The Newtown Pentacle

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Thursday’s, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That photo up there was surprisingly difficult to capture, but not because of any technical or camera related issue. Instead, it was the wind. The tripod I use was chosen for its “carry-ability” and beat out several other contenders for my hard earned cash in terms of its weight. That’s actually where it’s fatal flaw manifests – it’s quite light. Normally, this isn’t much of an issue, but at Hells Gate the other night, steady winds were introducing vibration into the setup and blurring the shot. A “proper” tripod would weigh four or five times what mine does (I have two of those, which get left at home) but then you have a ten and change pound pile of metal you’re carrying. Saying that – a heavier tripod would have locked down to the ground, gravity wise, and cancelled out the wind effect somewhat.

When you walk miles and miles, as I do, getting even a half pound out of your camera bag is a victory. Remember, I’ve been using two tiny prime lenses for the last year almost exclusively. The heavy “glass” zoom lenses have been siting in a camera bag for most of the pandemic, a habit I got into a year ago when I broke my big toe.

F11, ISO 200, 30 seconds – that’s the exposure triangle formula for this one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just because the prime lenses are low in weight doesn’t mean they’re not capable devices. I continue to be staggered at just how good Canon’s 24mm pancake lens is. It can be a bit wonky on autofocus in low light, but there’s ways around that. The downed tree in the shot above was barely visible with the naked eye due to it being in shadow, but a quick bit of flashlight work allowed the 24mm enough light to lock onto it and then it was just a matter of figuring out the right exposure.

For you photographers out there – f4 at ISO 200, 25 seconds. The only blur in the shot was introduced by the wind wobbling the branches about. The 24mm is razor sharp at f4, which I can’t say about my far more expensive and heavy zoom lenses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Citibike racks placed on the sidewalk, as I’ve found out, are tantamount to opening a Nazi death camp for the bicycle people. They want the racks placed on the street pavement, which has absolutely nothing to do with their political campaign to reduce the number of free parking spots for cars in NYC. The rack pictured above, for instance, translates to around five parking spots. Ideological concerns trump everything else for that crowd, including the ultra mundane set of rules and laws which both the Citibike and NYC DOT people must oblige.

I’m told by the powers that be that the racks are placed where they are (sidewalk versus street) in response to the needs of emergency vehicles, underground and overhead utilities, and the turning radiuses of mass transit vehicles like buses.

Since I’m doing this today – f4, ISO 100, 2.5 seconds.

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, November 2nd. 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 here, 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

November 5, 2020 at 1:30 pm

unpremeditated specimens

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Friday is Shabbos, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A last look from a recent trip to Randalls/Wards Island, which looks like the future but it’s an 80 years old version of future here in the House of Moses. Another cool thing about Randalls/Wards is the presence of the inspiration for Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum in the Batman universe. There’s also a sewer plant, the Fire Dept. Academy, all sorts of Cop infrastructure… the City keeps a lot of its toys here.

As mentioned, this day trip was a bit of a scouting expedition for my pal Val and I, looking everywhere and anywhere for interesting photographic opportunity.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I couldn’t stop shooting the whole time I was there. Pretty much everywhere I looked, there was an interesting point of view. Our trip to the island occurred in the late afternoon and early evening, next time I come here I hope to do so in the morning to see what that looks like.

I am definitely coming back here, and next time I’m thinking about coming out on foot via the pedestrian approach on mighty Triborough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of, me and my pal Val piled into her car and we headed back to the blessed shores of the ancient village of Astoria. She forked over a bunch of bucks in tolls crossing to and from on Mighty Triborough so to recompense a plate of food was bought for her at one of the neighborhood’s new out door dining piazzas.

I treated myself to a burger and a couple cups of Guinness, thereby calorically undoing whatever benefit the days exercise would have brought.

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, July 20th. 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 here, 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 24, 2020 at 11:00 am

kindred eccentrics

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Thursday’s just kind of happen, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I could talk, in a completely uneducated manner, about inverted trusses and why they’re cool. Instead, I’d refer you to google and tell you to read up on what an actual engineer has to offer on the subject. That’s the Hells Gate Bridge, as seen from its western base on Randalls/Wards Island. Surprisingly, this section of the rail bridge is a bit different, visually at least, than the more familiar section (to me) that towers over Astoria Park on the Queens side.

As mentioned earlier in the week, Randalls/Wards Island is a novel place for me, one which I incongruously haven’t explored. My inclination is to go the other way, towards my beloved Newtown Creek, when I’m taking the camera out for a walk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was able to get up close and personal with Hells Gate, and stood directly in front of its masonry pier when shooting the inverted truss structure pictured above and below. The bridge is part of the NY Connecting Railroad, which runs first to Sunnyside Yards and then the East River tunnels into Manhattan on the Queens side. It continues over Randalls/Wards, where the bridge ultimately connects to the Port Morris section of the Bronx and the Oak Point Rail Yard. From there… well… as mentioned in earlier posts, what I know about the Bronx wouldn’t fill a thimble.

