The Newtown Pentacle

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arrested vagrant

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Thunderstorm Thursday is here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent humidity and heat have contributed to the usual summertime intervals of evening thunder storms which NYC is prone to manifest. Our Lady of the Pentacle kept on asking me if I was going out last weekend, as I had attested to, but it was really a bit too hot for one of my strolls. Also, I don’t mess around with lightning. Instead of braving the torrent of rain and sweating profusely, a humble narrator instead set up the tripod at HQ and got ready for sunset.

Sunset + thunderstorms = cool skies to take pictures of. Why go out when the show is coming to me?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, HQ offers me a few views of the sky, like this one looking southeast captured mere minutes before the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself occluded behind New Jersey. This is the tail end of a big “bubble” of clouds that dumped a prodigious amount of water down onto Astoria. It was quite refreshing, actually.

I was hoping for more lightning, but I like taking lightning pics.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A neat double rainbow set up, and based on where the northern side fo the refractory phenomena manifested, I’m betting there’s a pot of gold somewhere in the vicinity of 80th street and Ditmars Blvd. I’m heading over there now with a shovel and a pick axe.

Back tomorrow.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, June 29th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

July 2, 2020 at 1:00 pm

festering horror

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Archive week, pandemic period.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While the tribulation was really gearing up, my walks around Western Queens continued. As mentioned yesterday, one is feeling a bit reflective about the recent months, and the shots presented this week were recently gathered and some presented before. On the 18th of March, one wandered around the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek in Long Island City. The skies were starting to change a bit, and stars became visible to the naked eye. I began to notice troops of Raccoons walking around like they owned the street, and those dickweed Canada Geese reappeared.

The most notable thing, to me, was the quiet. With automotive traffic reduced by an enormous percentile, the “buzz” of NYC disappeared. It was not unpleasant, but you could hear Ambulance sirens screaming from miles away in all directions. Things had just gotten grim.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Returning from a shorter walk on March 22nd, a blazing inferno was encountered around the corner from my house. Whereas I originally thought I didn’t know anyone who lived there, it turns out a friend of a friend was made homeless by this fire. The office of Jimmy Van Bramer was made aware of the situation, who helped find some temporary shelter for them, I’m told.

This is about when I started receiving news about friends or family who had come down with Covid, and when people in the extended network of “people I talk to” began to relay horror stories. It’s also when I started seeing EMS personnel wearing surgical gowns, respirator masks, and face shields over their uniforms in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Late March was when I decided to just hang around HQ for a few days. The weather was crappy, and a decision to perfect certain photo techniques which I’d previously dabbled in was arrived at. Controlled environment practice is critical for pulling something off in the field, with its myriad distractions. Over the years, I’ve taken a LOT of pictures of that bodega, here in Astoria.

The one just above was captured on March 28th.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, June 22nd. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

June 23, 2020 at 11:00 am

head shakings

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Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned several times during the CoronAstoria period, one is trying to maintain an every other day schedule for constitutional photo walks. I leave HQ late, and well after dark when the rest of you are already snug in your bunkers. Let’s call the nights out “even” days, and the odd ones are when I’m in my personal bunker. Finding a way to whittle away the endless hours has been an occupation for me, one which I’ve been using to sharpen up some of my skills in the controlled environment of home base.

To wit, the shot above depicting a bodega directly across the street from HQ here in Astoria, is a composite of about 9 different images. All were shot “wide open” at f 1.8, using one of my “good lenses,” and “focus stacked.” What makes it different from other iterations of what must be a very familiar scene to long time readers, is that this time around I changed the exposure values of the individual images to try and get a rounder capture of the very bright and very dark aspects of the scene. It’s not an “HDR” shot, however. I did execute an HDR version of it for comparison, if you’re curious as to the difference. I prefer the one embedded above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the ways I’m spending my time involves voracious consumption of technique videos on YouTube’s various photography channels. Most of what you find on there is either aimed at beginners or novice photographers, but there’s actually a lot of interesting stuff to watch wherein you can pick up some tricks to up your game.

I’ve become a fan of British Landscape Photographer Thomas Heaton, for instance. Heaton is pals with a Pacific Northwest Landscape Photographer by the name of Nick Page, who also offers videos that are a bit more technical and also offers insights into digital darkroom methodology. I look forward to both arriving in my inbox. If you’re just starting out, or at an intermediate skill level behind the camera, Brenda Petrella’s Outdoor Photography School is a fantastic place to learn some new skills, and Brenda is pretty great behind the lens as well. Subscribe to any of their channels and YouTube’s algorithm will start recommending videos of similar ilk to you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I’m hurting a little bit right now for fresh images due to the nasty weather we’ve recently experienced. All that rain upended my odd and even schedule. If everything went to plan, I was out last night wandering around some industrial zone and will be developing the shots gathered as you are reading this post.

Exciting, isn’t it?

