The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Subway

richly draped

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A few random shots from around Queens, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on Steinway Street, here in almond eyed Astoria, these iconic representations of the Disney corporation seemed to just be chilling out in front of the Salvation Army thrift store the other day. Not sure what the story is with the ghostly one on the right, maybe it’s the “Mickey of Christmas Past” or some other Dickensian (Mickensian, perhaps) meme.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was heading into the City one day last week, performing my usual exercises with exposure and camera settings while waiting on the Subway platform when I got this shot. Don’t know why, by I just kind of like it. I do wonder what the fellow on the left was listening to on those headphones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The angle between Woodside and Sunnyside, as well as the convergence of Greenpoint and Roosevelt Avenues with Queens Blvd., there’s something about this paritcular intersection that one such as myself finds visually interesting. A point is made to pop off a few exposures whenever I’m passing by, which in this case was on my way to visit Second Calvary over in Woodside.

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Upcoming Tours –

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 6, 2015 at 11:00 am

nothing now

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Twirling, ever twirling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The POV at the 40th Lowery Street stop on the 7 train causes my jaw to drop everytime I see it. Given what it costs for acccess to the observation deck at “Top of the Rock” or the Empire State Building, the MTA really delivers value for money – view wise – here on Queens Blvd. Turn your head to the left – you can spy the Kosciuszko Bridge, look straight ahead and its the whole soup bowl of Manhattan, and to the right there’s Hells Gate Bridge. This view is fortuitous, as at least you have some diversion while wondering when the train will arrive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This spring, I’m trying to mix things up a bit and do some shooting in parts of Western Queens which aren’t part of my normal “thing.” There’s a bit of tumult going on between my ears at the moment, so the curative – as always – is to just get out and do some photographing in challenging places. To wit, the combination of bright and dark offered by the 7 tracks as they exit Woodside and head towards Jackson Heights along Roosevelt Avenue. Exposing for both lighting conditions is a wicked conumndrum, camera wise, but all of the shooting I’ve been experimenting with in the underground system pays a certain dividend when attempting this sort of thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Roosevelt Avenue is, of course, pretty much antithetical to anyone who desires solitude or quiet. The blasting sound of passing trains that cascades down form the elevated’s steel is monstrous. One thing which always staggers the European University people whom I’ll conduct tours of Newtown Creek or Long Island City for is noise. It seems that the EU is several decades ahead of us in terms of what they legally define as “pollution” and that endemic urban background noise is taken as seriously as bad water or air.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

sinister resignation

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Gotham City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been getting a big kick out of the “Gotham” television series. For those unfamiliar, it’s a prequel to the Batman storyline, focusing in on its early days when Bruce Wayne was but a child. The titular focus of the series is on the future Police Commissioner of Gotham City, James Gordon, and viewers get to meet early versions of the rogue’s gallery. Fun show.

What I’ve been particularly entertained by, of course, are the abundance of set pieces in Western Queens. The Waynes die on Davis Street between the Sunnyside Yard and Jackson Avenue, for instance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Most of Gotham’s shots are digitally altered in some way, adding in skyscrapers or changing the shapes of instantly recognizable “NYC” landmarks, but just about everywhere they go on that show is quite familiar to me. Our Lady of the Pentacle has had to endure me pointing at the television screen whilst shouting out “hey, that’s John Quadrozzi’s pier in Red Hook” more than once.

When I’ve been out and about in recent weeks, on more than one occasion the thought that “LIC really is Gotham City, isn’t it?” has formed up some three inches behind my eyes. That led me to start casting the show with people I know, of course.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The question is, of course, which one of our local billionaires is going to start dressing up in black leather and emerging from his manse to beat the tar out of poor people in the dead of night, with the defacto endorsement of the Commissioner of Police. If any of you spot an elaborately outfitted automobile speeding along Jackson Avenue, particularly one with some sort of design motif related to bats – well…

If you see something, say something.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 24, 2015 at 11:00 am

