The Newtown Pentacle

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doglike things

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a terrifying visit to a cautionary tale known as Hudson Yards, a quick ride on the 7 train carried me back to the gently rolling hills of Western Queens where a transfer at the Queensboro Plaza subway stop was actuated and I was soon on an N train heading towards almond eyed Astoria. This was from the end of my journeys on Sunday – August 21st – which were meant to include riding on a Fireboat, but which ended up in a staggered scuttle about the abominable Hudson Yards.

One was hoping to wander through a street festival or something lively in the way home through Astoria – a Detestation of some Abyssal Power, or a Celebration of a Lord or Lady of Light – but it was just another Sunday in the ancient village.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Notice was taken of this woman feeding a group of birds. The birds seemed to be arranging themselves into a geometric pattern, but logic dictates that it was just the pattern of the woman’s arcing throws of seed or bread that they were following. Still, one wonders, and more than wonders…

Once I caught a photo of a group of birds sitting upon a series of Astoria power lines, in a pattern which reminded me of musical notation. I sent it to a musician friend of mine for analysis. He refused to discuss the matter after viewing the image, instructing that I should never mention it again and advising that I destroy the image.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 24th of August, a day trip to visit a friend in the pretty town of Hudson, New York was undertaken. It was a long drive and my photographic curiosities were stifled due to social obligation.

There used to be a whaling fleet who’s home base was here in Hudson. The financial benefits of this industrial activity explains how they could afford the expenses of building out the grandiose architecture from the 1840’s – 1880’s era which is still extant in the town, as said fleet often did business with Ambrose Kingsland in Greenpoint. The Newtown Creek tributary “Whale Creek” is so named because of Kingsland’s whale oil refinery, and the corollary industries of rope manufacture, blacksmithing, shipwrighting, and miscellaneous ship supply hugged the shores of Whale Creek in Greenpoint.

Staten Island artist John Noble actually painted Whale Creek during this era – here’s a link to the Noble Museum at Snug Harbor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hudson is a very attractive town, and I wish that I had more time to explore. I also really wanted to get a shot of the old docks where the Newtown Creek bound whaling ships would launch from, but as mentioned above – this was a social visit and not a photo mission.

The shot above is from a park along the Hudson River that obviously used to be part of a barge to rail setup.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday the 27th of August, and this shot was from something like 8 in the morning, captured while sitting in the passenger seat of a late model Mercedes on the George Washington Bridge.

The Mercedes belongs to my pal Max, and we were on the road heading west for a week long “away game.” I left the pinstripes at home, put on my gray uniform, and configured the camera to a very odd group of settings.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ISO was set into the range I normally use for night time low light conditions, the aperture was set to either f8 or f11 depending on time of day and ambient light, and the shutter to 1/8000th of a second.

When you’re traveling in a late model Mercedes at about 70 miles per hour, westwards through Pennsylvania, you need to take steps to freeze the action for the camera.

More next week.


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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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 23, 2022 at 11:00 am

judging from

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The weather forecast on August 1st wasn’t promising anything pleasant for the days immediately following it, and there was a lot of fog and mist in the air…

How can a humble narrator be expected to ignore atmospheric diffusion? Pfah. One shlepped over to the N train, and away I went.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Queens Plaza, I transferred my allegiances from the N to the 7, and took that line two stops to Hunters Point Avenue.

I had a plan in mind for the foggy afternoon, one which would find me over in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

DUPBO – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp – was part of my plan. In the late afternoons during weekdays, the Long Island Railroad people deploy a train set about every half hour from the Hunters Point Yard. The trains move under the Pulaski Bridge, cross Borden Avenue, and then go off to parts that are unknown but fairly guessable.

My plan involved crossing the Pulaski Bridge on foot, of course, but I wouldn’t be “me” if I didn’t crack out a few shots of a passing locomotive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Y’know, I know – intellectually – that they’re going to blow the train horn when they approach a grade crossing. Doesn’t change the fact that I’m startled by the sound each and every time they do it.

It’s what’s known as an autonomic reaction to environmental stimuli.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After getting my LIRR shots, and then inspecting the waterside area under the bridge, I headed over to the steep and well traveled stairs of the Pulaski Bridge.

