The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Hells Gate’ Category

further liberation

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Friday odds and ends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few remaining shots from a recent scuttle across Astoria on are on offer today. Pictured above is one of the archways supporting the NY Connecting Railroad tracks on Astoria’s North side. The NYCRR allows for a heavy rail connection between the rail system of Long Island and via the Hell Gate Bridge – the North American continent via the Bronx. Other than loading freight rail cars onto barges, this is the only way Brooklyn/Queens/Nassau/Suffolk has to connect with freight rail. Note: when you’re talking about arched causeways made of concrete, you can use the word “via” all you want as it’s historically appropriate.

You jackholes spend all your time worrying about parking. I worry about the most strategically important spots in NYC, and look to heavy infrastructure as being the only way to forestall the climatological apocalypse predicted for the end of this century.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The closer I get to all the doomsday scenarios – which all seem to revolve around the four alchemical elements of fire, water, air, and earth – the more I realize that the only way to ensure that our civilization doesn’t collapse is for us to “America the fuck out of the problem” by rebuilding and fortifying the sort of infrastructure that our wiser forebears left behind for us. Right now, 95% of everything we eat, wear, or use is brought to us by truck from Port Elizabeth Newark over in New Jersey.

This needs to change. It’s inefficient and overly expensive to truck in masses of existential cargo, and we need to figure out a better way. Rail, barge, something else for bringing bulk goods to warehouses, and use trucks only for the “last mile.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, which is found on 30th Avenue here in Astoria. I’ve never been inside this building, despite having lived fairly close to it for nearly 20 years. I’m waiting for someone to invite me in, as I’m kind of like a vampire in that regard. I have no searing critique to offer, as I find its architecture satisfying.

Something different next week, have a good weekend, lord and ladies.

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, January 25th. 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

January 29, 2021 at 4:00 pm

diverse states

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Full throttle Thursday, and Merry Christmas.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in some detail yesterday, I’m playing around with the settings on the new camera, and trying to do so in visually interesting but lonely places. Part of this endless drivel about photographic process has mentioned the concept of combining multiple shallow depth of field and varied exposure shots into a single image, like the one above.

There are 38 individual photos incorporated into the shot above, and that’s what it looks like when a tugboat goes by at Hells Gate… what… how are you filling all the empty pandemic hours you’re experiencing? Sheesh, on Xmas eve, too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan for the holiday involves rewatching several episodes of the Star Wars “Clone Wars” series. As I’ve got the time this year, I’m trying to watch all of Star Wars in the order of story continuity, and having suffered through the first two of the prequels, its time to nestle into the winter with the cartoon series (which is arguably the best Star Wars ever done, imho). Don’t judge, I was a nerd before it was cool to be a nerd. The hipsters are nerd poseurs. Imagine giving a shit about how you look or what people think of you. Haircuts, the lot of them.

Pictured is another focus stacked but entirely different shot, depicting the Hell’s Gate Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mission accomplished, the camera was converted back to handheld mode, which is a process so incredibly simplified with the new unit that I kept on thinking that I missed something. My walk home involved crossing Astoria Park. It was an uneventful crossing with no wackadoodle interaction. I had to pee, and the air smelled like marijuana smoke. After finding a tree to water, and breathing in the atmospherics deeply, one was able to relax and slouch roughly into the scuttle back to HQ.

Merry Christmas, y’all, from the other fat guy with a white beard – the one in the filthy black raincoat.

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, December 21st. 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

December 24, 2020 at 11:00 am

rather undersized

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Woh, it’s Wednesday again, and FESTIVUS!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The images in today’s post represent a great deal of “in the field” improvisation and a minimum amount of in the studio photoshop work. They were done entirely “within camera,” which means that I didn’t do any retouching to them. Saying that, the gathering of these shots saw me changing exposure and focal points all wildly nilly. I still haven’t perfected the technique behind all this – although shots you won’t be seeing until 2021, which I gathered just the other night, suggest that the underlying logic governing what I’m doing here is finally revealing itself – but I’m pretty happy with these results. This is what I was hoping for, while I was freezing my tootsies off at the waterfront in December, so hooray.

Focus and exposure stacking, that’s what this thing I’m working on is called. The shot above was captured at f1.8, and if you click through to the original at Flickr you’ll be able to see individual rivets.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Frequent commenter George the Atheist, who is a knowledgable photographer in his own right, chides me often that I should just get on with it and do a long exposure. One often uses this technique, and long exposure has been a “thing” for me for quite a while now. Problem with long shots involving water, however, is that you lose all the surface detail in the waterbody as the long exposure shots render its as a mirror. This has it’s charms, of course, but I want the mirror AND some detail in the shot as well.

That’s what I mean when mentioning the term “intentionality.” Intentionality is the difference between a snapshot and a photograph, and the difference between “I meant to do that” and “I got lucky here.” Serendipity is awesome, but so is having an idea and then making it real.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If I was a patient person, I’d be photographing birds or something. I’m not a patient person, so I didn’t stand there at the East River (during mid December) long enough for a railroad Locomotive to arrive and cross the Hell Gate Bridge. That would have made this one of my favorite photos of 2020. Instead, I was slavishly punching buttons and moving the various settings about on the new camera, trying to bend it to my will.

There are twelve f1.8 2 second exposures ganged up into that shot above. Around four of them are seriously underexposed, one is highly over exposed, and the rest are on meter. I love that the entire image is sharp, that there are both mirror reflections and surface texture in the shot, and there’s a fullness to its contrast. I’m not stoked about the blown out lights in the Bronx or all along the horizon. I’ve since worked out how to shoot around that. I’m also really interested in the wave patterns, and plan on experimenting with that a bit next time I’m at Hells Gate.

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, December 21st. 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

December 23, 2020 at 11:00 am

ultimate step

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Tuesdays are a season all their own.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

During these pandemic months, when I’ve gone out for my constitutional walks, my toes have been generally pointed towards the Newtown Creek industrial business zone. The reasoning behind that is that a) I’m obsessed, and b) people and cooties.

People are infested with viruses, and therefore if I go to places with few or no people I’m less likely to contract a respiratory plague. I know, this sounds crazy to you Liberpublicans or Republitarians, but I’ve given up trying to convince ideologues about anything of late. If you don’t believe in COVID, don’t worry, the virus believes in you. I know 50-60 people who have had it, and by all reports – the experience is quite unpleasant even if you don’t die. Mazel Tov.

A new skill I’ve developed, thereby, during this interval is the ability to completely avoid all other human beings – even when passing through a fairly densely populated area like the 31st street/Hoyt Avenue corridors here in Astoria. I’ve become like a phantom in a black raincoat, a specter visible only to the wackadoodles.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My goal for this particular evening was to randomly point the new camera at different spots around the neighborhood for a bit, and then set up the tripod at Astoria Park’s Shore Road in pursuance of “getting technical” while photographing the wonders of the Hell’s Gate section of the East River.

Along the way, I spotted these two homes sporting rather tasteful holiday decorations, a fine example of what I call “ChristmAstoria.” As a note, I’m always rather uncomfortable when photographing somebody’s home. It would likely freak me out if I saw some ghostly creature in black taking pictures of HQ.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you’re wondering what I mean by “getting technical,” the shot above isn’t it. These were all handheld shots in today’s post, whereas the ones you’ll see tomorrow and Thursday were a bit more intentional in terms of composition and camera technique.

Pictured above is the Hell Gate Bridge in the distance, with a section of the Triborough Complex’s East River Suspension Bridge visible at top.

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, December 21st. 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

December 22, 2020 at 11:00 am

atomic weight

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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

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