The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Jackson Avenue’ Category

conscious or subconscious

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I am the night. You have feasted well…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, while traversing through the so called Court Square area found around Davis and Jackson in LIC, a humble narrator found himself deploying the camera and shooting into the fuligin night. This was a bit of whimsy on my part, as I had just watched the premiere episode of the new television series “Gotham.” It seems that Batman’s home town is actually LIC, as so many of the spots where the shows’ urban dramaturge played out were ultimately familiar to one such as myself.

I figured I’d see if Bats was lurking anywhere nearby, or if I might unintentionally capture a shot of Two-Face or Joker while they skulked in the shadows.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was popping off a few exposures, one suddenly experienced a tap on the shoulder. A fellow was standing next to me, just a little too close for comfort, and watching as I played around with camera settings and assumed the series of odd postures which have proven themselves efficacious when attempting to gather low light shots without deploying a tripod. He said “Can I ask you a question?” as he slipped his hand into his knapsack. A child of New York in the 1980’s, and a Batman fan, I immediately began working out defensive solutions in my mind. There were five. Two would just put space between me and him, one would have busted his pelvis, and the other two would have put me in front of a judge for attempted homicide. The sixth solution was to wait, and find out what the question was.

He slowly pulled his hand out of the carry all, and there was something large – and heavy – held in his grasp. “Here we go again” I thought.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As his hand, grasping a large object which was black in coloration and clearly metallic, exited the bag – one was prepared to grab his wrist with my right hand and pull his arm and a probable weapon down toward the sidewalk and away from me. My left arm was primed to deliver a sharp elbow to his throat while I was simultaneously preparing to deliver a hip check that any NHL player would have approved of (this is one of the two solutions in which I end up in front of a judge). That’s when the fellow asked his question – “can you help me learn how to take better shots at night” as his hand finally emerged from the knap sack and produced a consumer level Nikon with an f3.5 zoom lens on it. Thereupon, a short lesson in aperture, ISO, and shutter speed ensued.

Gotham, indeed.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 30, 2014 at 11:00 am

ethereal harmoniousness

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Mystery is such a bother.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In another one of the dynamic and action packed moments which populate my days, your humble narrator was leaving LIC’s Sweetleaf coffee shop in LIC on Saturday when a cool car suddenly manifested itself within Jackson Avenue’s left turn lane for the Pulaski Bridge. The pillars of heaven began to shake, and the camera found itself deployed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, here’s the thing… one prides himself on the ability to focus in on any random thing found in the street and then finding out everything that can be reasonably discovered about it. This automobile has me stumped. Zooming in at a billion percent in photoshop shows the “lazy s” logo of the Studebaker company emblazoned on the red disks at the center of the wheel covers, but…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This car also resembles a 1939 Pontiac Deluxe 2 Door Coach in many ways, but there’s no “silver streak” running down the middle of the hood and the grill is all wrong for that model and then there’s those Studebaker logos on the wheels. Grrr. A four door version of the Pontiac model reveals a very similar silhouette to that exhibited by this car, however.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Nothing I’ve seen from South Bend, Indiana’s own Studebaker during the late 1930’s or early 40’s looks remotely like this. If there’s anyone out there with a specialized knowledge of the subject, please add a comment to this post and educate not just me but your fellow lords and ladies.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing was heading to Brooklyn, which is always kind of a mistake. Who would want to leave Queens?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

poppied silks

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Sweeping, ever sweeping.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The loudest of all municipal vehicles, other than certain members of the NYC Congressional delegation, has to be the street sweeping trucks operated by the DSNY. Heard this one coming from blocks away, spinning its steel brushes and singing its song of internal combustion.

Ever get hit with the pebbles, detritus, and other shrapnel these things spin off? Ow.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 28, 2013 at 7:30 am

shadowy colloquy

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Sometimes I fear that I will fail to feel Atychiphobic.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Failure is indeed something to fear, despite the platitudes offered by scout masters, clerics, and well meaning friends. There is nothing an American hates more than not succeeding. Winning is the name of our game, with contest winners and touchdown champions awarded the greatest of mass accolades. Think of poor old Mitt Romney, and I’ll bet it’s the first time you’ve thought of that loser since November of 2012. The only thing I’m more afraid of than failing, I think, is the idea of actually succeeding at something.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Should signs of success appear on the horizon, it is part of my nature to undermine and thwart its happy arrival. Perhaps it’s actually a fear of success which holds me back from living a life of deep meaning leading to a realization of some mythical “potential” that some have prophesied for me. It isn’t heredity, genetics, brain chemistry, or life experience that cordoned off the winners circle for me, though- instead it’s fate. Losing is a comfortable and well known experience, and I’m all about embracing the “known” rather than the undiscovered. Show me my foot, and I shall shoot it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Amongst the multitudinous things I fail to fear while submerged in my fits of Atychiphobia are a failure to anticipate, the failure to perceive, and inability to carry out a task properly and within specifications. I’m terrified of being considered generally undesirable or professionally unsuccessful, even though Murphy’s Law is the only jurisprudence which one such as myself can acknowledge or reminisce about. Cursed, I tell you, this humble narrator was born under the influence of a ill omen, which is probably all I deserve anyway, for if tales of reincarnation are true – one shudders to think what this soul did in its last mortal guise. Into the darkness, like a leaf blown upon indifferent winds, and always an Outsider – go I.

Upcoming Tours

Saturday – October 19, 2013
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale now.

