View of the Drew | Andrew Halpern Photography

View from 23rd St. and East River (NYC) View of the Queensborough bridge from the island with some folks playing baseball underneath. Clyde Auditorium, also known as The Armadillo, Glasgow Falcon Waiting for the train on Halloween (Union Square Subway Station, NYC) Gull near Carl Schurz Park (NYC) Off-Licence, Oxford

Who is your daddy, and what does he do?


I caught this one in Brooklyn near the Brooklyn Bridge.  I guess Brooklyn has daddy issues?

There’s not much technique with this shot, one could probably have gotten a decent version with a phone camera. However, one thing I did do with this shot was to use the circular polarizer. Polarizers are great for photos of cars and trucks because they let you cut down on the glare that comes off a shiny paint job. It’s even more important on a sunny day like this one.  The result is the colors are bold and bright without any glare.

Eek, Spider!

1/40s . f/3.5 . ISO 320 . 18 mm

Crawling all over UWS brownstones.

It’s important to look up when you’re walking around. Otherwise you could end up missing a nice Halloween scene. Happy Halloween everyone!

Snoop Dogg (Lion?)

1/30s . f/5.6 . ISO 3200 . 55 mm

First thing’s first, I’m sorry I left this site for over a year. Hopefully, I’ll be posting again semi-regularly. It looks pretty bad to see “November 2011” as the last post before this one!

Anyway…back in September, I was walking around in Times Square and found Snoop Dogg/Lion, whatever he wants to call himself these days, walking around as well. This is the best paparazzi shot I’ve got of him. What’s interesting is that he was really loving his photo taken, it seemed like he purposely was standing as still as possible so that people could get the best picture.

Normally at night, it can be difficult to photograph people walking around.  There usually just isn’t enough light to get a high enough shutter speed unless you feel like using the flash. Notice the ISO here is 3200, but with f/5.6 I am only able to shoot as fast as 1/30 of a second. In this scenario, one really needs a “fast lens”, – which means one with a wide aperture that lets in plenty of light. Unfortunately, I wasn’t using such a lens.

New York City Marathon


The NYC marathon runs through my neighborhood at around the 17th mile mark every year.  On Nov 6, 2011 (tommorow), thousands of folks will run by again.  Here’s a short flip-book animation I made back in 2009.  That’s 480 shots in 48 seconds @ 10 frames a second.

So how did I do this? It actually isn’t so hard. You’ll need QuickTime Pro which is available for Mac or PC.

First, I set my camera up to shoot in burst mode.  For this, I simply used “Sports mode” and let my camera do the work. You’ll need to take a lot of pictures if you want to use a high frame rate in the movie file.  The more burst sequences you shoot, the cooler the animation will look. Remember to take all your photos in landscape orientation, or you’ll need to eliminate the portrait shots later.

Next you’ll need to export all those photos to a folder at a downgraded resolution.  Remember, even full 1080p HD video is only about 2 megapixels.  So which resolution to choose? For 1080p quality, export with the short-edge (the height in this case) at 1080 pixels, for 720p quality, export with the short-edge at 720 pixels, and so on.  You should realize that outfits like Youtube will likely degrade the quality of your movie despite any high resolution.

To piece the images together as a video file, open up QuickTime Pro and go to File>Open Image Sequence. Navigate to the first image in your folder of shots.  Click Open, and next you’ll be given a choice of frame-rates. Your choice will depend on how long you want your movie to actually be and how many photos you’ve actually taken.

Use File>Save As to export the image sequence as a video file. After you do this, you can easily use other programs (Windows MovieMaker, Apple’s iMovie, etc) to add a soundtrack.

But an even easier and lazier way to do this is to simply upload the silent version to Youtube. You can then use their AudioSwap feature to easily find an audio track that can match the length of the movie.  You also won’t encounter any copyright issues since the stuff on there is royalty-free.


1/250 - f/4 - 45 mm - ISO 1000

One of the interesting things about the Sony cameras I used at the Expo was their amazing ability to shoot 12 frames a second. That’s a bit overkill but a speedy burst mode combined with the expensive lenses are what helped get many of these shots.

Normally I try to shoot in raw format for maximum flexibility, but it often helps to shoot jpeg for rapid burst sequences since many times cameras are limited in their ability to shoot more than a certain number of raw files at top speeds.

1/320 - f/5.6 - 230 mm - ISO 1600

1/250 - f/4.5 - 70 mm - ISO 1600

1/640 - f/2.8 - 50 mm - ISO 1600

Part of a shutter-happy family

1/50 - f/4 - ISO 800 - 300 mm

Despite the very strange October snow, I went back to the Photo Expo on Saturday in order to have more fun with equipment that is far too expensive for me to own. I did a little better this time with the controls.

The lens used to shoot the first two was that $6,300 Sony 300mm f/2.8 (the middle lens in the last photograph). It’s a massive beast of a lens because it’s a very long telephoto, and most importantly it has a very wide aperture of f/2.8. The very wide aperture allows for only the subjects to be isolated. It also allows a ton of light into the camera. A paparazzi photographer’s dream. But it comes at a massive price.

Another thing to notice is how pleasing the out-of-focus portions of the two image are. The term for this is ‘bokeh’ and it’s a hallmark of professional-looking photography. “Good” bokeh will be soft and smooth (like you see here), while “bad” bokeh is often course and not as pleasing to the eye. Since it costs so much to get the “good” kind, I’ll settle for anything actually.

