The Newtown Pentacle

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mentioned yesterday, the building pictured above sits on the site of the first large scale petroleum refinery in the United States. It later became known as the Standard Oil Queens County Oil Works, but the original 1854 facility and its founder are described in this post from 2014.

Truth be told, on this particular evening, I wasn’t in “history” mode, instead I was focused in on taking pretty pictures of ugly things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot looks north, across Newtown Creek and at Queens, along the line which the Brooklyn Queens Expressway travels along between LIC’s Blissville section on the left, and Maspeth’s “West Maspeth” section on the right.

The BQE is sited along what was formerly (1870-1898) the legal line between the municipality of Long Island City and Newtown’s Village of Maspeth. Maybe it was already the “Town of Maspeth” back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries… something I’m not sure of, speaking in a purely calendrical manner.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back on the walkway of the Kosciuszcko Bridge, and once again setup with the tripod and all the other gear, I got busy.

You have never ending vibration problems up there, due to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway traffic running behind you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You can really feel it when a heavy truck rolls by at speed up there, and mid span there’s a discernible flex when one shouts by. It’s not at all disconcerting, but it’s a factor if you’re doing a longish exposure up there as the vibration can transmit up the tripod and shake the camera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For some reason… ahem… the bridge’s fences offer apertures just big enough for me to slide my favorite lens through… ahem…

There’s a trick to shooting up here which revolves around making sure that neither the tripod legs nor the lens are making the slightest physical contact with the fence, as it transmits the traffic vibration.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Satisfied that I had actually made it worth getting up that morning by doing something useful and fun, I packed up the bag and headed back to HQ.

More tomorrow.


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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

May 24, 2022 at 11:00 am

glistening with

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On March 30th, a Wednesday which also happened to be the anniversary of the Queensboro Bridge opening in 1909, a humble narrator scuttled over to the Koscisuzcko Bridge from Astoria hoping to encounter a nice sunset over the fabulous Newtown Creek.

High clouds equal a fifty/fifty chance of a light show at sunset, so I decided to throw the dice.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One had planned in a bit of buffer time for this effort, and I had a couple of hours to wander around and see what I could see.

Looking down from on high at the ragged coastline of the Borough of Queens, in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

More of that ragged coastline, pictured is the Queens landing of the former Penny Bridge. There also used to be a Long Island Railroad stop down there.

Heading south on the K-bridge, one crossed the line into Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a couple of large waste transfer stations down there, and the managers of the one pictured above never fail to hassle me when I’m taking pictures of them on the street. Ever since the walkway on the bridge has been open, I now make it a point of cracking put a few exposures.

Humps.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section, this burned out semi truck was noticed.

I thrive on other people’s misfortunes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the newish “Under the K bridge park” in Greenpoint, and looking towards Queens at the site of the first large scale petroleum refinery in the entire country over in Queens’ Blissville section, and across the fabulous Newtown Creek.

When the sky started getting colorful, I got ready to head back to a point of elevation on the walkway above.


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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

May 23, 2022 at 11:00 am

devoured avidly

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A long walk to my happy place – Industrial Maspeth – resulted in a humble narrator returning to HQ with several interesting shots on the camera’s memory card. The Kosciuszcko Bridge is all lit up like a Greek coffee shop these days, with outré LED lights that cast a weird luminescence on the surrounding landscape and upon the lugubrious Newtown Creek that it spans.

I’ve mentioned a landscape photography technique called “focus stacking” in the past. You shoot multiple exposures of the same scene, while moving the focus point of the lens about. This gives you a series of “tack sharp” foreground, middle ground, and infinity point images which are then combined into one shot during the developing process. The shot above isn’t one of these, as a note, it’s just a “normal” exposure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I’ve noticed, however, when gathering images for these “focus stacking” images, is that if the Kosciuszcko Bridge is going through its lighting sequence while you’re shooting the photo sequence, the changes to hue and color offered by the bridge end up becoming part of the final image. Like many of these sorts of discoveries, it became apparent to me when a sunset focus stacking shot of the Kosciuszcko Bridge formed a rainbow. The image was weird, as it wasn’t intentionally shot that way, but one said “hmmm.”

