The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

uncouth syllables

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The dark months of the winter offer few opportunities for me to go out shooting, as the times when “the light is good” are limited to an hour or two in the morning (I’m a late riser) and a similar interval in the mid afternoon. Luckily, during one of these narrow moments recently, I found myself in Long Island City in an area which I refer to as “the Fedora District”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The trick with light during the winter all comes down to the angle of the sun. The sky flung monoliths and tall slabs of masonry which distinguish New York City are illuminated in a harsh fashion during the winter months, resulting in deep shadow adjoining light blasted highlights. At the end and beginning of the day, however, the sun hangs low in the sky and provides long and cooly colored shadows interacting with bright and often orange illumination.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Miserably dim nevertheless, the sun appears bright to the human eye, but photographic pursuits betray its dimness. Sacrifices in image fidelity and the presence of visible grain brought on by high ISO settings annoy me, and the aforementioned darkness coupled with an omnipresent atmospheric haze force me to avoid the long depth of field and detailed clarity which I normally attempt to capture, so I focus in on the near rather than the far during the winter.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m one of those people who carries a camera everywhere I go, a practice which causes no end of annoyance to those whom I encounter on a daily basis. An obstacle which has been very difficult to overcome, now conquered, is the violation of the social normative which one encounters when whipping out “the rig” and clicking away in the midst of the vast human hive.

There are some, often members of various branches of law enforcement, who perceive my interest in recording the daily round as an act of aggression and suspicious at best.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing is, and allow me to wax a bit more rhapsodically than usual here, is that Long Island City as we know it today will be inextricably altered (as it already has been) within the next decade and that time grows short to record and document the transition. Will the future know about the gruff beauty of the place, or the delicate interplay of reflected sunlight upon centuries old wood, as they wander about an antiseptic landscape of glass and steel?

When the Sapphire Megalith is a relict, and the ever watching thing that dwells at its apex has grown senile and blind, will anyone remember what this place once was?

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 28, 2011 at 12:15 am

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