This shot points eastwards on the right, towards Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You just can’t help but do some abstraction around this bridge, with all the structural steel flying around. Oddly enough, Hells Gate has no structural lighting kit, and at night all you can see is a silhouette with the odd navigational signal or blinking aviation beacon attached to it against the night sky. The bridge is the property of the Amtrak outfit, and you regularly see their Northeast Corridor passenger trains crossing it. There are also freight trains, which are more often than not operated by the CSX company. I’m not sure if other rail companies operate on this former New York Central Railroad Company span.

As long as you’re googling inverted truss bridges, you might as well search for Operation Praetorious. That’s the one where Nazi saboteurs wanted to blow the Hells Gate Bridge up during WW2, an operation foiled by the Greatest Generation’s Antifa. Those ubiquitous rascals are everywhere, ain’t they?

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, July 20th. 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 here, 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 23, 2020 at 11:00 am

adroitly pumped

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Wednesday has happened again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Still on Randalls/Wards Island, but looking wistfully towards Astoria Park and Queens whilst under the Triborough Bridge, imagine my joy at the sudden arrival of an NYPD Harbor Unit vessel which pushed through the scene. There’s a base and berth for the gendarmes on the Harlem River side of the island, but I don’t know if that’s where they coming from or going to.

One refuses to use the secondary name for Triborough Bridge, or for the Queensboro, until they rename the Brooklyn Bridge as the Michael Bloomberg Bridge. Sounds crazy, huh? Renaming Mighty Triborough or the majestic Queensboro after other politicians doesn’t? No respect, I tell ya, no respect.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s no possibility that something like what you see above can cross in front of my lens with me not being drawn to capture it. I’ve talked about this many times during tours conducted on the Soundview Ferry line, but Triborough is one of the great historical feats of civil engineering and industrial power. There’s a theory which postulates that this bridge is the reason that WW2 went as well as it did for the United States, offering that the Triborough operations orders for steel alone restarted that entire sector of the American economy during the darkest years of the Great Depression. Factor in the labor, the concrete, the forest of wood needed for scaffolds…

That’s something to consider, while looking forward at the next few years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Randalls/Wards Island offers an up close and personal look at another one of NYC’s wonders, the Hells Gate Bridge. Carrying railroad tracks rather than vehicle lanes, as Triborough does, this arch bridge is thought to be the most permanent structure in the entire city. Supposedly, long after the Empire State Building has collapsed and the other East River bridges have been reduced down to masonry piers with no span between them, the Hells Gate will still be more or less intact.

In the foot steps of giants we do walk.

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, July 20th. 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 here, 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.

damnable resemblance

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A bit more Triborough, and some thoughts on the current crisis…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ok, here’s the way things are going to go here at the old Newtown Pentacle “for the duration.” I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next couple of weeks at the start of the week of Monday, March 16th. 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. That’s the reality right now, it’s all a craps shoot. As of right now, all of my tours and summer events are on hold until we see the way this shakes out.

Also, if anything truly critical happens which needs to be broadcast, I’ll augment the regular blog schedule with news posts. If you’re in any kind of trouble and need help, here in Astoria or in LIC, contact me here and I’ll try to make the powers that be aware of your situation. This isn’t 911 or anything, but I’ve got a line of communication or two with officialdom that most people don’t have, so consider me as a resource.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speculative logic, as in purely speculative – Epidemiological playbooks for the United States Government can and might take the form of soldiers deployed on our streets. Their mission might and will probably include maintaining law and order (the cops are going to be overwhelmed, and will get sick too), as well as vouchsafing and handling the delivery of essential supplies, and possibly handling mortuary practicalities. Border control between the States might happen too. I’ve already seen some goofy things happening on the streets here in Astoria, including some jack ass beating up his girlfriend in front of my house a couple of nights ago. You REALLY don’t want to be incarcerated right now, so best behavior, all.

The traditional American sophistry says that “we’ll get through this together,” whereas the Coronavirus pandemic utterly negates the concept of “together.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So… I hope you’re all doing what you can to stay safe and healthy. Saying that, an aerosol based virus is a very difficult thing to control and contain. If you encounter a situation where you can be kind as opposed to cruel in the coming weeks, please consider enacting the former behavioral set. Check in on your family and friends, via phone rather than just text, especially those in your circle who suffer from mood disorders and other psychological bad weather. Tell people you love that you love them. Don’t start a witch panic by sharing obvious malarkey on social media.

If Newtown Pentacle stops updating, and a humble narrator is no more, please look in on Our Lady of the Pentacle occasionally and make sure that she has enough milk for her tea.


“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 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

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