I guess that about 20 minutes had elapsed while I was wandering around down there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as I got to the top of the stairs, a second train was released into the wild by the LIRR an I was lucky enough to get another shot.

Pedantic? Maybe? Fun? Yes.


“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.

thronged through

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

July 9th saw me briefly escaping the hell of zoom meetings and other obligations which had consumed a couple of my days after the the whole rented car adventure described earlier this week.

I took a “stretch my legs” walk around the neighborhood. As always, Sunnyside Yards never disappoints.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of my path carried me through the devastated industrial zone found along Northern Blvd. and 35th and 36th avenues.

What devastated it, you ask? Innovation Queens did. The proposed “Big Real Estate” mega project’s owners have been buying up the properties here and not renewing the leases of the businesses housed therein for about ten years. This allows them to claim that it’s a blighted area, without mentioning that they’re the ones who created the blight.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Headed up by a three headed serpent, Innovation Queens would demolish a triangular section at the southern edge of Astoria which currently provides employment to hundreds, who work at jobs that pay taxes. The replacement is a series of 20 plus story luxury apartment towers, hosting about 3,000 units, which would be tax free to their owners for about 20 years due to having the bare minimum of “affordable” units within them.

The three headed serpent is: Larry Silverstein – self described best friend of Donald Trump and Governor of the Real Estate Board of New York, Bedrock Properties – an entity, whom one of the principals of recently bragged to me, wrote the affordable housing laws in the State of Connecticut (in other news, a fox recently wrote the Connecticut rules governing hen houses), and the Kaufman Astoria Group – who used to be in the movie and TV production business. Grrr.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They’ve been allowing the properties they’ve acquired to decline, putting out tenants, and looking the other way at illegal dumping in the area. They also have neglected to clean their streets, remove graffiti, or do any of the other things property owners normally do.

The Three Headed Serpent claims that the area is “dark, dangerous, and forbidding.” This section didn’t used to be any of those things, before the three headed serpent slithered into the neighborhood.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were the last ones captured before I fell into the grip of a three day long adventure involving gastro intestinal distress, and a concurrent pinched nerve in my neck which that was the result of too much bad sleep. What made it bad was the GI issues. I had one of those weird 72 hours when you’re sleeping a lot, but never more than two hours at a time.

As always is the case with such matters, you just need to wait it out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, by mid week, I was back in fine fettle and moving around the world again. Cannot tell you how many people’s days I’ve ruined since with my presence.

Back tomorrow, with something that matters and proof that somebody cares.


“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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 11, 2022 at 11:00 am

wrinkles formed

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s an annual fireworks display in Astoria Park, usually right at the end of June. It’s staged for the 4th of July, of course, and there’s a band performance that precedes it. It’s a big draw for the neighborhood.

In 2022, it was presented on June 29th.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, there’s a pretty simple camera recipe for fireworks shots – f8/ISO 200/4-8 seconds shutter speed. You pick something distant to focus on, do a test shot to confirm focus and turn off the autofocus entirely, then set the camera run on auto for the duration. My camera has a built in intervalometer, which allows me to set it to just keep on shooting once I click the shutter button. I had the camera set to create an exposure, wait a second, and then pop out another, and another, and another.

The actual trick to fireworks photography relates to the same issue encountered during “landscape.” What’s in the foreground and how do you embed a sense of “place” in the image?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For these shots, what I was interested in getting were the two bridges – Triborough and Hell Gate – along with the fireworks. The last time I shot the fireworks show here, which was at least ten years ago, I made it a point of being right up along the waterfront so I could include the East River in the shots. Given the mobbed and crowded condition down at that location, I wanted to stay away from that sort of lockup.

I moved around a bit this time as well, which I would have precluded from doing down in the thick of things in the crowd on Shore Blvd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were 10,000 people – at least – watching the show. It’s a big deal for Astoria, this fireworks show, and especially so after the last few years. People bring their kids, pets, and folding chairs along with coolers of beverages.

In the shot above, I was playing around with a few camera tricks. I used the focus stacking technique to combine multiple fireworks shells into a single shot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The show ended, and I sat down for a half hour at the skateboard park section of the larger Astoria Park, under Triborough Bridge. The crowds dispersed slowly, and I didn’t see any advantage at all in being part of an enormous human herd as it headed back towards 21st and 31st streets along Hoyt Avenue.

