Sky-High Street Photography

We’re the couple in the castle

Way up high in the air” – Frank Loesser, Hoagy Carmichael

Today’s Post by Mildred Alpern

To shoot ”street photography” high up from the pavement below, you need a parallel perch and a super-telephoto lens. I have both and an intriguing subject as well.


First, a bit of background. New York City Local Law 11 requires that buildings with six or more stories have their facades, the exterior walls and attachments, inspected periodically.

Across the avenue from my apartment is a 1920 Art Nouveau Secessionist style building, handsome to be sure, but requiring expert maintenance on the linear ornamentation. Two workmen have been laboring for weeks to replace missing sections on the top two floors. It’s a tough job in summer heat and on a suspension scaffold they drill, weld, and hoist new ornamental blocks into place.


The lightweight and compact Olympus M. Zuiko 75-300mm lens lets me capture their movements handheld by zooming in on their efforts through my living room window. The closeups are sharp corner to corner and I am able to zero in on detail. However, to get a bird’s eye view of the scene, I need to switch to my prime Jackar 34mm lens (the subject of a future post).

So who is the “couple in the castle…in the air”? My husband and I, of course, on the highest floor of an Italian Renaissance style apartment building, constructed in 1914, my comfortable perch for “sky-high-street photography.”


All images were shot with the Olympus E-M5 Mark I. The single workman was shot with the Olympus M.Zuiko 75-300mm f/4.6-6.7 lens at 94mm with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/14 and ISO 400; the two workmen at 132mm with an exposure of 1/400 sec at f/7.1 and ISO 400. The bird’s eye view with the Jackar Snapshooter 34mm f/1.8 lens with an exposure of 1/250 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 400.