The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

anytime, anywhere

with 7 comments

A few shots from last week’s blizzard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given a humble narrator’s legendary vulnerability to cold, as you might have guessed, I spent most of the blizzard last Saturday firmly ensconced in the steam heated walls of Newtown Pentacle HQ in Astoria. I did venture outside during the afternoon to visit the bodega across the street for breakfast cereals, I like a bowl of Cheerios with a banana cut into it, and to vouchsafe a bar of chocolate for Our Lady of the Pentacle.

When venturing into the cold waste, I discovered that at least one Chinese restaurant was open, and offering delivery services. Early bird gets the worm and all that, but… Jaysis.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were those who had decided to try and motor about, this was before the Mayor banned automotive traffic, but they were soundly rebuffed by road conditions. It was actually kind of difficult just to crack out a couple of exposures due to wind blown snow, which tended to “spot” the lens, let alone cross the street.

Luckily, most of the neighbors didn’t attempt to drive, and the streets were eerily quiet hereabouts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The only thing you saw much of were Municipal vehicles like the ambulance pictured above. One neat thing was that everyone in the neighborhood was given the opportunity to recognize the undercover vehicles which the 114th pct utilizes after the Mayor’s ban on travel was enacted.

After 2:30 p.m., anything you saw on Broadway was basically “blue” or “red.” Or Green, Orange, and a White in the case of the sanitation guys.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having purchased my Cheerios and Chocolate, I began to scuttle back towards home, and one of the hundreds of plow trucks operated by DSNY rolled by. The annual Astoria problem has begun again, incidentally. As happened last year, and the year before – recycling pickup was cancelled due to Martin Luther King day. Recycling in my neighborhood is Sunday night’s problem, so it is up to us to store the stuff in anticipation of the following weekend. Now, we’ve got a blizzard’s worth of snow, so recycling pickup is again postponed till next week.

Last year, a series of similar cold weather events and legal holidays pushed the storage of the entire month of January’s recycling trash until well past President’s day in February.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in HQ, and with no intentions of leaving the place, one nevertheless used the fortuitous positioning of the building relative to the prevailing wind in pursuance of a few shots in the evening. As you’ll recall, this is when the storm really got rolling. I set up a tripod and all my night shooting gear, but in the end elected to use low light techniques for the shots.

The long exposure methodology effectively eliminated the falling snow from the shots, and since I wanted to have a “truer” record of the event – I went for high ISO and a faster shutter speed to capture the drifting snowflakes. As is always the case, getting the color temperature of the light was critical, and for the new LED street lights that’s 4300 Kelvin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Got to hand it to the neighbors, they were fighting this storm while it was at full force and attempting to keep their cars from being completely buried in the drifts. The different technologies of street lighting which were discussed a couple of weeks ago – the old school orange yellow sodium lights versus the new school led blue colored lights can be discerned in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The new school LED’s actually performed quite well during the storm, I would add.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The buildup of a shelf of snow on my window sill while shooting inspired me to shove a couple of flashlights into it and get a macro shot of the translucent accumulation. These lights are part of what I call my “ghetto lighting” rig. Ghetto as in I have zero funds for real lighting and therefore have been forced to jury rig a set, which given my normal shooting habits – needs to easily portable. The warm light and blue light are formed by identical and quite powerful LED flash lights which can pump out an amazing 300 Lumens and are powered by just 3 AAA batteries each. That’s actually kind of amazing, but I’m a flashlight geek, and will jump up and down if you say “Cree.”

The warmer light is created by the flashlight having an old pill bottle gaff taped to its head.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 29, 2016 at 11:00 am

7 Responses

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  1. “President’s Day” . . . NOW you’ve got me started. Maybe it’s spelled “Presidents’ Day”, honoring more than one President as opposed to your spelling it honoring just one President? . . . Here’s the deal: that late February holiday is GEORGE WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY.

    There is no such thing as President’s Day, Presidents’ Day, or Presidents Day (without the apostrophe. Think about it, those who get it wrong don’t even know how to spell it rightly wrongly or wrongly rightly.)

    Don’t believe me? Check it out officially here:

    This Prez-Day NONSENSE was instituted by the advertising industry to sell cars, mattresses and liquor.

    But it denigrates the GREAT Washington – the Father of our Country who has been knocked off his venerable pedestal by the forces of political correctness and stupidity.

    Mitch, wont you join me in fighting this PC and stupidity? Join me in calling the holiday what it is: George Washington’s Birthday.

    georgetheatheist . . . I cannot tell a lie.

    January 29, 2016 at 11:55 am

  2. PS Nice storm pix. You do use an ultraviolet or skylight filter to protect the lens?

    georgetheatheist . . . I cannot tell a lie.

    January 29, 2016 at 12:06 pm

  3. PPS: Here’s why open letter of 2 years ago to Tony Barsamian at the Queens Gazette (a stone’s throw from your abode) regarding this Washington’s Birthday issue:

    http://georgetheatheist.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-queens-gazette-misleads-readers-on.html

    georgetheatheist . . . I cannot tell a lie.

    January 29, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    • Let’s spread the word and “retake” the holiday for the great Washington. The truth shall set you free! Now you, Esteemed Reader of the Mitch Waxman blog can laugh your heads off at the idiots that continue to use that P-Day appellation. BTW, Barsamian at the Gazette never acknowledged my missive referred to above. Let’s keep an extra sharp eye on the Gazette to see if he learned his lesson.

      I always use a clear filter of some sort to protect each one of my lenses’ front glass elements. When I sold lenses in the past for example at B&H, the first thing the buyer looked at was the condition of the front element. Any scratches thereon and quite often the sale is off. Better to scratch up a $20-30 filter than the lens.

      georgetheatheist . . . I cannot tell a lie.

      January 29, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      • agreed, however, night photography wise it also sets up a reflection box. My sigma 18-35 and canon 50 are naked, whereas my canon 24-105 L always has a uv filter on, except in those rare cases when I’m using it on a tripod.

        Mitch Waxman

        January 29, 2016 at 5:34 pm


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