The Newtown Pentacle

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blasphemous unthinkability

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My day on the NYC Ferry was timed to coincide with sunset, which has been a bit of an obsession for me this spring. Normally, I eschew the sort of monotonous obsession most photography people have with the solar cycle, but given that my time in NYC is now finite and the clock is officially ticking…

What the hell, why not?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Jamaica Bay is the body of water that follows Brooklyn’s south eastern coastline, and is fairly contained and defined as being north of the Rockaway Peninsula. It’s the water you see when you’re driving on the Belt Parkway, or landing at JFK Airport. Its beaches and tidal channels are where a young but already humble narrator used to go to escape from his parents, riding on his Apollo brand 3 Speed bike.

Funny how a kid used to be able to just ride a bike in NYC without dedicated bike lanes in “car country,” isn’t it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC Ferry, as mentioned a couple of days ago, really opens up the engines in this area. Given the shallow bottom of Jamaica Bay, you encounter real wave action hereabouts, and the Ferry’s speed couple with that saw me bouncing around in my seat. Let that one sink in, I was actually sitting down. That’s how fast the boat moves on the Rockaway route.

I’m planning on renting a car next month and driving around the old neighborhood one last time. That’s my other news… I’ve got an active and no longer expired Drivers License again. Hey – if you’re planning on moving out of NYC to America, you need a car.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My timing for this leg of my day on the ferry was working out perfectly. Everything according to plan, I would be standing on a dock in Manhattan just after 7 p.m., and at the time of year which these shots were captured – sunset was going to happen just about 8 p.m.

What was also great about this particular day is that I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s comfort or bathroom schedule or any of that sort of crap. Crotchety bullshit is just difficult for me to suborn these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m 54 years old. I haven’t exactly taken care of myself over the years and there’s lots and lots of physical issues that I deal with on a daily basis. I’ve been bitching and moaning about my trick left foot publicly, but that’s the tip of a god damned iceberg as far as what I’m feeling on a daily basis, even with my somewhat legendary tolerance for pain levels. I actually get tired now, have to sleep 7-8 hours religiously, and I don’t have the ability to absorb constant punishment that I used to count on anymore. A mild case of frostbite back in February slowed me down for an entire month with numbed fingers, for instance. A month!

I used to heal like the comic book character Wolverine. Not anymore.

Saying that, toughen the freak up and stop complaining about things you can’t control. Get on with it. Stop bitching or just stay home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bah!

At any rate, the NYC Ferry from Rockaway arrived at Pier 11 in Manhattan just as the East River light show began. I had been riding the system for about four hours, spent an entire afternoon and early evening on the water, and all it cost me was $5.50. Even better, the boats have snack bars, and bathrooms.

Back next week with more wonders at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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 24, 2022 at 11:00 am

every aesthetic

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

May 9th was a day I had no reason at all to wake up for. Nothing in the schedule, or at least nothing I wanted to do, and the following three days were filled with a loathsome schedule of “have to’s” and zoom meetings as well as a patch of rainy weather. Thereby, my goal for the day was to fill up my camera cards with images that would need processing, something I could do while listening to the virtue signaling and “blah, blah, blah” of the various meetings I had to attend.

Thereby, off to the NYC Ferry did I go, and an entire day was spent bouncing around from place to place in the Harbor of New York.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My first leg involved the Astoria line ferry, which leaves from a dock adjoining the campus of the NYCHA Astoria Houses nearby Vernon Avenue. The route moves south, and makes several stops. First up is Roosevelt Island, then LIC North nearby Anable Basin, then 34th street in the City. It continues to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and then the terminal stop is at Pier 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan.

The game I like to play with the ferry is to see how far I can can get on one ticket by transferring from one line to the other, your ticket stays active for 90 minutes, whereas the Astoria Route is about 45 minutes from Queens to Pier 11.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Pier 11, and I should mention that the shot above is from the Brooklyn Navy Yard stop, a quick scan of the scheduling screens revealed that a Rockaway bound boat would be leaving within my allotted transfer time, so that’s where I would be heading.

The Rockaway Boat leaves Pier 11 and makes a stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, after that they open up the engine and gun it for the peninsula. The “One way trip” to Rockaway is functionally an hour on the ferry from Pier 11.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The route carries you past Erie Basin and Gowanus Bay, and follows the Ambrose Channel towards the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge. Keep your eyes peeled, as there’s all sorts of interesting maritime industrial stuff you might encounter along the way.

I outfitted myself with my least favorite lens, a 70-300 consumer level zoom. It’s nowhere near as reliable as my other lenses, and is one of the oldest parts of my kit. I’d love to replace it, but can’t really justify spending the $ on doing so at the moment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tugboat called the Schuylkill passed the NYC Ferry I was riding on, and it’s named after the river flowing through Philadelphia which was recently discussed here after a day trip.

