The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

lambent nimbuses

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since I’m all vaxxed up, riding the subways is something I can do again. I’ve been seriously pursuing an “iconic” shot of the IRT Flushing Line entering Queens Plaza with the sun setting behind it. The shot above isn’t it, rather it’s part of a series of similar shots which I’m going to keep on cracking away at until I get the magic one. One of the features which drew me into adopting the new camera – Canon EOS R6 – was a fairly revolutionary set of autofocus technologies baked into the thing. Saying that, during the pandemic months, I didn’t use “face and eye” or “subject tracking” at all since almost everything I was pointing the lens at was static.

Subject tracking, which is what I’m using while pursuing my “iconic” shot, allows me to tell the camera to focus on a certain thing and then the electronics onboard will follow that object through the frame while constantly adjusting focus as it moves. It also looks for human faces in frame and ensures they are in focus as well. There’s a lot of nuance to how this works, which has been fun to learn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve always considered the MTA Subway system to be an excellent workshop for photographers to figure their devices out. You’ve got all of these “worst case scenarios” going on. Shiny metallic objects moving at a decent clip through badly lit spaces, lots of harsh contrast, random behavioral offerings from the ridership.

Something I started doing a few years ago involves walking somewhere distant and then hopping on the train to get back home. That divides my photowalk time up and keeps things interesting. On the particular night these shots were gathered, I had scuttled over to LIC and visited Dutch Kills and then jumped onto the 7 at Hunters Point Avenue pursuing a connection to the Astoria line trains at Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Subsequently, last week I left the house and my answer to Our Lady of the Pentacle’s query as to where I was heading towards was “I’m feeling lazy so I’m just going to go ride the elevated subways for a bit and take some pics.”

The only issue I can report to y’all about the new autofocus system is that I am tending to overshoot while using it. I’ll burst out fifty shots of a train entering or leaving the station when all I need is one. That slows me down on the developing side of the operation, since I’ve got to pick just one.

Saying that, it’s bloody fantastic to be able to use the Transit System again. Now, if I only had some place to go…

“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 21, 2021 at 1:00 pm

One Response

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  1. What’s with the washed-out station platform at the left in the last photo? Can’t camera handle this?

    georgetheatheist . . . lux fiat.

    May 21, 2021 at 11:01 pm

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