The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

chill wind

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is an often photographed and displayed Bodega here in Astoria, found across the street from my house, and the image is simply a “wide open” f1.8 test of a new lens I found myself having to purchase last week. My old “nifty fifty” is so full of dust, and has grown rather “cranky” after more than a decade of use that I needed to replace it. It seems that Canon has redesigned the thing since the iteration I’ve been carrying was issued, and I can report that they have improved it in several ways. Luckily, this is another one of the “cheap” lenses, so it didn’t eat up too much of that stimulus check I received. A Christmas present I received from a friend last year was a Yongnuo knockoff version of the original Canon lens formula, but it suffers from a series of defects in terms of chromatic aberration and missed autofocus which I cannot describe as being “charming” or “uniquely characteristic.”

One of the challenges I’ve set for myself is to see how many photos I can acquire without leaving the house, here in CoronAstoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bird on a wire? I’m told that what you’re looking at is a Morning Dove, which is a cousin to the more common Pigeon. What I can tell you, given my legendarily bad skills in describing the Ornithological sphere, is that when this particularly skittish bird gets excited and flies around it makes a sort of squeaking sound. I’ve been trying to catch a shot of a hawk which has been patrolling the neighborhood in recent weeks, but haven’t been able to make that happen. I really don’t know where the wildlife photographers of the world find their patience. A humble narrator gets bored easily.

I sing rhyming nonsense songs to Zuzu the dog all the time, and am almost ready to unveil a Broadway show worth of tunes with lyrics like “yellow sigma three, that’s what dogs say, dee dee dee dee.” I’ve also got a novella I’m working on with the dog which I call “Flippity Floppity Floop, it’s a lot of good to gloop.” You have to find ways to fill the time you’d normally be spending out there in the big old world.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My next door neighbor is a shut in, seems to own a couple of dozen cats, and has a plugged up drain on her roof. Additionally, the owner of the building next door to hers has been allowing his yard to go feral for several years – hence the dead tree slipped over her roofline. That’s the circumstance, but… you guessed it, more experimentation with esoteric camera technique is on display.

There are actually two shots combined into one up there. Both were shot with a wide open aperture of f1.8, and I used a technique which is common in macro photography to get it sharp throughout called “focus stacking” to combine them. The wide open aperture of f1.8 allows a low iso to be used, and also promulgates a quality of light capture which I find pleasing. Problem is that a wide aperture like f1.8 produces a narrow depth of field which is most easily explained as “if you focus on the eyes, the tip of the nose and the ears are blurry.” Stacking allows you too work around that.

Back tomorrow with something different, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

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, May 4th. 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 5, 2020 at 12:00 pm

One Response

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  1. Nice to see some daytime and living things 🙂 Hopefully a less gloomy time ahead for us all.


    May 5, 2020 at 12:39 pm

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