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

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

visual identity

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CoronAstoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Before the nightly helicopters begin circling the ancient village, just after sunset in fact, one staggered forth from HQ with the intention of taking a LONG walk. Said walk ended up being five and change hours long and covered around 12 miles of western Queens. What was cool about my night was that the only people I saw were blocks distant from me, or driving vehicles. Funnily enough, upon arriving at my inevitable destination amongst the concrete devastations of Newtown Creek, where one can find themself truly alone, I can finally relax a bit and let my guard down.

While marching around in areas zoned for residential occupancy, one walks quickly, hoping to leave the humans behind as quickly as possible for fear of contagion. Lurking in fear, indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One wears the mask in spots like these, even though there was no one on the street. The sidewalks are narrow, and it was garbage day. Cooties.

Once a certain geographic juncture has been surpassed, the mask goes in my pocket and for a time I can breathe easily again. The industrial neighborhoods are absolutely and completely deserted, save for an occasional warehouse storing foodstuffs, or near the yards of commercial shipping operations like FedEx and UPS. Knowing where these locations are, one avoids them. Getting out of Astoria and across Sunnyside along certain less travelled paths are fairly key.

South, I head south. I bob, and I weave.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in prior posts, one is desirous of open sight lines. I might just have to go for a ride on the NYC Ferry at some point, riding on the open top deck of course. As also mentioned, you couldn’t pay me to get on a subway right now, so after landing at Manhattan’s Pier 11, I’d have to either take another ferry, or walk back to Astoria along the East River from Wall Street.

I really want to feel some sunlight hitting my skinvelope, though, so maybe.

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, April 27th. 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

April 29, 2020 at 11:00 am

odd wrench

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Little birdies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Instinct is a non quantifiable resource, but I’ve always famously followed mine. It’s kept me out of a lot of trouble in the workplace over the years, helped me avoid wandering into race riots back in the 1980’s, and I’ve missed out on being trapped in a structural fire or two over the years because of it. I call instinct “my little birdie,” and when it’s chirping I listen. Desperate for diversion and chomping at the bit for some exercise, an otherwise perfect evening for photographic pursuit was marred by these chirps, so I opted to stay at HQ and see what I could conjure up. That’s the alley behind HQ, so if you’ve been wondering what it looks like behind the shops on Astoria’s Broadway, now you know.

What with the cessation of most automotive traffic and the airborne effluents of commercial activity, you could actually see the stars in NYC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having lived in NYC my entire life, the amount of sensory data which my eyes and ears normally “tune out” is fairly prodigious. The car engines and horns, the sound of raucous idiots gibbering at each other, even the bells on the door of the now closed Bodega chiming as customers enter and leave. The luminance of store signage, the chimney smell of restaurant fryers and stoves, the sound of some delivery guy chaining up his bike – all of that is missing. For the first few days after the shutdown began, my ears were ringing in the same way they do when I visit a rural or wooded area. Saying that, there’s too many ambulance sirens right now.

While shooting the shot above, I snapped my fingers and heard an actual echo.

Also, yes, my landlord still has a TV antenna attached to the roof. There are also about three generations of satellite dish up there, none of which are cabled to anything below the roof nor do they have any utility. The archaeologists of the future are going to absolutely love digging us up someday, and I mean Western Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another night, one wherein my little birdy was silent, and another walk through the empty streets. Constitutional exercise is required, and at least in my case the benefits are spiritual and psychological, as well as cardiologist pleasing. As mentioned several times, one is omitting the pleasure of listening to various forms of audio entertainment at the moment, in favor of remaining 100% aware of my surroundings. The streets… look a lot like the late 1980’s used to look – deserted at night except for weirdos like and unlike me, and with everyone else huddling up within their fortress apartments. The Cops are busy with other stuff right now, and there’s a real feeling of being on your own and “having to just handle it” if something untoward happens. Like I said, 1980’s.

There used to be a saying – People walk around like they’re safe or something.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the end of the week of Monday, March 30th. 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

April 9, 2020 at 11:00 am

black smoke

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What a nightmare.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Returning from a short constitutional walk the other night, a sudden explosion of FDNY activity drew my attention to the corner of Newtown Road and 45th street here in Astoria. A structural fire was consuming one of the older homes in the neighborhood, a wood framed one set back from the property line. It soon became an all hands fire, it seems, and FDNY units from both Woodside and Astoria were present, as was Rescue Unit 4.

I also captured a bit of video on my phone, which can be accessed here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The neighbors were all coming out of their houses to see what was happening, and lots of them were breaking out in tears over the spectacle. I suddenly realized that dozens if not a hundred people were forming a crowd and one beat it out of there quickly in the name of social distancing. Cooties.

I don’t know anyone who lives in that house, thought I, but as it turns out that wasn’t true. Somebody from the outer ring of my social circle did indeed live there and was now homeless. Under normal circumstance, this is plain horrible, and the normal systemic response would involve the Red Cross setting you up in a hotel for a couple of days while the insurance people figure out next steps. Fire insurance will usually pay for temporary lodging until the house is determined to be fixable or a total loss, at which point repairs are made or you have to find a new apartment.

During the current crisis – this is a nightmare scenario.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I posted the video of the fire to a couple of social media platforms, and made sure that City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer was aware of it, since this is not only his district but the neighborhood he grew up in. The next morning, a message was sent to me from a friend informing that the aforementioned “outer ring” acquaintance of ours was in fact now homeless and sleeping on their couch, and I made sure that JVB’s office had their contact information. Apparently, some sort of shelter for the poor fellow was arranged.

Structural fires are one of the things which I am worrying about more and more with all of us trapped inside. Be careful in your kitchens lords and ladies, and with those extension cords, and if you don’t have a fire extinguisher or two in your house – get some.

Also, on this date in 1909, the Queensboro Bridge opened for traffic. That’s your NYC history trivia of the day.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the start of the week of Monday, March 23rd. 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

March 30, 2020 at 11:00 am

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