The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

indelible mark

with one comment

Some new gear on display in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is always hunting around on camera oriented websites for new bits of gear, lenses, gew gaws, doohickeys, and or doodads which might make my life a bit more interesting as I wander around the City of Greater New York with a camera. There’s a couple of Chinese camera sites that I keep an eye on, which are really hit and miss on the “get what you pay for” front, but recently I decided to take a chance on a manual focus lens which promised a built in series of polarizing filters that would produce an extraordinary result. This is a 65mm prime, with a decidedly small aperture (f4-11) range, but it’s optical formula and clever mechanical plan is designed to allow the user to see both above and below the surface of water bodies at the same time. It’s offered by a company I never heard of before – the Mumma Cei, Xi, & Akkuseh (MCXA) group and is manufactured by something called the Szeihaloud Cooperative. Google translate tells me that Szeihaloud means “great maker” or something, and that their glass factory is located in the dry regions of northwest China. That’s odd, normally electronics gear comes from the coastal cities of the south, but nothing ventured nothing gained. MCXA’s site claims that there’s something special in the mineralogy of the sands of the region they’re located in which lends unique qualities to their ground glass products. At least that’s what I think they’re saying… Chinese website version of English, if y’know what I’m saying…

What the heck, it was only a hundred bucks. I’m glad that I ordered the thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First – MCXA’s 65mm lens, which they call the X-51, is an ergonomic nightmare. It’s got all these jangly little knobs on it for independently manipulating the eight linear polarizer filters housed within the barrel. Said barrel is plastic, and when I unwrapped my little care package from the Silk Road region the interior of the box actually had some kind of orange powdery substance which smelled vaguely of cinnamon mixed with saffron inside of it, a scent that made me a bit woozy. The lens was packed in a sealed plastic bag so that wasn’t too much of an issue. The glass itself was nice and sharp, which was surprising, once I got it past f 5.6. It’s pretty heavy, and manual focus is a chore, especially with those eight knobs arrayed around the focus ring.

The startling part was that the thing actually worked as promised, allowing me to photograph both the surface details of the waters of the East River (pictured above) and provided visual egress to that which lurks below while I was riding on a NYC Ferry last week. I look forward to putting the thing on a tripod and seeing what can be revealed at Newtown Creek.

Of course, the lens and camera were set for a daylight exposure formula, so sub surface features were darkened.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

MCXA has another bizarre lens I’m now interested in, which promises Flouroscope like qualities, allowing you to peer “under the surface” and revealing the internal structures of both animals and plants. They call it the “God Emperor of lenses,” or at least that’s what Google Translate says the series of Chinese characters on its offer page means. I tell you, the Chinese century looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. As is my habit, new glass and other camera gear is typically acquired during the tax filing season of the early spring.

I usually like to add a new lens to my kit every April, and especially so on April the 1st.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Advertisements

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 1, 2019 at 1:00 pm

awkward signatures

with 4 comments

On the sand at Flushing Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After having successfully navigated my way to the water’s edge at Flushing Creek through an open gate, a humble narrator (and my pal Val, who was game for this particular caper) proceeded off the concrete and down onto the sand. As mentioned previously, I’m intentionally staying dumb about the Flushing Creek waterway – for now – as it’s entirely novel to me to “know” nothing about something and I want to preserve that as long as possible. It’s philosophic with me, ignorance, and it’s difficult to preserve. Every year, I play my “Super Bowl Challenge,” which is prophylactic in terms of information regarding the big game. I don’t want to know when, where, who… anything. It’s more difficult to know nothing than everything about something these days.

A challenge I’m several years into, as a note, is the Lady Gaga challenge. I know nothing about Lady Gaga other than her name. Never looked at a photo, listened to a song, wouldn’t recognize her if she was sitting next to me. No animosity against the house of Gaga is offered, of course, it’s just extremely challenging to remain completely ignorant of somebody is who apparently a huge pop star – and it’s a challenge I accept. I guess I know she’s a pop star.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By my standards, which are set to a high bar by that legendary exemplar of urban neglect which is the Newtown Creek, things didn’t look too bad around here. There were all sorts of garbage, dumping, broken pipes like the one above encountered… but… I mean… Maspeth Creek… y’know?

Part of the reason I wanted to come here during the brown and brittle months of the winter, incidentally, involved the lessened chances of encountering biting insects and ticks in particular. Got to imagine that there are clouds of mosquitos and black flies around this spot during the summer months.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was some sort of ruggose canvas placed on the shoreline, no doubt an attempt at fighting erosion of the sandy beach. The good news is that said canvas created a hard pack surface which was easy to walk on. We were visiting Flushing Creek at the low tide interval of the daily cycle, so lots and lots of shoreline was revealed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Modern day Flushing, with its massive “Hong Kong” style real estate developments, provided a backdrop for the scene. Like LIC, this “other” end of the 7 line in Queens has been growing exponentially in recent years. Manhattan’s Chinatown has been relegated to history’s dustbin, a relic of a forgotten age in NYC. Flushing is where it’s at these days, as far as where Chinese people live and work, and the place is being remodeled according to their tastes and preferences.

The “American Way” at work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We proceeded back along Flushing Creek for a bit, and the further that we went in the direction of Roosevelt Avenue, the more marshy the ground became. Brush and grasses became thicker, and salt water streams punctuated the foliage with increasing frequency. The sound of traffic on the nearby highways and area streets were the only non naturally generated sounds, other than the occasional passage of a 7 Line train set on the overhead trackage which carries the subway to and from Flushing’s Main Street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were oodles and oodles of birds flapping around, and I’m sure that at night this part of Flushing Creek would be crawling with Raccons and Rats and all sorts of nocturnal critters doing their thing.

More tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm

utterly bewildered

leave a comment »

Getting minimalist at Flushing Bay.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I found myself out in Flushing again last week, making good on my threat to return there during the daylight hours. Last time that I was in this neighborhood, it was at night, which really isn’t the best time to scout a location properly. This time around, it was a mid day winter’s afternoon.

Ultimately, where I wanted to get to was Flushing Creek, but more on that in subsequent posts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Have to admit, it was a little odd just waving the camera around without having to do the whole “set up” needed for the night shot process. Funny how something so normative to me can suddenly become alien, sort of like eating the first real meal after an interval with a stomach virus can seem bizarre.

Light, abundant light that I need to cut down and control? Weird.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a car tire submerged in the surf which has been turned into a colony nest for shellfish, which is something I found neat. Saw several examples of this sort of thing all around the bay and later on Flushing Creek itself. Just goes to show that the mechanisms of nature, given enough time, can adapt to anything.

Back tomorrow with more, and we’ll be exploring part of Flushing Creek for the next few days at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 18, 2019 at 12:00 pm

traumatic incursions

with one comment

It’s all so depressing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has given up hoping for a “win” and have instead begun to embrace the concept of mitigating the width and depth of loss. Going to sleep with the same number of fingers and toes that I woke up with is pretty much my daily goal at the moment. A humble narrator has reached that chronological age when body parts just fall off randomly, so I’ve begun carrying a tube of Krazy Glue around with me if I need to perform an ad hoc repair “in the field,” as it were.

My mood will certainly improve once my landlord gets the heat fixed, since right now HQ is the temperature of a meat locker. I told the superintendent last week that there was no heat on that suddenly cold day, and he informed that it “would come on automatically.” It didn’t, doesn’t, and hasn’t, and I think I can see a pinky toe lying under the couch.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you speak one of those South African Bushman languages, the sort comprised of clicking sounds, you shouldn’t expect anyone to understand you. It’s like that with obscure tongues. One constantly reminds my colleagues along Newtown Creek that when we say “PRP” or “PCB” or “RI” or “CSO” to people new to the environmentalist world that they have no idea what we’re talking about and it sounds a lot like those aforementioned clicking sound languages. If you’re discussing something that’s novel, or known only to cloistered experts, you need to be explicit and clear while explaining things and avoid introducing cultic acronyms. You also need to educate people about what you’re doing, before you do it.

The new bike lanes on Skillman Avenue are full of clicking sounds for pedestrians, bikers, and vehicle operators. What the hell do all of these new striped in chevrons and curvy symbols mean? What are you meant to be doing here? “Buffer zone” means that you do what, where, and when?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Fully realizing that I have a better chance of getting killed by a dead bird falling out of the sky and hitting me on the head than actually winning, I went out last night and bought a Mega Millions Lottery ticket. There’s an absolutely ludicrous amount of money on the table in this particular drawing, which I would use in pursuance of raining vengeance down upon all that have offended me in the manner of an Old Testament God. If you see me on the news tomorrow with a big evil smile and you know that I’ve taken issue with you in the past, it would be a great idea for you to start planning a long trip or just move to the West Coast as I’m going to be going all Michael Corleone, and real quick like.

The way I see it, if life hands you lemons, the best thing to do is squirt lemon juice into the eyes of those who have opposed or thwarted your will. I’d also buy a few space heaters, since my apartment is freaking freezing.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 19, 2018 at 1:15 pm

time at

leave a comment »

A splash of color for a gray world.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is not having a good week, and as it’s only Tuesday, portent does not offer much in the way of hope. The weather isn’t helping, either. This gray, misty, and unseasonably warm climate is depressing. Accordingly, since I haven’t been doing too much in the way of shooting for the last week or two, the archives have been accessed in pursuit of color and polychrome light. Consider this a public service from your Newtown Pentacle.

Or don’t, I’m too numb to care.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This whole climate change business seems fairly obvious now, don’t it? The butterfly in the shot above is the one responsible, and I was there when it flapped its wings.

I should be living inside a hoodie sweatshirt by this time of the year, damnit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It feels like we didn’t get a “spring” in 2018, and that the summer was composed merely of the uncomfortably humid and hot days and punctuated by rain. Bah!


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 9, 2018 at 1:00 pm

popularly linked

with 2 comments

Texting while driving?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking a break this week, and single images will be greeting you sans the verbose drivel they’re normally accompanied by. It’s a rather busy week that I have ahead of me, but look for a strange old man wandering about the concrete devastations of the Newtown Creek with a camera. That’ll likely be me.


Tours and Events


Dutch Kills Dérive. Free!
Saturday, September 8, 2018, 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM with Flux Factory

Drowning in our own muck and mire, modern society must transmute its existence into that of an allegorical baptism in order to emerge a society of water protectors. The historic facts of exactly how our civilization has transformed the historic Dutch Kill waterway into a sewershed will act as both a numbing analgesic and a point of illumination. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 7, 2018 at 11:00 am

academic alienists

leave a comment »

Something fishy going on?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking a break this week, and single images will be greeting you sans the verbose drivel they’re normally accompanied by. It’s a rather busy week that I have ahead of me, but look for a strange old man wandering about the concrete devastations of the Newtown Creek with a camera. That’ll likely be me.


Tours and Events


Dutch Kills Dérive. Free!
Saturday, September 8, 2018, 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM with Flux Factory

Drowning in our own muck and mire, modern society must transmute its existence into that of an allegorical baptism in order to emerge a society of water protectors. The historic facts of exactly how our civilization has transformed the historic Dutch Kill waterway into a sewershed will act as both a numbing analgesic and a point of illumination. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: