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04-19-2007, 02:49 PM   #1
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proper filters for Machu Picchu (high altitude)

Hi gang,

I'm planning on travelling to Machu Picchu this summer. I'll be travelling light so I'm only taking my K100D and my Tamron 28-300 lens (okay, I might sneak my FA50 along also...or my 10-17...no, I'm going to travel light). Anyway, I was thinking of picking up a polarizing filter and a skylight/UV filter. Which filters do I need and why? I'm not one to use a protective filter, so please discuss the unique needs I might face at close to 10,000 feet.

I was thinking of a circular polarizer to make the colors jump, though maybe I don't need that. Also, I was worried about haze in the mountains and was thinking a UV filter may help cut that down, especially at high altitude. Any suggestions on filters will be greatly appreciated.


Seriously, my "kit" will probably be the camera, the one lens, any filters you people think, and my P-2000 to dump shots. I'll take a handfull of cards so I'll have shots backed up, and for batteries, I'll just stick some new CRV3's in the camera, with an extra set in my luggage. I'll probably carry a large ziplock bag with a desiccant pack in it in case of rain. Oh, and I have a gorillaPod that I'll probably carry as well.

04-19-2007, 04:46 PM   #2
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Filters, a basic kit.

Circular polarizer for fixing skies, controlling specular highlights and reflections off glass or water.
UV, fighting high altitude UV and glare.
One or more gradual NDs, sunrises/sets, too much scene brightness range.
A Tiffen 812, for fixing people pictures-a more healthy skin glow.
One or more didymium 'enhancers', for intensifying reds or blues/greens--especially foliage and flowers.
04-19-2007, 04:59 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jfdavis58 Quote
Circular polarizer for fixing skies, controlling specular highlights and reflections off glass or water.
UV, fighting high altitude UV and glare.
One or more gradual NDs, sunrises/sets, too much scene brightness range.
A Tiffen 812, for fixing people pictures-a more healthy skin glow.
One or more didymium 'enhancers', for intensifying reds or blues/greens--especially foliage and flowers.
Interesting...
While I can't say I'll be at Machu Picchu any time soon, I just wanted to ask how necessary the 812 and 'enhancers' are. Can't these sorts of things be done with white balance and RAW conversion?

I don't mean to sound contradictory; I am posing this as a sincere question.
04-19-2007, 05:09 PM   #4
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The only necessary filters IMO are the UV filter and the Grad ND.

The UV level at higher elevations is higher and can give images more of a blue tint. I haven't had a chance to see how Pentax AWB deals with this but.Nikon AWB will compensate for increased UV. The presets will be off though.

Grad ND is very useful for taming high contrast skies over deep shadows (steep mountain valleys at sunset for example)

Polarizers are useful for taming glare but at high elevations they can turn a blue sky almost black so use them with care.

04-19-2007, 05:26 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by wmmk Quote
Interesting...
While I can't say I'll be at Machu Picchu any time soon, I just wanted to ask how necessary the 812 and 'enhancers' are. Can't these sorts of things be done with white balance and RAW conversion?

I don't mean to sound contradictory; I am posing this as a sincere question.

The 812 maybe; it's a half step warming filter--I find it 'just easier'.

The didymium, I don't know. They are an exotic material, relatively speaking; not typically listed in common 'filter book' references.

All my filters are left-overs from years of film shooting. With digital, I do the custom WB thing, shoot a few frames, slap on a filter and shoot a few more. I'm not one to depend on 'fixing it in photoshop' or making it up via editing. It's a mind set thing. The filters don't take up much space, they're fast, I'm done coming out of the camera.
04-19-2007, 08:02 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
Hi gang,

I'm planning on travelling to Machu Picchu this summer. I'll be travelling light so I'm only taking my K100D and my Tamron 28-300 lens (okay, I might sneak my FA50 along also...or my 10-17...no, I'm going to travel light). Anyway, I was thinking of picking up a polarizing filter and a skylight/UV filter. Which filters do I need and why? I'm not one to use a protective filter, so please discuss the unique needs I might face at close to 10,000 feet.

I was thinking of a circular polarizer to make the colors jump, though maybe I don't need that. Also, I was worried about haze in the mountains and was thinking a UV filter may help cut that down, especially at high altitude. Any suggestions on filters will be greatly appreciated.


Seriously, my "kit" will probably be the camera, the one lens, any filters you people think, and my P-2000 to dump shots. I'll take a handfull of cards so I'll have shots backed up, and for batteries, I'll just stick some new CRV3's in the camera, with an extra set in my luggage. I'll probably carry a large ziplock bag with a desiccant pack in it in case of rain. Oh, and I have a gorillaPod that I'll probably carry as well.

I have been to Macchu Picchu and you are in for a tremendous treat. Far beyond what you even think you will be in for. My first recommendation is non camera. To enjoy Macchu Picchu you really should book a night at the hotel on the ruins site. When I was there with my wife in 1976 when doing my graduate research we stayed in said hotel. My understanding is that they have built another at the base of the Hiram Bingham road near the Urubamba train station at the base of the hill.

The best overall photography is in late afternoon....when all the touritst have gone and those that remain (only 13 guests were allowed back then) have run of the entire ruins to themselves...usually with several hours of sunlight left.

