View of the Drew | Andrew Halpern Photography

Useful Tools

Background on this site


So, how did I do it?

The above screenshot shows the back-end of my website. To manage this blog/site, I use the Wordpress blogging platform.

There are two “flavors” of WordPress, the free version and the self-hosted variety. leads to the free version. Free is great but there are a lot of drawbacks. To me, the drawbacks were deal-breakers so I chose to self-host my WordPress site.

Self-hosted simply means I pay a third-party web hosting company to host my WordPress installation (in my case I use Bluehost). Unlike the free version of WordPress, a self-hosted WordPress ( blog is customizable via all sorts of plugins. That allows me to easily expand the default platform to fit my needs. The free site simply does not allow plugins.

With the free version, you end up running into limitations very, very quickly. I cannot really recommend it.

Anyway, the most important thing with a WordPress blog is the theme. This completely customizes how your site will look. What’s nice about WordPress is that it allows you to change themes on the fly. The hard part about that is to create a custom theme. I used a program called Artisteer (along with some work in Photoshop) to create mine because I simply do not know enough about coding. To properly make your own WordPress theme, you should really know HTML, CSS, and PHP.

I’m really not there yet, but I hope to learn enough to create my own theme soon.



1/100″ F6.3 18mm (29mm equiv)

Manhattan Bridge

Yeah, it’s sick how people can deface bridges. There’s a pretty big difference between the way the Manhattan Bridge is taken care of, and that of the Brooklyn Bridge. There isn’t much to discuss with this shot, except for the fact I wish I had a wider lens. So, I’ll take the time to discuss how “crop factors” affect your photography.

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Coney Island at Night

Coney Island at Night (Brooklyn, NY)

1/40s . f/2.8 . ISO 800 . 35mm(equiv)

This is a shot I took of Coney Island at night. My DSLR was being fixed at the time, so I shot it with a Canon G7, which is an advanced compact camera. An interesting thing to note on this shot, is that the aperture is fairly wide at f/2.8.  But despite that fact, notice how deep a depth of field we get on the shot. The reason for this is due to the smaller sensor on the compact camera.

On a DSLR in order to get the equivalent depth of field, you would need a setting of  about f/13 on a full-frame camera and about f/8 on a cropped-sensor camera. This fact illustrates why it is near impossible to do blurred backgrounds with a compact sensor camera.

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Voyage to Roosevelt Island

Here is a new shot of the Roosevelt Island Tram I took the other day. The Tram is actually one of the few aerial *commuter* trams in the world. It runs from 59th and 2nd in Manhattan to Main Street on Roosevelt Island.  The cost is the same as a ride on the subway.

You might be wondering about the sky in this shot and how I got the clouds to pop out like that.  Well, I used a lens filter known as a Circular Polarizer.

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1/60s . f/4.0 . ISO 400 . 18 mm (Foil-reflected flash)

Here’s a cute shot of my dog Bandit.  I used my foil-reflected flash trick in order to get it.  I actually have this shot framed by the window.

Scroogle frees you from biased Google searches


Website owners love to look at their own pages.  Personally, I look at my own site everyday.  I also Google for my website all the time.

The problem with this is that Google saves your searches.  Usually that’s a good thing  but the issue is that the next time you Google, your website’s ranking will be a lot different than it would be on a “virgin” Google search.  So in order to get unbiased Google searches, you can use the Scroogle scraper which allows anonymous Google searches.  This way you can check your page’s true ranking.  A very useful too.

Golden Hour

St. Marks Plaza, Venice

San Marco's Plaza, Venice @ 19:21 — 1/100s . f/7.1 . ISO 200 . 18 mm

Golden hour is a magical time for photography.  The light comes in at nearly a horizontal angle which seems to improve the clarity of shots and give them a rich, warm feel.  Roger Moffatt, who runs an online calculator where you can calculate the hour for your area, defines it as: “the first and last hour of sunlight in the day when the special quality of light yields particularly beautiful photographs”.  There are also golden hour calculators available for Android as well as iPhone.

Notice in this shot of San Marco’s plaza you can see how the sun affects the shadows in this shot.  Many of my best photographs come during Golden Hour because the light is much clearer, and there isn’t as much glare as noontime.

Pay attention to your settings

Subway Station (59th st. Columbus Circle, NYC)

59th St. Columbus Circle Subway Station, NYC | 1/60 * f/4.0, iso1600, 55mm

I try to include the camera settings in my image captions because I think you learn a lot from them (I know I do). Always examine the camera settings on your own shots and try to examine them on other people’s. If you are using Google Chrome as your browser, an amazing browser extension that you can install is called “Fittr Flickr“.  This will allow you to examine all the camera settings people use on Flickr.  Read the rest of this entry »

Amazing Photo Tagger

This is the amazing Google Goggles Android app in action.  This is a phone screenshot of a photo I took this photo in Zurich which had a landmark I did not recognize.  I sent the photo through this app, and lo and behold, instant recognition.  Now I can tag unknown landmarks. Google Goggles is also available for iPhone as well, so you Apple guys are in luck.

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