The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for August 2018

unusually odd

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Friday odds and ends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

MOOOOOON. That’s what I said. Ultimately I should have said “cable clutter” since that’s what you notice first. I will never understand how the spectrum/rcn/Verizon people are allowed to get away with this sort of thing in Queens. The City will hand out tickets for looking at something too long in this Borough, treats local businesses like a cash register with fines for minor infractions, and polices parking like clockwork. We have DSNY inspectors picking through the trash, building inspectors ordering sidewalk replacements all willy nilly, but when it comes to the metric shit ton of dead wires hanging off the utility poles – nada.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same sort of thing applies over in Brooklyn, as a note. If your home had a cracked water pipe, the DEP would gladly bill you for every gallon and then fine you for the flow going into their sewers. When it’s the City, on the other hand…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing in the Sapphire Megalith just laughs.

Have a great Labor Day weekend, Lords and Ladies – I’ll be walking amongst you in the shadowed edges, amongst the revenants and along the remnants.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 31, 2018 at 11:00 am

malignity expressed

with one comment

Nighted travels on the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In yesterday’s post, I described the… nana nana nana Bat Boat!…. excursion I joined in with that my pals at Newtown Creek Alliance and NYC Audubon had organized which saw some three dozen bat enthusiasts take to the water in search of the children of the night. Today, here’s a few shots I cracked out on the way back to the North Brooklyn Boat Club dock in Greenpoint found alongside the Puslaski Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From the “operating the camera” POV, these were actually kind of difficult shots to gather. It was crazy dark, as there aren’t many light sources directed at the water, and when there are they’re explosively bright like the ones on the Kosciuszcko Bridge. Generally speaking, I was using two of my “night lenses” which offer apertures as wide as f1.8.

Shooting “wide open,” however, introduces an extremely shallow depth of field into the shots. It’s quite the endeavor to find a focal point which offers an acceptable level of sharpness to the entire shot at these settings. Things were further complicated by the fact that I was in a giant canoe with six other people who were all rowing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A lot of the “shooting in the subways” stuff I do is in preparation for opportunities like this, which in the past have produced few or no usable shots. Practice, practice, practice – that’s how you get to Carnegie Hall. 

Oddly enough, for the last few weeks, I’ve found myself shooting at f1.8 in bright sunlight, with insanely fast shutter speeds like 1/6000th of a second. What can I say, I like to “mix it up.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Frequent commenter George the Atheist asked yesterday, in a comment, about the safety aspect of paddling around in Newtown Creek. I offered a short reply, but here’s the official story:

The stuff you really have to worry about are the bottom sediments, the so called “black mayonnaise” which is about 20-30 feet down. If you’re coming into contact with that, you’ve got a whole other series of problems going on which involve a lack of buoyancy and oxygen deprivation. As far as the biological activity in the water, that’s determined ultimately by the last time that it rained, and whether or not that rain has triggered the “combined sewer outfalls” to release untreated wastewater into the creek.

My pals at North Brooklyn Boat Club who were running the expedition are seriously good at their jobs, and everybody out with us were wearing life vests. Additionally, T. Willis Elkins of North Brooklyn Boat Club (and NCA project manager) is in charge of the water testing program at NCA and if he says its “Kosher” to go out paddling you can take that to the bank.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying that, you’d definitely want to wash up after paddling around and certainly before picking up a chunk of food and sticking it into your mouth. In my mind, you’d want to do that anytime you eat, especially after engaging in hand shaking activities with people you meet.

I hate that plague passing custom, as a note, especially when I’m doing a tour and thirty strangers all want to shake hands. One insists on touching elbows instead, if need be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As we were returning to the dock at North Brooklyn Boat Club, I whipped out a pocket flashlight and illuminated this juvenile Night Heron. The bird then proceeded to lunge at us, aiming its path at my head.

Everyone, and every thing, hates me.


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 30, 2018 at 11:00 am

well marked

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Nana nana nana, Batboat!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, Sunday last, my pals at Newtown Creek Alliance and NYC Audubon set up an event which would see a group of three dozen Brooklyn bat enthusiasts climb into canoes at dusk and ply the lugubrious waters of the Newtown Creek in search of urban bats. How, I ask, could a humble narrator not want to come along?

Bat Boat!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was in one the two gigantic canoes maintained by the North Brooklyn Boat Club for such endeavors, and since I make great ballast, was sitting up front in the bow of the thing. All told, we had seven canoes out on the water.

Bat Boat!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Audubon people were all geared up with electronic bat detectors (ultrasonic microphone doohickeys) and other frammistats. Bat experts were on hand to answer questions, and copies of “Bat International” magazines offered.

Bat Boat!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, I know what you’re thinking here, but at the 520 Kingsland Avenue Green Roof nearby the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, they’ve got bat detecting equipment installed and have – in fact – detected bats.

Bat Boat!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator was onboard mainly for the opportunity to shoot some shots from the water at night. Our original plan was to head into Dutch Kills and bat hunt there, but an unusually high tide precluded that option so we headed down the main channel for a couple of miles. No need to go to the gym on Monday for the bat crowd, as rowing is great cardio.

Bat Boat!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the end we didn’t see or ultrasonically detect any bats, for which the bat experts offered several reasons. It’s my belief that, just like everybody else in NYC during the last week of August, the bats were probably on vacation and taking advantage of the coming Labor Day weekend to extend their time off.

Bat Boat!


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 29, 2018 at 11:00 am

splintered state

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How many bees would you get if you bought a pound of bees?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One had planned on offering you a batty story today, but alas, the photos are still in the oven and are being cooked. It will be a satisfying repast, I believe, but that particular dinner isn’t ready yet. Accordingly, here’s a few odd and end shots collected over the last couple of weeks that utilize the daytime long exposure techniques recently described.

Once it cools down again, and we’re in the post Labor Day period when the beaches are fairly empty, I plan on doing some shooting with this technique in areas with truly energetic water. For now, the East River and my beloved Newtown Creek will just have to do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I’m looking for are shorelines with some serious waves blasting against the shoreline. I’m thinking the southern coastlines of Brooklyn are perfect, as is the eastern coastline of Long Island out in Montauk, for this sort of endeavor. These shots use the ten stop ND filter recently acquired, and represent about thirty seconds each of movement for both water and wind blown vegetation.

The first shot is one of the dolphins surrounding the Roosevelt Island Bridge, the second is Hallets Cove in Astoria, and the one below is from Newtown Creek in Maspeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Half of the Newtown Creek’s environmental issues result from a lack of laminar “flow” which allows for the buildup of a bed of sediments referred to as “black mayonnaise.” At low tide, and using the long exposure technique, you can eliminate the specular highlights of the surrounding environment encountered on the surface of the water and peer into the shallows. I’ve always wanted to chuck a chunk of magnesium into the Creek to light up the water column (magnesium burns in water and emits a blinding white light) but I’d probably end up blowing up Maspeth or burning down Greenpoint.


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 28, 2018 at 11:30 am

sequestered factoids

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I miss the tick tock of analogue clocks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m a bit behind schedule today, as I had to got to Greenpoint to do a lecture for a group of school teachers about my beloved Creek, and that’s why a single image greets you. Back tomorrow with a story that’s just plain bats.


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 27, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Long Island City, newtown creek

Tagged with ,

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