The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for April 20th, 2012

darkness and silence

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, a humble narrator has been spending some time and effort in pursuit of filling in a lack of nocturnal photographs in my library of Newtown Creek shots. While in the midst of this on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, just last week, I heard the bells and whistles signaling the approach of a NY & Atlantic freight train.

The thing kind of snuck up on me, as my headphones were actively pumping out a carefully selected playlist of mid-career Motörhead. Lemmy Kilmeister, you must understand, is far louder than any mere locomotive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These are the sort of “night shots” which I’m trying not to get. High ISO, selectively focused, and overly grainy- all of which was actually unavoidable. Simply put, if you’re “hand holding” the camera and it’s dark, one must open the lens up- losing deep focus- and increase the “ISO sensitivity” of the camera, which introduces grain. Ideally, you’ve got the thing on a tripod, which I didn’t.

My other camera was set up with specialized night gear, but there was no way to get it set it up in time when surprised by the sudden appearance of the train.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Out came my dslr, and with the help of a fortuitously placed hole in the fence of the GPA Bridge, the camera could be steadied and these shots were gained. This is probably not a terribly exciting tale to relate, but every photographer will understand my frustrations. Digital cameras are a technology still in infancy, and the form factor and capabilities of the things are still influenced by the shape and metaphor of older devices which used chemical emulsions (film) for recording.

One is reminded of 1960’s and 70’s televisions built into cabinetry it shared with “hi-fi” stereos, or clock radios. When will we forget the metaphor of a film camera and allow these devices to flower into their own?

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