Sunday- October 20th, 2013
The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek with Brooklyn Brainery- tickets on sale now.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

known gods

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It certainly has been quite an interesting life.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

No man is a failure who’s got friends, or so they told George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Homespun aphorism and Capraesque cliche notwithstanding, I would argue that having the wrong friends is a wholly different sort of failure which far outweighs the dollars and cents of conventional success. A loner, malcontent, and altogether difficult and argumentative know it all- your humble narrator’s few acquaintances tolerate my presence, but only in small doses.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

You’ve got to use it or lose it, but what if you never had “it” in the first place? One such as myself, bereft of natural advantages such as speed, grace, strength, or athletic prowess on any level knows full well the shame of fumbling, stumbling, and or striking out. The only advantage possessed by me is a rat like cunning, although given my standing amongst the humans it would be logical to presume that I would make a poor specimen of Rattus rattus.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Like some ancient mariner lost upon the storm tossed waves go I, lashed to the frozen deck of a broken life. My wants and desires are nonexistent beyond the purely existential issues of food and shelter, as I have long ago given up pursuit of material success. There is no plan, things just happen, and the daily round is just a series of dull events. Your humble narrator is not at all driven by avarice, vainglory, or ambition in the ways that most are. Just think of me solely as the battered, the disabused, the disenfranchised, and always an outsider- if you feel the strong urge to categorize or quantize me.

Upcoming Tours

Saturday – October 19, 2013
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale soon.

Sunday- October 20th, 2013
The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek with Brooklyn Brainery- tickets on sale now

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

moon cast

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The center of the earth is the end of the world, if you think about it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Night shooting has been something which I have been working on for the last six months or so. The problem presented by lowered illumination is the need for equipment such as tripods and lighting devices such as flashes. Spontaneous moments of joy such as a train entering the elevated station are denied by such techniques. I’m a handheld kind of guy, I’m afraid, but I hate the distracting presence of color noise and the weird oranges it produces. High ISO night shots are necessarily noisy, but produce weird colors straight out of the camera- especially under the influence of NY Cty street lamps which are kind of yellow anyway.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent acquisition of a brighter lens (capable of large apertures) than the one I normally use as my general contractor has aided immensely in the pursuit of working around both my limitations and those of the capture device. The remarkable Sigma 18-35 allows for apertures as bright as 1.8, and is sharper than heck, and it is currently jutting out of the camera obscenely- it’s a very nice piece of glass. The problem which I’ve been trying to solve is a purely digital one presented by the camera software itself, and the incongruities encountered between capturing the image and processing it. I’ve long worked as an advertising photo retoucher, what can I tell you, this is the sort of stuff one ponders.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The image, as captured by the camera, is assigned settings whose parameters are determined by an onboard suite of software which assesses and assigns color temperatures when it is written to card. The camera also sets the shot to certain levels of bright and shadow, contrast and saturation. The camera, except in bright sunlight, almost always gets it wrong. Fixing these matters in a compressed format like jpeg is not so easy, so I shoot in raw format which allows me to noodle things around a little bit and get the image a little it closer to what I actually experienced in situ.

What I’ve been working on, feverishly, is using the information typically captured in the raw file (a 16 bit file richer in image data than an 8 bit jpeg) to create a predictive shooting protocol. In English- trying to figure out what the camera sees, and why, and creating a series of moves on the raw image to better represent the real life colors and range of tone which exist within the range of human vision. Nowhere even close yet, but I’m starting to think that the path lays before me.

Here’s a tip- canon’s higher iso settings produce a huge amount of noise on the red and green plates, shifting an image to colder temperatures will reduce the color noise significantly.

Upcoming Tours

Saturday- September 21, 2013
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale now.

Saturday- September 28, 2013
Newtown Creek Boat Tour with the Working Harbor Committee- tickets on sale now.

Saturday – October 19, 2013
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale soon.

Sunday- October 20th, 2013
The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek with Brooklyn Brainery- tickets on sale now

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

fiercely and menacingly

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Darkness reaches out for darkness.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Negativity and the desolation of loneliness can turn an otherwise wholesome individual into a warped and twisted crone, I believe, one whose daily round is described by ignoring their own condition and place while casting a yellowed eye of jealousy about. Those who seek, those who find, those who discover- these are the ones whom these corrupted individuals find loathsome. They close ranks, proclaim themselves to be an elite, and forget the lessons of history.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Corruption is a term bandied about often in public circles, often referring to a “quid pro quo” between a government representative of some ilk and an illicit activity performed by another which is “swept under the rug” in connection with some sort of monetary or social reward. Religious leaders opine that if one is offered a glass of dirty versus clean water, all will choose the latter, but these people believe in a fairy tale wherein an omnipotent entity waits in the sky to adjudicate over and welcome the dead. What one observes in the daily round however, especially over in the Shining City, has nothing to do with that ideal. There, baser desires and other supernatural imperatives are adhered to.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The self appointed elites of that Shining City reel, for their chosen champion has received a sound thrashing in a recent plebiscite, something that was plain to see coming for anyone who exists in this megalopolis beyond the rivers. Corruption as described above was never the cause of this defeat, instead it was a different form of corruption which damned their eidelon, that of hubris. They have feasted long and well, these elites. Meal time is over, and its time for the rest of us to serve them all a rich and well deserved desert.

Upcoming Tours

Saturday- September 21, 2013
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale now.

Saturday- September 28, 2013
Newtown Creek Boat Tour with the Working Harbor Committee- tickets on sale now.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 18, 2013 at 11:13 am

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