The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Hells Gate’ Category

fumbling in

with 3 comments

Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

June 3rd saw a humble narrator drawn to Astoria Park by the annual Astoria Carnival. My initial intention was to buy a ticket and ride the Ferris Wheel pictured above in pursuance of capturing an uncommon view of the “zone,” but the high price of the ride coupled with the presence of smudged plexiglass on the cars made me reconsider.

Also, the carnival was positively mobbed with teenagers. I decided discretion wasn’t the better part of valor, and headed down to the waterfront along Shore Boulevard instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was an overcast and kind of humid day, which usually makes for decent sunsets, so my toes were pointed down at Hells Gate.

Really, that’s what this section of the East River is called.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One set up for landscape shots, with tripod and all the other gear deployed. The last time I was down here, I missed a few shots which just sort of “happened” when the camera was configured thusly, and when preparing for this evening’s activities I had a plan in place for the eventuality reemerging.

You can save a set of camera settings, assigning them to a camera dial position which Canon calls “creative settings.” There’s three of these dial positions available. I had set one up in advance for the circumstance of “I’m set up for long and slow exposure and a tugboat shows up.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thereby, when a tug actually did show up, I was ready for it. It isn’t anything obtuse, these settings, unlike the one I’m noodling for creating time lapses. The latter is something I’m still figuring out, which is why you haven’t seen any of that stuff yet.

Time lapse photography involves taking hundreds of shots at timed intervals and then lining them all up as an animated image. It’s different than video, as it’s a series of stills. This allows me to do what I do during the “developing” of the RAW format image files captured in camera. “Shoot for the edit” is the best advice I can give – other than “show up, do the work, go back home and finish the work.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “showing up” thing is a big deal for me. Keyboard Warriors abound in the modern world. They’re generally bitchers or moaners, like to describe the way the world used to be or the way it should be, and you don’t normally see them in person until somebody is handing out trophies or the press is there.

Sweat equity is what I’m built around respecting. Show up. Do the work. Go home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Turns out I was right about the atmospheric conditions producing a pretty spectacular sunset. Speaking of “shoot for the edit,” the shot above is actually three shots. The foreground one received a shallow depth of field and the focal point is right in the middle of Triborough’s reflection. The second shot is focused on the bridge’s Randall’s Island pierage, and the third on the Manhattan shoreline and sky. I changed up the exposure settings for all three as well, and then married them together using an extrapolation of the “focus stacking” technique.

Shoot for the edit.


“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 11, 2022 at 11:00 am

whisper leeringly

with 2 comments

Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On April 13th, I found myself at a rooftop bar on the east side of Manhattan, one which offered somewhat sweeping views of the East River. Queensboro Bridge was large and in charge, of course. In the lower right foreground, that’s “Four Freedoms Park” on Roosevelt Island. You’re looking in the general direction of Astoria, diagonally towards LaGuardia airport.

There you go, that’s what that looks like, and you didn’t have to pay $20 for an “old fashioned” to see it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On April 17th, a humble narrator felt like doing some shooting but didn’t want to return to Newtown Creek again, so Shore Blvd. alongside Astoria Park and the Hells Gate section of the East River was decided upon as a destination for the evening’s effort.

I’ve actually been trying to make it a point of being present during sunsets of late, as you may have noticed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hell Gate Bridge is to the north, Mighty Triborough to the south. These waters are still pretty complicated from a maritime point of view – strong currents and eddies. The United States Army Corps of Engineers blew this part of the river up “back in the day” to cure up the navigation issues, but it’s still a part of the harbor that requires a bit of skill on the part of whomsoever is driving the boat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I set myself up for “landscape mode” with the tripod and an ND filter and started capturing a series of longish exposures. It was so bright out, in fact, that even with the filter on I was getting no more than ten seconds worth of exposure time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As I’ve mentioned several times, high flying clouds turn colorful during sunsets. No guarantee you’re going to get scarlets and crimsons, but when you do…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I hung around until it got dark, then got scared by the presence of teenagers in Astoria Park so I rapid scuttled away from the area in a paroxysm of terror. One flew through the streets, his brain awash in the steroids of panic. Teenagers… brrr… no impulse control.

At HQ, I barred the doors behind me, and commanded Our Lady of the Pentacle to descend into the storm bunker with me and hunker down in case the adolescents had followed me home.


