The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘sunnyside

public building

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Sunnyside Yard, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everybody always asks me how I get these shots, or about certain qualities in them. Simple answer is that I’m always experimenting with the camera, and when I come up with some protocol for “how to get this or that” my next move is usually to reverse it and see what happens.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, my friend, practice.

The setting: Recently, an evening meeting carried one up the hill from the elluvial flatlands of Southern Astoria to the heights of the ridge which Sunnyside was built into. Between these two neighborhoods, there’s a former tidal swamp into which the Sunnyside Yard was embedded back in the first decade of the 20th century. Once the largest rail coach yard on earth, the Yard still hosts the busiest rail junction found on the continent, the so called Harold Interlocking. The busy part is due to the frequent passage of Long Island Railroad commuter rail trains, which share the switches and rails with Amtrak.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The conditions: Sunset to the west, which I was going to be shooting right into. The weather was humid, and a bit misty. The point of view is surrounded by steel plated chain link fencing whose purpose is to deny observation of vulnerable infrastructure (I’m told that this fencing was installed during the first decade of the Terror Wars). One such as myself has a vast catalog of fence holes and gaps which are dearly held, and since my meeting in Sunnyside would carry one past an entire series of these occluded viewpoints, a point was made to pocket one of my lenses small enough to fit into while leaving HQ. I also brought some chewing gum, but that’s not important.

My “good lenses,” which are used in particularly high rotation, have a circumference too large for these cracks in the walls around the Sunnyside Yard – so a “decent” lens which has a decidedly smaller diameter was employed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “decent lens” mentioned is the so called “nifty fifty” offered by Canon. It’s far and away my most inexpensive tool, and allows wide open apertures which would make it handy for night time shots but for its persnickety focusing mechanics. The term for what it does, autofocus wise, is called “hunting.” What that means is that it noisily rolls through the range of focus and never quite settles itself into a lock. My usual habit with this sort of thing is to use autofocus to “get it close” and then switch the thing over to manual focus for final adjustment.

The optic formula of the lens also renders things a bit less “contrasty” than I’d like, but you can’t really complain about camera equipment which retails for around a hundred bucks – especially when it fits through fence holes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The methodology: For those of you not in the know, as to how cameras and lenses work – a “bright lens” will allow you to operate it at wide apertures (f1.8 in the instance of the nifty fifty). Wide apertures create a tremendous “depth of field” effect, which means that the area which is in focus will appear sharply delineated and everything else will be blurred. Higher aperture settings – the “f-stops” as it were – will create a hyperfocal range in which everything in frame will be sharply defined. The lower the “f-stop” the more light enters the camera, and the higher ones allow less light to get to the sensor. You balance the shot using shutter speed and ISO settings. Night shots and interior spaces require you to use the lens “wide open,” with slow shutter speeds, and higher ISO settings – all of which introduce certain quality issues to the captured image.

The shots in today’s post were consciously captured with the desire to have “everything” in focus, with a minimum of motion blur as well, and to record a full range of color and tone. Difficult to do with the sun behind the scene, and in a setting where everything is made of contrasting reflective surfaces.

My formula was to actually reverse my night shooting protocol on 2/3rds of the exposure triangle, using a very narrow f-stop and fairly fast shutter speed, but with a high ISO setting for tone and color sensitivity (f10, 1/1250th of a second, ISO 800). Sometimes, particularly during the summer, the problem isn’t that there enough light – there’s actually too much of it and some methodology needs to be employed to control it. Experimentation and failure often emanate from screwing around with your normal shooting habits, but sometimes it pays to mix things up a bit.

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Upcoming Tours –

July 12th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

unmistakeable facades

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Announcing a new walking tour, the Skillman Corridor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Obscura Day is Atlas Obscura’s global outing, and this year I’m going to be offering a new walking tour that has been in the works for awhile now – The Skillman Avenue Corridor. This will explore the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards, descending from the heights of Sunnyside to the flood plain of the Newtown Creek’s tributary Dutch Kills.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As long time readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle, know – Skillman Avenue is one of my “happy hunting grounds” for photographic pursuits. Those of you who share the same obsessions with infrastructure and photography thereof that possess me will find this an immensely satisfying experience. Along the way, the history of Sunnyside Yards and the industrial giants which surround it will be explored.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We will also be visiting Dutch Kills next weekend with Atlas Obscura (May 16, see the link below), on the 13 steps tour, which was actually premiered on Obscura Day several years ago. The Skillman Corridor is the first of several new tours which I’m conjuring up that aren’t directly “Newtown Creek” oriented which will occur in LIC, btw.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor 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.

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.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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

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

A Short History of the Sunnyside Yards

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A little video action for you, in today’s post.

– photos by Mitch Waxman

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 18, 2015 at 11:00 am

festoons of green

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A St. Pat’s one shot today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I fully realize that you’ve seen this shot before, but god help me, I just love it so. Big time fancy dancy post coming tomorrow, have your seatbelts on for Wednesday and happy St. Pat’s.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 17, 2015 at 12:31 pm

not permitted

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A line in the sand, at the Sunnyside Yards, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Examinations of the plans elicited by the Mayor of New York City, a self professed “progressive” who has puzzlingly embraced the dream of Michael Bloomberg’s right hand man Dan Doctoroff to deck over the Sunnyside Yards, are disturbing. The scale of the project is frankly Federal in size, and the amount of debt which would be absorbed by the municipality in pursuit of it… conservative estimates would place the cost of the deck – just the deck – at around 200 billion dollars. That’s based on the $20 billion it’s costing to deck the relatively tiny 26.17 Hudson Yards. According to documents obtained from official sources, the Sunnyside Yards project would encompass some 200 acres. Do the math.

Remember, that number you just calculated is only for the deck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Sunnyside Yards are not connected to the City’s sewer grid. The Sunnyside Yards are not connected to the electrical, gas, or water delivery systems. The 11.2 thousand “affordable” apartments which the Mayor is using to sell this project are part of an 80/20 project. As City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer recently stated, and as reported at sunnysidepost.com,

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told members of the Hunters Point Civic Association on Tuesday that 70,000 to 80,000 units might need to be built in order to attract developers to construct the affordable units.

“To get to the 11,200-odd…the number of units could be as high as 70,000 to 80,000 on Sunnyside Yards,” Van Bramer said, since developers typically require market rate apartments to offset the cost of constructing affordable units.

This would result in “a massive, massive development on the scale we have never seen before in western Queens that will affect Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and Woodside,” he said.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing that no one seems to be discussing, however, is infrastructure. $200 billion would build you around 175 Kosciuszko Bridges. It could also build you around 20 sewer plants. What we’re not talking about are hospital beds, nor Police, Fire, Sanitation, School desks, and all the other municipal services that would accompany a build out of this scale. City Planning works off of a formula which speculates that the lifetime of any new residential building is 35 years. Does NYC have the budget to support the municipal services for this new population over the next 35 years, and shouldn’t we be calculating that as part of the cost of this project?

80,000 apartments would bring 150-200,000 new people into our community. The population of Albany, for instance is 98,424 (as of 2013).

Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated that he’s against the Mayor’s plan. That’s because Andrew Cuomo is from Queens. Talk to anyone in Queens, and they’ll agree with him. This plan is entirely about Manhattan, and the singular question which I’m continually asking is:

How, in any way, would this be good for Queens?

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