The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘New York Harbor’ Category

absolute possession

with 2 comments

I’d love to fly somewhere, but I got nowhere to go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A last few shots from my ferry trip last week are on offer today. One of the interesting things about the Soundview Ferry route is that it crosses right under the LaGuardia Airport approaches for jets. That means you get to see passenger planes descending towards you with their wheels deployed, which is something that you don’t get to see very often without getting to meet the folks at Homeland Security.

As a note, I’ve never liked the moniker “Homeland Security” as it stinks of authoritarian and fascist terminology. Fatherland, Motherland, Homeland… language which propagates an “us and them” mentality, which is the sort of mentality that resulted in this whole “permanent terrorism” threat and “forever war” dealie in the first place. It’s also a lot harder to talk rationally about “abolishing ICE” if you present it as the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement norms. I advocate for changing the operational orders of these two monolithic organizations, modernizing our immigration system, and spending giant buckets of cash on customs, which are all necessary and wise investments in the future.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve had a weird experience during this very busy first week of April, which is that I’ve been around a lot of people who actually like me. This blows the whole self perceived “hated and shunned outsider” thing. It is necessary for my personal immigration and customs enforcement, as well as my self perception that my psychological “ID” continually reminds my “EGO” that everybody actually hates me and that parties will be thrown when I’m no longer walking the planet.

To that end, I’ve been a wise cracking asshole every chance I get, hoping to make people hate me again. It doesn’t seem to be working. I just got the letter Monday from the Borough President’s office that I’ve been appointed to the local Community Board here in Astoria. No, really.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the dock at Rikers Island in the shot above. Just beyond is the former Politti Power Plant, and the Hell Gate Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline. Seriously, I’d recommend taking a ride on the Soundview route of the NYC Ferry, it’s super interesting and takes you to a seldom travelled part of NY Harbor. On June 15th, you’ll be able to ride this ferry route with me, but I’ll tell you about that outing at a later date.

Scroll down for a couple of announcements for public stuff I’ve got going at the end of April. “It doth begin again,” tour season does.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Advertisements

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 4, 2019 at 1:00 pm

indelible mark

with one comment

Some new gear on display in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is always hunting around on camera oriented websites for new bits of gear, lenses, gew gaws, doohickeys, and or doodads which might make my life a bit more interesting as I wander around the City of Greater New York with a camera. There’s a couple of Chinese camera sites that I keep an eye on, which are really hit and miss on the “get what you pay for” front, but recently I decided to take a chance on a manual focus lens which promised a built in series of polarizing filters that would produce an extraordinary result. This is a 65mm prime, with a decidedly small aperture (f4-11) range, but it’s optical formula and clever mechanical plan is designed to allow the user to see both above and below the surface of water bodies at the same time. It’s offered by a company I never heard of before – the Mumma Cei, Xi, & Akkuseh (MCXA) group and is manufactured by something called the Szeihaloud Cooperative. Google translate tells me that Szeihaloud means “great maker” or something, and that their glass factory is located in the dry regions of northwest China. That’s odd, normally electronics gear comes from the coastal cities of the south, but nothing ventured nothing gained. MCXA’s site claims that there’s something special in the mineralogy of the sands of the region they’re located in which lends unique qualities to their ground glass products. At least that’s what I think they’re saying… Chinese website version of English, if y’know what I’m saying…

What the heck, it was only a hundred bucks. I’m glad that I ordered the thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First – MCXA’s 65mm lens, which they call the X-51, is an ergonomic nightmare. It’s got all these jangly little knobs on it for independently manipulating the eight linear polarizer filters housed within the barrel. Said barrel is plastic, and when I unwrapped my little care package from the Silk Road region the interior of the box actually had some kind of orange powdery substance which smelled vaguely of cinnamon mixed with saffron inside of it, a scent that made me a bit woozy. The lens was packed in a sealed plastic bag so that wasn’t too much of an issue. The glass itself was nice and sharp, which was surprising, once I got it past f 5.6. It’s pretty heavy, and manual focus is a chore, especially with those eight knobs arrayed around the focus ring.

The startling part was that the thing actually worked as promised, allowing me to photograph both the surface details of the waters of the East River (pictured above) and provided visual egress to that which lurks below while I was riding on a NYC Ferry last week. I look forward to putting the thing on a tripod and seeing what can be revealed at Newtown Creek.

Of course, the lens and camera were set for a daylight exposure formula, so sub surface features were darkened.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

MCXA has another bizarre lens I’m now interested in, which promises Flouroscope like qualities, allowing you to peer “under the surface” and revealing the internal structures of both animals and plants. They call it the “God Emperor of lenses,” or at least that’s what Google Translate says the series of Chinese characters on its offer page means. I tell you, the Chinese century looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. As is my habit, new glass and other camera gear is typically acquired during the tax filing season of the early spring.

I usually like to add a new lens to my kit every April, and especially so on April the 1st.


“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 1, 2019 at 1:00 pm

present bungalow

with 8 comments

Flushing Bay, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week I attended a meeting thrown by the NYC Parks Dept. detailing their $35 million dollar upgrades to the World Fair Marina in Flushing Bay. The plans involved relocating and rebuilding one of the docks, installing a new facility house and refueling dock, and installing a bunch of new street furniture on the public sections of the marina (benches, lamp posts etc.) It was my kind of meeting, truth be told, where the government people deliver their information in a punchy and well organized fashion, and public commentary is offered in a businesslike and terse fashion. My main interest in attending revolves around a long term bit of advocacy for Newtown Creek’s Queens shoreline which I’ve been working on, namely the creation of a similar marina on the Newtown Creek coastline Long Island City, and I wanted to take a look at “how it’s done” in the modern era.

