The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Hells Gate’ Category

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

universal belief

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Supermoon in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One had yet another of the seemingly endless series of community meetings he is obliged to attend occur, and afterwards a friend gave me a lift over to Astoria Park so that I could wave the camera about for an interval. It was that unseasonably warm day we all experienced, and the celestial calendar indicated that a “supermoon” was going to occur. I had already decided, before getting to my location, that I wasn’t going to be trying to record the “astro” shot palaver where you can see all the details on the moon as well as a clear back and foreground, and was instead going to be shooting more of a landscape dealie with a glowing orb lighting up the sky.

To wit, above is the supermoon framed by the Triborough Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “palaver” mentioned above requires multiple exposures which are then combined in a photoshop composite. You expose one shot for the moon, which is actually as bright as the sun to the camera. Then you expose for the sky, and finally for the other elements in the composition. I’ve done this a bunch of times, so I’m quite familiar with the technique. One of the snags you hit with this however, is that despite what the perception of the human eye indicates, the moon is actually traveling at quite a clip through your frame. Depending on where it is in your frame, you’ve got between 2 and 8 seconds to “get it” before it’s movement causes motion blur. Since it’s night time, you need to calculate the other exposures and when compositing the final shot, compensate for the movement of the orb through the shot.

It is possible to “get it in one” of course, but that’s fraught with technical issues as well. I just went for the “ambience” instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thing is, I wasn’t feeling terribly secure as far as my personage when shooting these images. As is the usual case on nice nights, every “Astoria Boy” in the neighborhood was on station along Shore Blvd. There were hundreds, possibly even a thousand, of impulse control challenged post adolescents milling around down there. Their music, played at top volume, was terrible. The clouds of weed smoke rising from their assemblage and drifting across Astoria Park was intoxicating. If you like the “wacky tabacky,” save yourself a few bucks by just sitting downwind from this crowd.

Just to make sure I’m perfectly clear about this most salient of points – their music was computer generated (badly), irredeemable, and unabashedly terrible. Gah.

Teenagers… brrr.


“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 16, 2020 at 11:00 am

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