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, May 11th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

May 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

tool satchel

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Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

FDNY Battalion 49 was established in 1928, are known colloquially as the Hellgate Firefighters, and the unit is housed on the northern side of Astoria over on 35th street. The assigned units are Ladder 163 and Engine 312, and the latter is pictured above as it was screaming down Steinway Street toward Broadway the other night. A few blocks to the East, a couple of other fire units were hurtling out onto Broadway and executing a left hand turn, lights and sirens on, and all of this FDNY capability was heading in the direction of the Woodside Houses NYCHA campus. Not sure what was going on, but they were in an awful hurry to get somewhere.

Firemen, firemen.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has had an awful time trying to get out and about in the last week, what with all the rain and the sudden return to colder climes. Additionally, I’ve been struggling a bit with my mood, which has been generally sour. It has finally set in that the likelihood of conducting any of the walking or boat tours that I normally offer during the warm weather months, or collecting the significant percentile of my annual income which is derived from such activities, will be impossible while COVID 19 is still rampant. I’ve been holding off on producing virtual tours, but it looks like that’s going to be the only option as far as keeping Zuzu the dog well stocked with milk bones.

Additionally, I kind of miss riding the subway, which is something I never thought I’d say. Well, technically, I wrote that statement and didn’t say it out loud… but, you get my gist. Evolve or die, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing proof of my theory that the NYPD owns at least one vehicle of every type which has ever been manufactured was encountered recently nearby a training facility which the gendarmes have set up for their K-9 unit. On Northern Blvd. at Honeywell Street, you’ll notice tall green fences with concrete barriers set around them. The fences are adorned with admonitions warning passerby not to attempt entry to the gated lot as there are Police Dogs within. Occasionally, you will be barked at while walking past the fence, which hides a few buildings and is surrounded by a variety of parked police vehicles whose markings indicate that they belong to either training or transit division personnel (presumptively, one of those is what “TD” stands for) or are specific to the K-9 unit and it’s special needs. A few of the SUV type cop cars had decal lettering on their windows advising caution as to the presence of interior dogs.

What that truck pictured above looks like to me is a “kennel carrier,” and it’s designated as being TCU 7017. TCU 7018 was parked right behind it.

Now, about that Dermot Shea action figure…

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, May 11th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

May 11, 2020 at 11:00 am

chill wind

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Floop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is an often photographed and displayed Bodega here in Astoria, found across the street from my house, and the image is simply a “wide open” f1.8 test of a new lens I found myself having to purchase last week. My old “nifty fifty” is so full of dust, and has grown rather “cranky” after more than a decade of use that I needed to replace it. It seems that Canon has redesigned the thing since the iteration I’ve been carrying was issued, and I can report that they have improved it in several ways. Luckily, this is another one of the “cheap” lenses, so it didn’t eat up too much of that stimulus check I received. A Christmas present I received from a friend last year was a Yongnuo knockoff version of the original Canon lens formula, but it suffers from a series of defects in terms of chromatic aberration and missed autofocus which I cannot describe as being “charming” or “uniquely characteristic.”

One of the challenges I’ve set for myself is to see how many photos I can acquire without leaving the house, here in CoronAstoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bird on a wire? I’m told that what you’re looking at is a Morning Dove, which is a cousin to the more common Pigeon. What I can tell you, given my legendarily bad skills in describing the Ornithological sphere, is that when this particularly skittish bird gets excited and flies around it makes a sort of squeaking sound. I’ve been trying to catch a shot of a hawk which has been patrolling the neighborhood in recent weeks, but haven’t been able to make that happen. I really don’t know where the wildlife photographers of the world find their patience. A humble narrator gets bored easily.

I sing rhyming nonsense songs to Zuzu the dog all the time, and am almost ready to unveil a Broadway show worth of tunes with lyrics like “yellow sigma three, that’s what dogs say, dee dee dee dee.” I’ve also got a novella I’m working on with the dog which I call “Flippity Floppity Floop, it’s a lot of good to gloop.” You have to find ways to fill the time you’d normally be spending out there in the big old world.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My next door neighbor is a shut in, seems to own a couple of dozen cats, and has a plugged up drain on her roof. Additionally, the owner of the building next door to hers has been allowing his yard to go feral for several years – hence the dead tree slipped over her roofline. That’s the circumstance, but… you guessed it, more experimentation with esoteric camera technique is on display.

There are actually two shots combined into one up there. Both were shot with a wide open aperture of f1.8, and I used a technique which is common in macro photography to get it sharp throughout called “focus stacking” to combine them. The wide open aperture of f1.8 allows a low iso to be used, and also promulgates a quality of light capture which I find pleasing. Problem is that a wide aperture like f1.8 produces a narrow depth of field which is most easily explained as “if you focus on the eyes, the tip of the nose and the ears are blurry.” Stacking allows you too work around that.

Back tomorrow with something different, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, May 4th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

May 5, 2020 at 12:00 pm

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