Hence, the focus stacking photos above and below, wherein I timed the shutter to coincide with the bridge’s lighting package cycling through reds and purples. I was also trying to be conscious of maintaining some texture in the water, rather than letting it turn into a glassy mirror as in the shot below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These were shot from the bulkheads of what was once called Phelps Dodge, in Maspeth. I’ve shown you the Hindu god statue that’s secreted away in the piles of this section of Newtown Creek in the past.

What I’m up to in these shots, experimentally speaking, is turning focus stacking into time stacking.


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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

February 28, 2022 at 11:00 am

limitless limitations

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst scuttling about on a recent evening, one met an Opossum. I have no idea if the critter was a he or a she or a they, but it seemed nice. Are there trans or non gender conforming opossums, and do we have to worry about their feelings? The thing was vamping for me, and since I had just updated the firmware on my camera with what Canon promised as being “improvements to the eye tracking autofocus for animals and people” this situation presented an excellent opportunity for me to test the improved feature out.

Apparently, a big part of this face and eye tracking update involved adapting to the presence of Covid masks. The Opossum wasn’t wearing one, and neither was I for that matter, but there you are. Speaking as someone who has treated Covid with a great deal of respect over the last two years, it absolutely flummoxes me when I see people who are entirely alone – and outside – wearing masks. Same thing with people who are driving solo and wearing one. Why?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, when I was riding around on various Amtrak’s in the September and December, and on Subways here in the City, you’d have had to pry the mask off my cold dead face before I’d remove it willingly in an unventilated congregate setting. Outside, though? Unless it’s a truly crowded sidewalk – a protest or maybe a press event – I’m bare faced. Ventilation, people, ventilation. Also, distancing, people, distancing. This isn’t advice, you do you.

Recent occasion found me at the Jackson Heights intermodal subway and bus station at Broadway and Roosevelt Avenue here in Queens, where a masked up crowd formed into tight rows less than a foot away from each other when either boarding the escalator or awaiting the train’s arrival. Me? I was masked up, but stood well away from everybody else and their clouds of cooties. Why crowd in? What advantage is there? Who are you trying to beat out for pole position in terms of boarding the R? I guarantee you’re going to get onto the train, why do you need to be first?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My evening’s destination, which the pursuance thereof had precipitated meeting the nice Opossum, was the Newtown Creek waterfront in Maspeth. The former bulkheads of a long gone copper refinery and chemical factory called Phelps Dodge offer a commanding set of views of the Kosciuszko Bridge as well as a few other interesting things to point a camera at.

As far as Newtown Creek goes, the waters which greasily lap at the Phelps Dodge shoreline are generally considered to be the most deeply compromised – environmentally speaking – on the entire waterway.

Back next week with more – 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.

amorphous amenity

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lucky. Just happened to be in the right place at the right time, which happened to be the Brooklyn/Queens border, found on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, at about 8 o’clock at night on a Friday in middle January. The tug is the CMT Pike, a 1979 vintage push boat operated by Coeymans Marine Towing.

This was a very, very difficult shot to get the exposure right for, as a note. The difficulty was due to the contrasting environment of bright lights and deep shadow, and complicated by the boat being operated at full steam and sliding quickly across the gelatinous waters of Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One doesn’t like heading home along the same path which he left it from, so my toes were pointed in a generally “Maspethian” direction for the return leg of things. There’s a little park, on Review Avenue at the corner of Laurel Hill Blvd., that was constructed along with the new Koscisuzcko Bridge. One likes to have a bit of sit down there when out for a long walk, and although sitting on a block of concrete in January isn’t exactly comfortable, it’s still nice to be able to take a load off for a few minutes and “unclick” my back.

As long as I was there, why not get in a couple of shots of the bridge? Why be lazy when you’re already out and about, and sitting down on a block of frozen concrete which is draining your body heat away through your butt?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My path back to HQ in Astoria found me walking through Sunnyside Gardens, and looking over my shoulder a lot. My paranoia alleviates around Newtown Creek, given how relatively depopulated it is. Sunnyside, however, enjoys quite a dense population. Using my old rubric that 2 out of every 10 people are straight up evil, what that means is that when you’re moving through a densely populated neighborhood about 20% of that population might screw with you.

My “rule” is that out of every ten people, two are evil and two are good. The remaining six are in the middle, and can go either way depending on whether or not they follow their social cues from the good two or the evil two. “The company you keep” isn’t just something your grandmother warned you about, in my mind.


“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

February 23, 2022 at 11:00 am

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