“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 6, 2022 at 11:00 am

turned restlessly

with one comment

Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As it turned out, February 23rd was a three Borough day for me. Woke up in Queens, hit the Bronx and then Manhattan, and then went back to sleep in Queens. I’ve since had a four Borough day which you’ll see in a couple of weeks. There’s also a two City day in the mix. When it’s reliably warm again, I plan on a 5 Borough day which will involve the entire solar cycle. Given how far ahead of schedule my photos are at this point – you’ll probably be seeing that in late June.

I had an unusually prolific and mission oriented winter and early springtime this year. I’m making up for lost time during the pandemic, and there’s something else on the horizon which is going to be pretty major and is going to absolutely rock my world. That’s something I’m going to be talking about a bit later on in the year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a pedestrian bridge, officially called the Wards Island Bridge (aka the 103rd street Pedestrian Bridge) which spans the Harlem River. It’s a vertical lift bridge which allows Manhattanites access to Randall’s/Wards Island. The Harlem River is a tidal strait connecting the Hudson River and East River. The bridge opened for use in 1951.

The light began to fail, as Manhattan’s long shadows began to envelop the waters of the East and Harlem Rivers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You always hope that you’re going to get a “real” sunset with oranges and crimson painting the vault of the sky, but nine times out of ten you don’t. Damned oceanic climate zone…

Oh well, might as well make the best of it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since I was all set up for a long exposure sunset, one set upon capturing a few shots of the type seen above and below.

Since I’m often asked to do presentations on this or that subject, photos which I can set type onto are oft needed. Thereby, my shots list always includes capturing ones with large fields of color that I can fill up with the sort of drivel that a scholastic audience expects.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It had been a long and kind of fun day for me, and right after the shot above was captured, the kit was packed up and the camera reset back to handheld shooting mode.

For the curious – remove the filter from the lens, as well as the shutter release cable, turn the lens stabilization system back on, pack up the tripod.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A quick ferry ride from East 90th street to Astoria occurred, and soon I was standing alongside Hallets Cove here in Queens. A half hour of scuttling brought me back to HQ.

Tomorrow – something different at thisyour 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

April 12, 2022 at 11:00 am

somewhat shamefaced

with 2 comments

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

slight blurring

with 2 comments

Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator didn’t have anything scheduled for the 23rd of February, and since one of my favorite things to do solo revolves around riding the NYC Ferry to some distant point, that’s what I did.

I boarded the Astoria line boat, headed over to Manhattan’s 34th street ferry dock hub, and transferred onto the Soundview line. Soundview heads over to the East River coastline of the Bronx, and the service had recently opened a new stop there – Ferry Point Park.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a stop at Manhattan’s East 90th street, NYC Ferry navigates through the Hells Gate section which adjoins Astoria Park. You get some pretty great views along the way. Saying that, they really open up the engines when heading north, so hold on to something. One hand for you, one for the boat.

The “normal” service on the East River is pretty smooth, and conducted at relatively low speeds. On the Rockaway, St. George, and Soundview routes, however, the boat is moving very fast and that means it’s bouncing around and smashing into waves.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tug and fuel barge combo was navigating south west as we left 90th street. Believe it or not, there are “lanes” in the water which ship captains have to follow. Navigational depth, underwater obstructions and hazards, wake sensitive shorelines and construction areas, even environmental factors go into the designation of these “lanes” by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Coast Guard. Also, boat people call these lanes “channels,” ok?

When leaving HQ, I had geared up fully and was carrying my entire traveling kit with me. since I wasn’t going to be trekking miles and miles on foot, I figured “why not”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fuel barge was empty. You can tell that by how high it’s sitting in the water, and there’s a line of corrosion midway up on its outer hull that gives an idea of where it sits relative to the waterline when full.

That fuel barge carries the equivalent cargo of 38 heavy trucks, incidentally. We are about 10-20 years from seeing self driving barges, ones that are electrical motor driven, navigating the nation’s waterways. In NY Harbor, you’ll nevertheless likely see a tug accompanying the things for a decade or two after the new technology appears and gets deployed into the wild. That will have more to do with safety and homeland security than operational concern.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moving up through Hells Gate, you first pass under Mighty Triborough’s East River Suspension Bridge. Triborough is a complex of bridges and highway on and off ramps, and one of the most complicated bits of engineering ever accomplished.

The East River span connects the Grand Central Parkway and Astoria/LIC’s local traffic to the bridge complex centered at Randall’s/Ward’s Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next up is the Hell Gate Bridge, which carries railroad traffic off of Long Island and into the Bronx. From the Bronx, rail heads north and then west onto the continent from the archipelago of New York City. If you want to see what it looks like from up there, check out this post from last fall describing an Amtrak trip to Vermont’s Burlington.

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 6, 2022 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: