The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

locked attic

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A few odds and ends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A late model and quite adorable pickup spotted at Willets Point is pictured above. One continues to suffer from a lack of fresh content for this – your Newtown Pentacle – due to the abundance of atmospheric precipitation and a rather full schedule of other tasks. I’ve got a pile of shots on the computer which have been gathered in my comings and goings around Queens which I hope to have the developing process finished on shortly.

A few of you have asked about the enigmatic “developing process” statement in the past, so here’s a brief description…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I have my camera set to generate “RAW” format images rather than jpegs. When the camera card is offloaded (I generally download shots off of the thing as soon as I return to HQ from an adventure or whatever, same day as capture) onto my desktop, they are first converted over from Canon’s .cr2 format over to Adobe DNG. The DNG files, which are easier (and quite malleable) to edit, are then loaded into Adobe’s Bridge. Bridge is where I hit them with certain presets – I have one or two for normal daylight shots, a couple of different setups for high iso night or subway shots, and so on. This is hardly an automatic process, rather the settings assign correct color temperatures, sharpness and saturation settings, and a few other technical corrections are introduced into the images. This isn’t the final step by any measure, rather it creates a starting point for the next step. Setting up these settings, or loops, has been a trial and error evolutionary process which I’m always tweaking.

Next up is a review of the entire catalogue of shots, during which I’m ensuring that focus is where I wanted it to be, and I’m looking for images that carry a general esthetic sense. Ideally, at least half to two thirds of what landed in the folder are tossed, leaving behind a set of shots I can hang my hat on. Those shots are then cropped, keyworded, and have their horizon lines straightened or “dutched” depending on what I’m going for with the image.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The final step, and I leave it for last as the prior phases can often be boring and technical exercises during which my head feels like it might slide off the back of my neck during, is the development one. That’s where I noodle brightness, contrast, and so on to find some accommodation between what my perception of the scene was while shooting it and the technical shortcomings of the captured image. Once I’m happy with what I’ve got, and at this point it’s something like 15 or 20% of what originally came off the camera, I make my selects that I want to present. Maybe 10% of the original number of photos captured in the field make it through to that final cut. Sometimes, you need to “get it in one,” especially when it’s an assignment, but personal work involves a different thought process.

I’ve got a couple of “secret sauce” tricks that I picked up over the years working as a Madison Avenue retoucher, but one thing I never do with the shots you see here is “photoshop” them and alter the capture by removing or adding elements. It’s just color and brightness, contrast and so on that I hit them with. I aspire to maintain some measure of journalistic integrity in these images.

Everything gets rendered out as jpegs for web delivery at Flickr, ultimately.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 2, 2019 at 1:30 pm

2 Responses

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  1. The “late model and quite adorable pickup” is in fact and early 1960s half-cab IH (International Harvester) Scout. They’re quite desired among the classic 4×4 set! 🙂

    Marc Beebe

    May 2, 2019 at 6:13 pm

  2. Even for a photographic dunce like yours truly, that description of your standard routine for processing the hordes of images you capture is fascinating, Mitch — thanks!

    Kenneth Furie

    May 2, 2019 at 11:40 pm

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