swirling away

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The whole 7 train thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t live along this particular subway line, the 7, but many of my friends in Sunnyside and Jackson Heights are finding themselves driven to a state absolute despair by its recent troubles. Over at my Brownstoner column, a report on the subway situation was offered, and a description of a recent rally held by NYC Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer protesting the increasingly unreliable service was described here. On Facebook, a group page called #7trainblues has sprung up, where affected riders can express their ennui.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long time Sunnyside residents tell me that they used to enjoy a 20 minute commute into Manhattan, a journey which can now take up to 45 minutes on a good day. In all fairness, the MTA’s outdoor lines were all hit rather hard by the recent spate of arctic weather in February, but the 7 train’s average “on time” rate is a few percentage points below that of the rest of the system – according to experts with whom I’ve consulted. Factor in an astounding 22 weeks of weekend track work and signal system upgrades – which turns service off completely, and you can understand the amount of pique which is growing in the neighborhood towards the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are certain things which Government employees do not understand about the private sector, as it is outside of their personal experience. Nobody gets out of work at five p.m. anymore in corporate America, as municipal employees still do. Nobody in the private sector can say “I don’t work weekends” or “sorry that’s a holiday” or “that’s not my job” anymore, and we haven’t been able to do so since the late 90’s. Recently, I found myself on the R at 9 p.m. on a Sunday, and it was standing room only. Similarly crowded conditions are observed at all hours of the day, and rush hour has become something of a cautionary tale told by Queensicans to their children.

The proletariat has responded to the municipal call to abandon the automobile and use mass transit instead, it would be nice if the MTA wasn’t making us regret that decision on a regular basis.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

glaze fishily

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Working in the dark, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The problem and challenge with photography is actually light, usually there’s either entirely too much or not nearly enough.The reason you’ve all been subjected to so many shots of Subways entering and leaving stations in the last year has been that I’ve been experimenting with different techniques and camera settings down there, trying to find some sort of predictable formula which might govern my actions when shooting in the dark. The Subway system provides for a difficult to photograph set of conditions – it’s both dark and bright, full of reflective things zipping around, humans, and there’s LED signs which break up at anything slower than 160th of a second… Add to that the MTA prohibition against camera support – tripods and the like – and you’ve got yourself a real pickle. I’ve developed a few formulas for hand held low light photography down there.

When you get above ground, the formulaic triad of iso/aperture/shutter offers some real potential.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is what it looks like deep under East New York, over in Brooklyn. This was also a serious “get the shot” challenge as the window of the C train I was on was caked with briny crap. The C is cool, because you can still look out the front window and see what the conductor sees as the subway shoots through the kingdoms of the rat.

This shot, and the one below, were part of long chain of failed shots. A high failure rate is assured, as the subway car is jiggling about and you are being jolted about in random directions. The camera is held against the window, with one hand used as a gasket between it and the actual lens. The difficulty, and high failure rate, are due to the great care exercised in not being bodily thrust forward which would either drive the camera through the window or render the lens inoperable.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above actually had what I call the “entire bag of photoshop hammers” thrown at it. Again, combatting the filthy train window, I pulled and pushed the pixels of the original digital negative file until I got some semblance of balance between dark and light. There’s something I like about the deep focus and the leading lines. Sort of like entering warp speed, which is something that the MTA isn’t exactly known for.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another leading line “infinity” shot from the other night, captured in the preternatural darkness of Astoria’s 31st street. To make things even more complicated, it was raining, which meant that in addition to operating the camera I had to manage an umbrella as well. New York City never looks as good as it does when it’s raining, at night.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 12, 2015 at 11:30 am

bleak plateau

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In the Cold Wastes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sporadic intervals during which one has been “out and about” in February have been infrequent, but somewhat entertaining. Just last weekend, when a short period of warmth occurred, the ice pack retreated and released several examples of Queens’s native art form – illegal dumping – for inspection. Above, a series of flash frozen berries and a small bottle of perhaps wine was observed in Sunnyside reemerging into the open air.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The streets have been noticeably quiet around Astoria’s Steinway Street, which is normally a tumult of the old vibrant diversity and the caterwaul of honking automotive horns. It’s an “Astoria thing” incidentally, honking your car’s horn. Should another driver dare to slow down to let a passenger exit the vehicle, the custom hereabouts is to activate the horn and keep it operating until the offending vehicle clears a path for you. “How dare you slow me down, incrementally” seems to be the thought process at work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another unusually inactive point of view at Queens Blvd., nearby Aviation High School. The Boulevard of Death normally teems with traffic heading east and west, and it is somewhat disconcerting to see it abandoned by all but a few autos and the Q32 bus. Did everyone else get invited to a party that I wasn’t invited to? Such is the lot of a humble narrator, always a bride’s main, never the bride.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 5, 2015 at 12:04 pm

coarse brains

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Sorry for the late post today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was up late nursing a sick iPad back to healthy functionality, and my Wednesday didn’t start until what most would refer to as lunchtime. Technological vagaries notwithstanding, the NY Daily news ran a piece today that confirms many of my worst fears about the sweating concrete bunkers which underlie the streets of NYC, which I’ve often referred to as the kingdoms of the rat. Check it out here.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 4, 2015 at 2:02 pm

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