View of the Drew | Andrew Halpern Photography

Enjoying the sun (Carl Schurz Park, NYC)

1/1600 . f/5.6 . ISO 320 . 250 mm

Sports mode is useful not just for sports.  Anytime you want to freeze action, or you are unsure about whether something will move, you can quickly switch to sports mode.

It’s useful to understand exactly what “sports mode”  actually does if you decide to use it on your camera. The reason why I like it a lot is because it quickly changes three key settings at once.

  1. It changes your autofocus to AI Servo.  AI Servo will continually adjust the focus of your lens while your finger is half-pressing the shutter button.  It is *very* useful for moving objects.
  2. It changes your autofocus to use all your focal points at once.  Usually I use the single, center focus point to focus my shots so that I have full control.  The issue with moving objects is that you usually aren’t fast enough to make sure the focus is on the center point.
  3. It forces your shutter speed to be very fast, so as to freeze the action.  Usually this will also force the aperture to open to its widest.

Photosnobs will sometimes call the scene presets “dummy modes.”  Well if they can help me snag a shot, then I’m happy to be a dummy.

Foil is your friend

Foil Flash Reflector

Foil Flash Reflector

So why did I do this to my camera you might ask? Well, I’m sure you’ve experienced poor results from your own-board flash. Direct flash usually creates ugly, harsh shadows and looks very unappealing. To remedy this, the easiest way is to bounce the flash light off another surface.

Normally, this involves buying an external flash for a few hundred dollars. That’s definitely the best way.

But the cheap way is to make a reflector for you on-board flash. I did this using Aluminum foil. If you try, make sure to grab enough foil that you xan fold it at least 3 times for thickness sake. Then simply mold it into the flash seat area so that it will stay in one place while shooting.  To get the best exposure, you might need to change the flash-exposure compensation, or increase your ISO.  Consult your camera manual on how to do this.

Oh and one last thing, be sure to close your eyes quickly when the flash goes off because it’ll be in your face.

Sun setting on a city church

1/500s . f/4 . ISO 100 . 50 mm

Not too long ago (before 2008), in order to get this shot with an SLR, one had to look through the glass viewfinder. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy looking directly at the sun, it’s not so good for your eyes.

If I’m shooting directly (or semi-directly) at the sun like this, I’ll try to use the LCD to compose my shot to avoid looking at the sun.

Another tip for these shots is that usually the sun will make the shot very hazy, but that is just the nature of the beast. In order to rectify this, I use high contrast and the blacks slider in Lightroom.

He goes…

1/100s . f/5.6 . ISO 100 . 55 mm

Scroogle frees you from biased Google searches

scroogle

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.

Italy Gallery Added

Sitting in a gondola, (Venice Italy)

1/320s . f/14.0 . ISO 1600 . 55 mm

I just added a gallery of shots from Italy (Venice, Florence, Pisa & Rome).  The above shot was taken sitting in a gondola in Venice.

The Albanian Flag is really cool

Who was gonna tell me? Some things you just have to find out for yourself.

Whoops (July 6, 2011)

1/100 - f/5.6 - 32mm - ISO 100

Seen yesterday (July 6, 2011).   I wonder when they’ll take it off.

Flowers on Park Avenue

Flowers on Park Avenue

1/1600s . f/11.0 . ISO 800 . 50 mm

It’s helpful to stoop low sometimes when you are shooting.  You’ll look a bit strange but you can get some very interesting angles.

Here’s a nice shot I took the other day of the flowers on Park Avenue.   If I were to re-do this shot I might try to widen my aperture (ie lower f number)  in order to blur out more of that busy background.  It’s tricky though because I don’t think I’d want it totally blurred though because otherwise there’d be no sense you are even in New York.

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