A facial pose estimation system is presented that functions with illumination variations present. Pose estimation is a useful first stage in a face recognition system. A separate minimum noise and correlation energy (MINACE) filter is synthesized for each pose. To select the MINACE parameter c for the filter for a pose, a training set of illumination differences of several faces at that pose, and a validation set of other poses (illumination differences of several faces at a few other poses) is used in the automated filter-synthesis step. However, the filter for each pose is a combination of faces at only that pose. The pose estimation system is evaluated using images from the CMU Pose, Illumination and Expression (PIE) database. The classification performance (PC) scores are presented for several pose estimation tests. The pose estimate will be used for a subsequent image transformation of a test face to a reference pose for face identification.