Coincidence? I don’t think so, as the entire world does actually revolve around me. I’m special, just ask me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ferry continued on its Rockaway bound heading, and I became entranced by a cargo ship sitting off the coast of… Staten Island… loading a barge with what appeared to be soil or gravel at the narrows.

More 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

June 22, 2022 at 11:00 am

somewhat shamefaced

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Camera in hand, lonely and friendless, filthy black raincoat snapping about in the hard wind of late winter. Sometimes I’m on a boat.

Having grown up in southeast Brooklyn (Canarsie/Flatlands), one’s native speech pattern is best described by recitations of the “Brooklyn Alphabet.” “Fuckin A, Fuckin B, go fuck yourself C, kiss my ass D” and so on. This is part of my heritage, and the Brooklyn accent of my parents would pronounce common words such as birds as “boids,” toilet as “terlet,” and oil as “erl.” As an adult, an attempt is made to show a finer veneer to all of the fancy pants people I meet. Dis is da struggol you gots when’s you growed up in Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thereby, one has embraced creative expressions of surprise for my daily use that don’t include the use of Brooklyn vernacular. Lately, I’m embracing ones like “by the misty mountains of Kuala Lampur” or “Great galloping Ganesh.” I don’t know if Kuala Lampur actually has mountains or not, or whether the beloved Hindu deity is known to gallop – but since Ganesh is an elephant, it probably would have a certain proclivity towards the occasional gallop – if only for shits and giggles.

“Holy jumping Jesus” is also another one of my refrains although scripture never mentions the Christian Savior as leaping about. My Lebanese buddy Sal has instructed me in the many possible usages of Allah u Akbar (god is great), which is the Islamic equivalent of Aloha or Shalom in terms of being an omnivorous response one is able to deploy in a variety of circumstances. New Baby? Allah U Akbar! Your mom died? Allah U Akbar… Sal has informed me that it’s all about inflection.

Saying all that, whether Ganesh or Allah or Jesus, you’re probably accidentally pissing someone off with an off hand religious reference, so “by the misty mountains of Kuala Lampur” it is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Riding back home on the NYC ferry from the Bronx, I got to exclaim “Holy Homeland Security” when I spotted this NYPD Harbor unit boat performing that particular mission for our ferry boat. Not too long ago, I was riding on the Staten Island Ferry and a couple of tourist types asked me why the Coast Guard was following our big orange boat with machine guns deployed while we navigated from Manhattan to… Staten Island…

They really couldn’t put it together about how big a target a ferry boat might be for the bad guys. I’d tell you who the villains are, but I’m not really sure anymore. Are we still mad at the Arabs? If so, I’ll let Sal know. As mentioned, he’s Lebanese, so not too big a fan of the Arabs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was nearly sunset, and an executive decision was arrived at to debark the boat at East 90th street, alongside Gracie Mansion, and find a spot to get set up with the tripod as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself dipped behind New Jersey.

Along the way, I couldn’t help but get a shot or two of the natural light painting occurring on the Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At East 90th, I took a minute to sit down and chill for a minute, then got busy again. If you set up a camera on a tripod and say “Eric Adams” three times, there’s a 40/60 chance he’ll appear, just like Candyman or Bloody Mary. Didn’t work this time, though.

This area at E 90th, by the way, is more or less the famous spot where the old Astoria Route ferry dock was found. The one that Robert Moses destroyed, an incident which Robert Caro wrote about in Power Broker.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was already beginning to disappear behind New Jersey as I found and claimed my spot.

From the looks I was getting from the passerby, you’d think that I had just released a kite into a thunderstormwhile laughing maniacally, in preparation of bringing a homemade monster to life. Really?

More 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

April 11, 2022 at 11:00 am

sorry planet

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described is prior posts, an NYC Ferry ride from Astoria to Manhattan’s 34th street allowed a humble narrator to intersect with a Bronx bound Soundview line ferry. Arriving at a new ferry stop, one navigated his way over to the Bronx Whitestone Bridge and a couple of hours worth of urban landscape photography ensued.

This portion of my day involved using a tripod, an ND filter to slow down and control the very bright afternoon sun, a cable release to negate having to touch the camera’s controls too much, and a Canon model R6 camera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While shooting these, a bit of a squall was building to the south west and the wind began to kick up. Before long, a solid wall of 15 – 20 mph wind had become continuous. A simple solution for this one is to use your body to block the wind, standing between the oncoming current and the camera rig. This only works so far, by the way, so it’s best to shoot a couple/three exposures for every composition.

