The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Piney Fork

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just under 17 miles in length, Peters Creek is a tributary of the Monongahela River, and runs from Nottingham Township in Washington County on a generally northern path towards its intersection with its parent river nearby Clairton, Pennsylvania.

As soon as I saw running water entering the Piney Fork Tunnel (colloquially known as the Corvette Tunnel), I knew that a few shots would need to be gathered along its shoreline.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been playing around with the camera settings to get the flowing water thing right. Back in NYC, it was fairly simple to deal with the water, photographically speaking. Approaching this sort of fast flowing but quite shallow waterway, which is quite common in the hills and valleys of Pittsburgh, has acquired a bit of trial and error.

Yeah, I could shoot it with a fast shutter and get every ripple and splashlet, but that’s distracting. I want longer shutter shots which show the flow but which don’t obliterate the texture or detail of the water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The approach in NYC’s water was to use a very long shutter speed – 15-30 seconds with an ND filter – to create a mirror glass pool of reflections. That approach in this circumstance would make the water look like mist, and I’ve been working on preserving some of the texture of the flowing water, in addition to slowing it down a bit, to cancel out distracting hot spots or blown out highlights.

I’m getting close to what I’m trying to do in these shots, I’d wager.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As always seems to be the case, as soon as I set up the tripod and got myself ready to shoot, a small army of people appeared. This time around, it was a group of guys whom I’d describe as being “redneck adjacent” that drove up in pickups and then started fishing. We all had a brief chat. One of them was stationed in Breezy Point for his military service, and we talked about Brooklyn, Queens, and Pizza.

It seems that a nearby ‘sportsmen club’ pays to stock the creek with trout on a nearby private property, and whereas this particular spot is legally “public,” its waters adjoin their private section of the stream. The fishermen got busy, and so did I. Nice guys, but after about 20 minutes somebody from the Sportsman Club showed up and began raising a ruckus with them about the trout fishing. Impassioned debate followed, at which point the fishermen packed their gear into the pickups and drove away.

Also, I’m told that in these parts it’s just “truck,” not Pickup Truck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This one is a fairly long exposure, and you can see the ghostly afterimages of a couple of those guys still fishing around the bend. I found the shape of the tunnel, and its interaction with the water, interesting.

A second group of fishermen arrived, and soon I was chatting with one of them as he cast his line when he asked me what I was getting up to. Not wanting to get into a whole conversation, I said that I was getting “artsy fartsy” with my camera settings. The fisherman asked me to repeat that three times, as he pretended to have never heard the phrase “artsy fartsy” before. As is my practice, when I described what I meant by the phrase, his eyes glazed over from boredom, and I soon bid him adieu.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Got this last one on my way back to the Mobile Oppression Platform’s tender embrace. For the unfamiliar, the MOP is my pet name for the Toyota.

It was about a half hour drive back to HQ from this spot, most of which occurred along winding roads which I hadn’t experienced previously. Several other locations seemed kind of promising for future explorations, and I plan on returning to the vicinity of the Piney Fork and Green Man’s Tunnels again in the future. This spot must look wild in the autumn after the leaves turn.

“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

April 11, 2023 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. Amazing photos and interesting read! Have you encountered any challenges in exploring and taking pictures of other waterways in the Pittsburgh area? [Logical Question that engages the author into responding.]
    Philly Local Support

    David Brock

    April 11, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    • Lol, so far so good. The only delimiter so far has involved parking. There’s spots I’m very interested in getting to nearby the Irvin and Clairton mills, but haven’t found a spot to leave the car which doesn’t involve trespass at a Dairy Queen or something. I realize this isn’t the issue here (the Yinzers park on curbs, patches of dirt, etc.) that it is where I’m from (nyc) but I like to do things all nice and legal like- at least until I learn what the cultural expectations are.

      Mitch Waxman

      April 11, 2023 at 5:34 pm

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