You will be amazed at how much photography you can do there. Research the place well before you go to get the most out of it.

Okay that said. 28mm is NOT...repeat NOT...enough to photograph the ruins on a digital camera.
That is the minimum you can get away with on a 35mm but you cannot do it on a DSLR. I heartily recommend that you have a 12-24. I also think you need to have a wide angle like that if you travel to other ruins in the area too...such as Ollantaytombo, Pisaq (Great little site) and Sacksayawaman (just outside of Cusco).
Trust me...you will need a wide angle for many...many reasons when you get there.

A polarizer is a must too. Don't over use it thoughor your images will suffer.

If my stuff wasn't all slides (old and cracked by now) I would post some examples.

I hope this helps somewhat. Enjoy your trip. It was and is the highlight of my entire travel career.

Stephen

Last edited by SCGushue; 04-19-2007 at 08:10 PM. Reason: text
04-19-2007, 08:41 PM   #7
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Take the 10-17 and the 50 - they aren't that big! I loved having both with me while traveling in Turkey (along with the kit, the 50-200 and the 100 macro - which I probably didn't need, but like). And the P2000 - an indispensable gadget.
04-20-2007, 01:25 PM   #8
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Okay gang,

Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. I have plenty to chew on.

Firstly, the hotel within the ruins is booked, but we did get a night at the second one. Apparently they also have a large orchid garden. Sounds lovely!

I may get to try out the Tamron 18-250 next month and that may be my lens solution. If not, I'll probably just pack along the 10-17. I really don't want to take a large kit as my wife won't tolerate much lens changing and such (nor do I want to make this a "photography" trip). I DO want to get some good shots, but within the context of enjoying a "once in a lifetime" trip with my wife, not a "once in a lifetime" photo op. (Though that would be nice, too. )

04-20-2007, 05:47 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
Okay gang,

Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. I have plenty to chew on.

Firstly, the hotel within the ruins is booked, but we did get a night at the second one. Apparently they also have a large orchid garden. Sounds lovely!

I may get to try out the Tamron 18-250 next month and that may be my lens solution. If not, I'll probably just pack along the 10-17. I really don't want to take a large kit as my wife won't tolerate much lens changing and such (nor do I want to make this a "photography" trip). I DO want to get some good shots, but within the context of enjoying a "once in a lifetime" trip with my wife, not a "once in a lifetime" photo op. (Though that would be nice, too. )
Russ,

Thirty years, two kids and all those years with my wife have not damped the pleasure of looking at these old slides of Inca Ruins and enjoying them with my wife. Only two months ago, when preparing a lecture for a regional camera club, I spent an evening reviewing several carousels, with my wife, of 6 months of research in the Amazon and a month traveling Macchu Picchu and Nazca etc. The images (note here that's.... lots of pictures....lots ) transported us right back to those times as though the adventure happened yesterday. It was a great evening!

I always hoped I would go back, but reality bites and I doubt that I will actually get to recycle back there. But all the images served their purpose and still do. Shoot all that you can...you have a lifetime to look back and enjoy and revel in this trip forever. Once you come back...it's pretty hard to capture those moments

Enjoy,

Stephen

Last edited by SCGushue; 04-20-2007 at 05:49 PM. Reason: sp
04-20-2007, 08:28 PM   #10
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Thanks Stephen, that's a good point.
06-23-2008, 11:26 AM   #11
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me too!!!

i am going to Macchu Picchu and lake Titicaca in the end of August.

Should i bother with my 50-135 2.8 ? It's quite heavy....will I get good use out of it?
06-23-2008, 01:55 PM   #12
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Man ... you guys are lucky ... I'd loev to visit such an area.

Awesome information here Stephen ... if i was heading there this is exactly what I'd want to here ... and seeing other images from this area I was half expecting that you'd need something pretty wide.

I guess also when shooting something this special ... shoot RAW to make sure you get every little bit of detail ... and a hell of a lot of memory cards ... hee hee.
06-23-2008, 10:31 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by davieFL Quote
i am going to Macchu Picchu and lake Titicaca in the end of August.

Should i bother with my 50-135 2.8 ? It's quite heavy....will I get good use out of it?
I wound up just taking the K100D and the 18-250 with a UV filter. That's it. You can see my Flickr set from Peru here. I was very pleased with how the shots came out, and I didn't feel like I missed anything. Were I going back today, I'd still take the 18-250 on my K20D. I own the 50-135 and it's a great lens. However, I really liked not having to carry around a bunch of gear, and my wife appreciated not having to wait on me to change lenses.

If I was traveling by myself, or my wife was also into photography, then I'd carry a larger setup.
06-24-2008, 03:19 AM   #14
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Many excellent shots in the flickr set, Russ. A few of the mountain scenics have pretty wide tonal ranges, with rather dark shadows for my tastes. Still, that you got that entire group of shots with one lens speaks well for the 18-250's capabilities as a walk-around lens. Solid work, all in all!

davieFL, the DA* 50-135 is my favorite and a great walk-around lens, too! Worth its weight in image quality, weather-sealing (it rains often and heavily in the high Andes), and speed.
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