographs stitched

mars countryside

three photographs stitched to show more of the background without lose the sky

a light that doesn't want to see the sunset

At dusk is common to meet long clouds. Two horizontal images stitched.

* * *


You can download it, free and legal, from here:

To use it just drag and drop the pics, wait that the program do its process et voilà, your photograph is ready ;-) You have to only be careful with don’t correct the vignetting from the source images and save at one hundred percent of quality file.

 And that’s all folks. With the mentioned caveats I’ve no problem in give a qhapaq of gold to ICE.