The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

signficance of

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

August 3rd marked the beginning of a protracted heat wave here, in a City that never sleeps but certainly appreciates the value of a quick nap. Having seen the dire predictions of a week long spell of heat coupled with sky high levels of atmospheric humidity, one desired to get one walk in before things got truly life threatening. I also wanted “something to do” while waiting out the weather, and since I enjoy developing photos…

Saying all that, the dew point when I was shooting these photos was up in the high 60’s and it was truly a shvitzy night. The “urban heat island effect” coupled with high humidity levels – even at night – is an absolute killer and super difficult to do anything during. Accordingly, I opted for a short walk, one which carried me past “hole reliable” at Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I got fairly lucky. They’re doing all sorts of track maintenance further east of Sunnyside Yards, the Long Island Railroad people are. That means that the train dispatchers are grouping east and west bound traffic much closer together than normal, in order to maximize the length of the intervals between, when the track workers can do their thing.

Normally, it’s one train every twenty minutes or so. On August 3rd, there was a gaggle of traffic flowing through the Harold Interlocking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Difficult and technical, that’s how I describe my methodology for getting shots at “hole reliable” at night. The train is cooking along at a good clip, it’s dark, and where the scene is bright – it’s super bright.

F2, ISO 256,000 (!), and 1/125th of a second is the formula I used for these. As usual, you shoot for the edit, and I noodled these a bit during the developing process for contrast and managed to gain back about a stop of light by being careful with how the contrast ended up in the final render of the camera’s RAW file.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m quite happy with the way that the light from the train showed up in the gravel surrounding the tracks. I’m also pleased as punch that you can see the engineer driving the train behind the windshield.

The shot above was composed with the idea that “you need to do a few that leaves room for setting type into, for presentations and videos.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The heavy industrial ballet just kept on coming, and as LIRR 421 was leaving the frame, another train appeared and was making its way east.

Sometimes you get lucky, even when it’s a steamy August night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The rest of my walk was pretty uneventful. I scuttled up the hill to Queens Boulevard, hung a left, and then walked back to HQ in Astoria along 43rd street. These were the last shots I accomplished before the heatwave set in and the 85 degree temperatures at midnight began for a week. I hate “reverse blizzards,” so I hung around the air conditioner for several days.

Something different tomorrow – at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“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. Pretty exciting stuff! Interesting train info, too.


    September 1, 2022 at 8:27 pm

  2. […] a personal achievement. A particularly photogenic evening was encountered at Sunnyside Yards in “significance of,” a colorful sunset captured at Dutch Kills in “harrow up,” “ten beings” found me at an […]

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