This practice burns through the batteries pretty quick, but I’ve always got at least two fully charged extra ones in my camera bag.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You’re already there, so don’t rush. Look up, down, all around. Don’t just show up after traveling somewhere, click the shutter and say “I got it, that’s a day.” Keep looking. You’re there, and there’s plenty of time back at home later to not regret having captured more.

Try different exposure combinations. Do a focus stack. Maybe do a few HDR exposures. Narrow aperture versus wide open one. Keep working, don’t stop until it’s absolutely time to leave.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Go for textural shots. Storytelling involves “establishment shots” which are wide, close ups, mediums. Don’t stop shooting until you have to. Think about how movie directors do it. Try dutching the angle of the camera, put the thing on the ground and see what that looks like, is there anything you can safely climb on to get some perspective.

Shoot from your waist, from above your head. Up, down, all around.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What happens if you underexpose, or overexpose? Can you combine the two as a blended stack in photoshop? Take a minute and burn what the scene looked like visually into your memory. When you develop the RAW files later, that visual memory will come in handy.

Yes, the water actually did turn indigo blue in the late afternoon winter sunlight, as a passing high altitude cloud shadowed it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“One and done” is the statement of an egomaniac or an autist. Keep working. It’s digital photography, not film. Everything you shoot will be malleable when you’re back in front of the computer and processing the shots. Stretch the shutter speed out, or reduce it to a thousandth of a second. Maybe you can combine the two shots? Me? I like making waves look like smokey mist these days. You?

That’s my advice. What do I know, after all, as I’m just some schmuck with a camera, scuttling about. Filthy black raincoat blowing about in the wind, friendless and alone, walking down the waterfront.


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“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 8, 2022 at 11:00 am

escaping forever

with 2 comments

Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC Ferry carried a humble narrator’s horrific form northwards towards the Bronx, where a desire to have a look at the College Point facing section of the “The Undiscovered Country” awaited. “Undiscovered Country” is how I refer to the Bronx. The reason for this is ultimately that if I want to go to that Borough from Queens, it’s a longer train trip than if I wanted to visit Westchester, despite it being a half mile away across the East River.

That’s the price of Manhattancentric transit, by the way. It’s easier to get to the City from Astoria than it is to go to Maspeth or Ridgewood. Forget about the Bronx, you need to go to midtown and then ride a local train all the way through Manhattan. The NYC Ferry negates this, and puts the unknown country within reach.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Little Hellgate, which crosses the Bronx Kill, a tiny waterway that’s the only reminder of Randall’s and Wards Islands once being separate land masses. Notice the Amtrak train set on it heading north.

The ferry captain really opened up the throttle right about here, and I had to hold onto my hat for fear of having it torn away by the wind.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s been a Soundview stop on this ferry line since the day they inaugurated the service, one found on the south shore of an East River tributary called Westchester Creek. The new stop is on the north shore of Westchester Creek, and the stop is dubbed “Ferry Point Park” after the NYC Parks outpost found there.

Pictured above is the Bronx Whitestone Bridge, which is what really drew me in here. I don’t have many pictures of this one in my catalog, and this day trip involved the beginnings of an effort to fix that situation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s no good choice as to which path to follow along the water’s edge here. Either scuttle on the hard to walk in gravel, or on the muddy grass – it’s your call. I chose to pick out a path in the mud, as walking in loose gravel is sort of like walking in snow.

The park itself was actually quite well used, with joggers and families milling about and doing the sorts of things you’d associate with the human infestation – running, climbing, shouting – that kind of stuff.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A brief trek found me at the edge of the land, and under the Bronx Whitestone Bridge. Opened in 1939, designed by Othmar Amman, the Bronx Whitestone is a suspension bridge which carries six lanes of Interstate 678 over the East River. It’s towers are 377 feet tall, and with the approaches, the bridge is 3,700 feet long. The suspension section over the water is 2,300 feet long, and at the time of its opening this was the fourth longest bridge on the entire planet.

Owned by NYC but operated by the MTA Bridges and Tunnels Authority, it connects Whitestone, Flushing, and College Point in Queens with Throggs Neck in the Bronx.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once I was happily situated, the tripod and filters were deployed and the camera shifted into its “landscape modality.” Why do I keep on mentioning this sort of technical thing, you may ask?

When I meet younger photographers these days, they are generally geared up for a singular mission and aren’t “Omnivores.” This isn’t the way it works, I tell them. Different circumstances will be encountered at every intersection you come to. Sometimes it’s the zoom lens you need, other situations demand a prime lens with an ND or Polarizer Filter. Be ready for everything that might come your way, and get practiced in the art of quickly changing gears without damaging the gear. Military people practice breaking down and cleaning their weapons blind folded, as an example. Be ready.

More tomorrow.


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“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 7, 2022 at 11:00 am

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