1/200 - f/2.8 - ISO 1600 - 300 mm

Cradling his baby.

Notice on this shot how razor-thin the depth of field is here. The focus is sharp on the guy’s face but his camera is starting to get blurry.

1/80 - f/4 - ISO 500 - 50 mm

The middle lens was used to shoot the top two photos.

The PhotoPlus Expo

1/8 - f/5.6 - ISO 200 - 250 mm (Shot using a 70-400mm f4-f.6 Sony Lens. Lens Cost $1800. Camera cost??)

Thursday, I went to the PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. This is a trade show where you can play with all the latest (and very expensive) camera equipment. But this year I did something different. Instead of using my own camera, I put my memory card into the cameras on display and snapped away.

Most of these cameras I didn’t know how to use. The controls are very different to my Canon, and I *really* didn’t know what I was doing.  Most importantly, I didn’t know how to change most of the settings to what I wanted. But with equipment costing thousands and thousands of dollars, it’s actually not that hard to shoot something somewhat decent.

You’d have to know a little bit about what you are doing, but not as much as you’d think.  The lenses and camera systems are just too good to let you down.

Remember, you don’t need expensive equipment like this to make decent photos, but it’s truly amazing what this stuff can do even in the ‘wrong hands’.

1/20 - f/2 - ISO 200 - 23 mm (Fuji X-100, $1,300)

Notice this shot if I took it again, I’d probably increase the shutter speed to control for movement.

The camera I’m using is called the Fuji X-100 (you can see the man in yellow holding one).  It’s a nifty little camera that has a sensor as large as a DSLR but can fit in a coat pocket. It’s unobtrusive and good for street photography.  The problem is the attached lens is a fixed lens, and it has but one focal length.  In other words you cannot zoom in nor can you buy a different lens for it.  For some folks, that’s absolutely fine for them.

1/60 - f/2.2 - ISO 400 - 7.1 mm (Fuji X-10, advanced compact @ $600 not so expensive)

I stumped this guy here with lots of nerd questions.  One of the few cameras I used that’s not so expensive.

1/200 - f/4 - ISO 1600 - 70 mm (Shot using a 70-400mm f4-f.6 Sony Lens. Lens Cost $1800. Camera cost??)

The expo set up a Samurai sword session with some of the very expensive lens set ups so we could test them out.  Since I was fumbling so much with the controls, I managed to put the camera into “sports mode” and let it and the lens do the thinking.

1/800s . f/3.5 . ISO 8000 . 300 mm (300mm f2.8 Sony $6,300)

ISO set far too high here as you can see from the grain.  There’s really no need for the shutter speed to be so fast on this shot.  This kind of thing is the major downside to letting the camera make decisions for you (Sports Mode).  But then again this is ISO8000 we are talking about.  The camera actually does a pretty good job at handling the noise especially on her face.  A paparazzi style shot if I ever saw one.

Feast of San Gennaro (Little Italy)

1/80 - f/5.6 - ISO 125 - 55 mm

Every year in Little Italy, the streets get shut down for this festival of Italian-American culture. The crowds are pretty insane as you can see from the first shot. Some people are even nuts enough to actually want to eat outside at the restaurants while the crowds stream by staring at their pasta.
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Yorkville Oktoberfest 2011

1/80s . f/5.6 . ISO 1000 . 55 mm

Our neighborhood has an annual mini- ‘Oktoberfest’ to celebrate it’s (waning) German heritage. As you can see, the band members are a bit ancient, but they are still going strong.

Yorkville used to have tons of Germans with beer gardens, and East 86th street used to be called German Broadway.

Unfortunately, the German influence in the area has nearly vanished with only a few remaining vestiges. One is Schaller & Weber German Delicatessen, whose banner you can see in the upper right of the first photo. The other is Heidelberg Restaurant which is pretty much next door to Schaller. Finally there is Zion-St. Mark’s Church (last photo) which still holds bilingual services in German and English.

The church used to be downtown in an area called Klein-Deutschland (Little Germany). Most of the German community ended up moving uptown to Yorkville after the church chartered a steamship (the General Slocum) that exploded and killed 1000 parishioners and children.

1/400 . f/4.5 . ISO 3200 . 32 mm

1/320 . f/5.6 . ISO 3200 . 55 mm

These kids weren’t too keen on the music.  I thought it was good though

1/125 . f/7.1 . ISO 100 . 55 mm

Blast from the past

1/13s . f/4.5 . ISO 3200 . 30 mm

To advertise their TV show Boardwalk Empire (which takes place in Prohibition-era Atlantic City), HBO ran these subway trains from the 1920s every weekend in September on the 2/3 line.  Pretty nifty promotional stunt if you ask me.

This car says it was in service from 1924 to 1969. That’s a pretty long life for a subway car, which is why my father said…hey I remember that train. This particular one is known as a Lo-V

Shooting was a bit difficult in such a low light environment. Lucky for me I was able to jack-up the ISO settings in order to get a quick enough shutter speed for these shots. Pay attention to the noise reduction settings in Lightroom so you can minimize the effect of too much noise in your shots.  It’s ok to live a bit of it in, it looks better than too smeary.

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