The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

stamped out

with 2 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

That recent long walk I mentioned found me over in industrial Maspeth, experimenting with various camera settings, as regarding capturing photos of the Kosciuszcko Bridge and its weird illumination. LED lights, architecturally speaking, are insanely bright. They also produce unnatural colors which wreak havoc on the color theory algorithms in digital cameras. Since the Governor literally flipped a switch turning on the bridge’s lighting system a couple of years ago, I’ve been fairly bedeviled by its idiosyncrasies.

A big part of the problem is that the bridge’s lights rotate through a chroma key, turning yellow, green, blue, red, violet… when all those colors add up on your camera sensor it equals bright white – as you see in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not wanting to sacrifice the sharpness of the captured image at my lens’s hyper-focal “infinity” setting, one has been playing around with length of shutter speed and sensor ISO sensitivity all winter and into the spring. The shot above, depicting both the Kosciuszcko and the Empire State Building flashing red and showing Newtown Creek as well, represents a set of trade offs which I’m kind of happy with.

When you’ve got a bunch of time on your hands, and all of your summer gigs have been cancelled due to a pandemic, you might as well figure out new ways to configure and work with the camera – right?

That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, with the notable exception of polio. Polio makes a mess out of you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A different set of experiments are at work in the shot above, which is actually three separate images combined into one in a Photoshop process called “focus stacking.” You set up a stable camera base – a tripod or whatever – and then move the shot’s focus point around. One focus point is on the distant Kosciuszcko Bridge, another on the mid ground tomb stones, and the third is on the trunk of that tree. These are narrow aperture shots, so all these elements would have been sharply rendered anyway, but the stacking technique is a skill I’ve been meaning to understand and use for a while, and since I essentially have no there reason to wake up I might as well hone some of my lesser used skills. Also, the “stacking” assures a uniform level of sharpness throughout the image.

Back Monday, or whatever, with something else. I don’t know what exactly, I’m just hoping to still be alive by then.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, April 27th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.

“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.

2 Responses

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  1. I especially enjoy that third capture. Great atmosphere.


    May 6, 2020 at 11:01 am

  2. I especially enjoy that third capture. Great atmosphere.

    Tommy Efreeti

    May 6, 2020 at 11:01 am

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