The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for January 4th, 2010

Catherine Turecamo at HellsGate, and camera news

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Technical upgrades have occurred here in Pentacle HQ. A new DSLR, which was quite unaffordable, has been purchased from the unknowable levantines at BH Photo. The trusty Canon G10, in use since its issuance in late 2008, is off to Canon for warranty service owing to the defects that have appeared on its lens. Said scratches seem to originate from the mechanical action of the external housing which are meant to protect the lens element. These scratches have, after shooting some 17,000 exposures in the last year, become quite noticeable and are getting in the way. The G10 will return to Newtown Pentacle service upon repair, and is highly recommended to all for its versatile nature, manual shooting modes, ability to save in RAW format, and crisp lens- although it falls apart in low light and is useless at high ISO speeds. The flash is also pathetic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Deciding to take the plunge into the DSLR world, our lady of the Pentacle and myself worked out a budget, and research on what was available in my price point began. Things narrowed to the Nikon D90 and Canon Rebel T1i (or 500D). The Nikon is wielded by a buddy of mine to great effect, and offers the promise of a “full size” sensor. The Nikon ecosystem of accessory lenses and other bits is also a little less expensive than commensurate equipment in the Canon range. The Canon, however, matches the 15 megapixel spec of the G10 (also a Canon) and also offers an operating system that seemed a bit more organic to me. I use a Mac, always have, and have quit jobs that forced me to use a windows PC in the past. Organic matters to me, which is why a Sony camera was never considered. (imho Sony makes the best Hardware-Everything, and the worst software-Everything).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, having spent a ton of money I don’t have, the plunge was taken on the Canon T1i and a couple of decent lenses. Of course, this is after “the season” for photography in New York, which is actually most of the time- just not in December and January. Harsh shadow and blown highlights, overcast skies and leaden water- trademarks of the winter sun here in the Newtown Pentacle- the angle and frequency of the light is all wrong except in the early morning and late afternoon. Photography types term this as “golden hour”, which somehow sounds “dirty” to me.

So, on one of the few sunny days enjoyed of late, your humble narrator pulled the filthy black raincoat off its hook and scuttled forth to find what I could find. Hells Gate is always a good choice for experimenting with a new gizmo. Astoria Park is just about as safe these days as you can expect to be when out in public, and there’s always something interesting going on. I shot these with the “long lens”, which is fancy way of saying telephoto.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Catherine Turecamo, a 1972 vintage 199 ton 3,200 HP tugboat, operated by the Moran towing company. It was built at the Main Iron Works in Louisiana as the MIss Lynn.


Moran Towing Corporation has provided tugboat services to the Port of New York since 1860. The company began with Michael Moran’s purchase of-one-half interest in a tugboat. In the years since, the fleet with the white M logo on its stacks has become the largest in the port,and on the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts. The port of New York-New Jersey provides access to the most concentrated and affluent consumer market in the world. Its facilities include terminals operated by the Port Authority of NY & NJ and privately operated terminals. Over 16 million tons of cargo pass through the port on an annual basis, transported aboard various types of ships, including container ships, tankers and barges. The New York division also services the Port of Albany, located 145 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. Albany is a hub for commercial trade in its region, due to its proximity to the New York State Barge Canal and its excellent inland transportation network.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The new camera was a little awkward to handle at first, and I was self conscious of it as well. This was a big “honking” camera, weighing four times what my familiar “rangefinder-sized” G10 did. I practiced tracking the tugboat with it, zooming in and out and so on. I think the shots came out alright- if you click through to the photo’s Flickr page and check out its larger incarnations- you’ll see some real detail in them. This is one of the places where the higher megapixel count of the Canon matters to me, and justified buying into its franchise.

Trust me on this one, I’m an advertising retoucher photoshop guy by day, and resolution matters. A lot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m only a couple of thousand shots in, a month later. Its been a busy month somehow, with holiday obligation and hiding in my warm burrow awaiting spring. Meanwhile, I’ll be learning how to use this new gizmo.

Incidentally, on the subject of gizmos, anyone out there have anything to say on geotagging? Leave me a comment or contact me, if you do.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 4, 2010 at 1:56 am

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