Fun night, with a cool neighborhood vibe.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One scuttled his lonely path down Broadway back towards HQ and an inevitable late night in front of the computer spent developing these shots. Digital development occurs entirely within photoshop for me. I don’t lean heavily into my shots. I adjust horizons, do a bit of cropping, and correct the color temperature of the capture. I never, ever edit out anything in the shot as it would negate the journalistic integrity of the image. What I saw is what you see.

Something different tomorrow.


“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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 3, 2022 at 11:00 am

keenly resented

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, and several times in fact, the way I pass the long hours of an Amtrak trip is by taking random snapshots of America. That sounds pretentious, but… that’s what they are. A homemade foam collar is affixed to my lens, then I set the camera up at a very high ISO setting and a wide open aperture. I then set the shutter speed to an insanely small sliver of time – 1/2000th or faster. It’s a challenging situation – Amtrak’s windows generally ain’t too clean or free of scratches, and the window glass itself has a reddish brown coloration to it. Saying all that – 8 hour train trip, yo – gotta do something to pass the time.

The video above represents what I saw between Harrisburg and somewhere in the middle of New Jersey. The sun was illuminating my window from about 4 o’clock on, and there’s really no way to combat the fact that your lens is pointed directly at the sun through a dirty and scratched brown window. Anyway… made it back to “home sweet hell.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I stepped off the train into a “NYC swamp ass hot day.” There was also a parade letting out, which was probably “Pride” given all the rainbow gear the paraders were parading around with. I walked a block to the E, returned to Queens at Queens Plaza, and caught a R back to the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria.

So – That’s that story. This was June 26th, incidentally.

Six image posts are going to continue for a bit, as the particularly prolific photographic spree I’ve been experiencing continues. This post is being written in the second week of July, which is also good news as I’m way ahead of schedule.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I hung around HQ and the neighborhood for a few days after returning from Pittsburgh. June the 29th, however, was a day that the world put out “Mitch Bait.” Given that this is my last summer in NYC, I’m trying to do everything that’s possible for me to do. Visiting people, seeing things, wondering where that smell on the air is coming from. There’s a sentimental resonance in every step I take.

I don’t know if I’m going to miss this dystopian shithole or not, as it’s all I’ve ever known. See that photo right above? That looks normal to me. Everything about it is messed up, starting with the Cops leaving their car parked in a bus stop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whatever…

One of the things that I haven’t done in a whole lot of years is attend the fireworks display at Astoria Park. It’s a short cross Astoria walk to get there for me, right up 31st street and over to Hoyt Avenue and then scuttle to the water. 31st Street, with its elevated subway tracks, seldom disappoints. There’s always something to take a shot of.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had been thinking about where I wanted to set up the camera on a tripod. I knew with certainty that the East River waterfront along Shore Blvd. would be mobbed, and I also wanted to get a shot with both bridges in it – the Hells Gate Bridge and the Triborough Bridge. I wanted a bit of water in the shot, but not too much. I’d have to contend with crowds, passerby who wanted to talk about cameras (this happens all the time), and any number of unknown things. When I got to the spot I had visualized, later on, there was a guy setting up a theatrical flying rope rig up in a tree which he was swinging around on, and doing gymnastics. You never know.

Photographing fireworks is fairly simple. You put your camera on a stable thing like a tripod. You set it to ISO 200, F8, and 4-8 seconds depending on ambient conditions. There’s variations on this, but that’s the basic exposure triangle. I usually record fireworks with the camera set for 3400K color temperature.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were captured on the way to Astoria Park.

Along the way, I encountered this Manitou (a French manufacturer of a range of heavy equipment) vehicle parked on the street. It caught my eye, this thing. Given my interest in the belief systems of various parties, the first thing I thought when I read the logo was related to the religious views of the Algonquian peoples. Odd choice, thereby, in corporate branding if you ask me.

You could probably take out a lot of zombies with that thing, I bet…

Tomorrow- fireworks!


“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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 2, 2022 at 11:00 am

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