Afterwards, a bit of time was spent outside with the camera and tripod, shooting into foggy darkness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just like the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, the NYC DEP has been experimenting with the installation and planting of greenery, specifically Saw Grasses, in the littoral zones at Flushing Bay. Littoral means the intertidal area of the shoreline, and they’re engaged in the project for the same reasons that they are at Newtown Creek – mitigating the long term environmental consequences of an abundance of their Combined Sewer Outfalls on the waterway. DEP, or the New York City Department of Environmental Protection if you must, inherited a messy combination of underground pipes from precursor agencies when their organization was created during a 1983 City charter revision, many of which were installed in a hodge podge manner and prior to the Federal Clean Water act.

Due to the outfalls, a lot of raw sewage has historically found its way into area waterways, and the section of Flushing Bay nearby LaGuardia Airport and the World Fair Marina is notoriously and reliably smelly. The creation of these engineered wetlands is an attempt to harness the curative powers and mechanisms of nature in pursuance of fixing a manmade problem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the section of the north shore of Queens which isn’t forbidden, as a note. There’s a NYC Parks property which sits between the water and the Grand Central Parkway called the Flushing Bay Promenade. It’s 1.4 miles long, starts at the equivalent of 27th avenue, and is a modern addition to the Flushing Meadows Corona Park facility whose creation was funded by the NYC DEP in return for Parks allowing them to build a sewer retention tank in the main park.

When it warms up a bit, I plan on bringing the camera back out here to the promenade and do some exploring.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 14, 2019 at 11:00 am

city guard

leave a comment »

Happy Day, Veterans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A single shot of the United States Coast Guard on patrol today, as a reminder to not forget that they’re out there right now in the wet and the cold as you’re reading this. It’s not about sentiment and then, it’s about existential and now.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 12, 2018 at 12:17 pm

denizens of

with one comment

The horror…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy Halloween, Lords and Ladies. The shots in today’s post were actually captured last night, so the pixels are still wet on them. One had a sudden desire to “get out,” and wander through the night. Such sudden callings to commune with the darkness are impossible to ignore, and often it seems as if some other intelligence has taken possession of my actions when such moods suddenly manifest. The filthy black raincoat flapping in the oil stained breeze, a humble narrator often hears the call of the children of the night in the concretized devastations surrounding the loathsome Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s not a smell you encounter during low tide at Dutch Kills, rather it’s an aroma that greets you when the black mayonnaise is exposed to the air. That’s when the things which slither and slide through its greasy melange can be observed, and when other things best left uncommented upon are revealed. One is never concerned about those lower intelligences which feed upon and live in the toxic mud, as if you leave them alone they will ignore you in return, rather it’s the shadowy forms moving and chittering beyond the chain link fences which should raise concern.

Given the time of the year, Queens Plaza is avoided assiduously, for autumn is ideal vampire weather and the steel rafters of the elevated subways are infested with the things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Coelacanths have not been spotted in the East River, yet. Saying that, other ancient forms of aqueous life are said to squirm about on the bottom. Were these impossibly intelligent and impressively ancient amphibian things ever motivated to do so, they would rise from the depths to strike down our civilization in order to teach mankind new ways to revel and enjoy ourselves. It’s happened in great cities before, elsewhere.

What do you think happened to the Mayans? Climatological collapse? Feh.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

often waylaid

with 2 comments

If you want spooky, Industrial Maspeth at night is your best bet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s nothing spookier than a feeling of personal vulnerability, a discernment of solitude, and the certainty that there’s no escape should trouble or danger arise. Most avoid finding themselves in this sort of situation, a humble narrator instead seeks them out. After attending a performance art event at a friend’s house nearby which was both artsy and fartsy, one headed in the direction of that notorious cataract of municipal indifference called the Newtown Creek and got busy with the camera, Saturday last. It was sort of late, about ten p.m. I’d wager, and fairly comfortable climatically so a short scuttle into the nighted concrete devastations found me headed towards the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road.

The streets were empty, except for a few security guards sleeping in their security guard boxes at the MTA’s Grand Avenue Depot, or Sanitation workers enjoying weekend overtime shift work and smoking cigars in front of a DSNY garage. A humble narrator, filthy black raincoat flapping about, pretty much had the place to himself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was no sign of any sort of life other than the aforementioned municipal employees and errant geese, the latter of whom were heard rather than seen. Every now and then, I’d spot the eye reflection of feral felines prowling about in the darkness. For once, I was carrying a fairly ok consumer level LED floodlight, so I waved it around a bit while shooting. It’s pretty bright up close, as a note, but once you get past six or so feet from the thing it’s emanations begin to diffuse out to nothingness.

One of the many things which I “nerd out” about are flashlights. There’s two ways to describe the output from a “torch.” The first involves the actual light output of the thing, which is measured in “lumens,” the second is “throw.” Throw involves how far the light travels as a cohesive beam. The particular flood light I have is great on the lumen count, just not so great on the throw. With a long exposure night shot, however, it’s really about producing just a little foreground detail in what would otherwise be a field of blackness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I wave the camera around at Plank Road all the time, but for some reason I had the distinct sensation that somebody was both nearby and watching me. There were occasional sounds coming from the brush surrounding the clearing at the water’s edge, but as mentioned – geese, and cats. I’m sure that there was some watership down action involving rats going on as well, but those sneaky little bastards are great at not being seen or heard.

This is what was behind me, which I kept on craning my neck around to check on due to paranoid imaginings.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last time I published a shot similar to this one, which included a lens flare just like the one seen above, a whole thread of comments was unleashed about the visual artifact and its coloration. I was advised to retouch it out, which I rejected. Despite the many years I spent professionally engaged as a Madison Avenue Advertising Photo Retoucher, perhaps because of that, I tend to try and do everything “in camera.” There is a slight bit of alteration in the shot above, other than normal adjustments for brightness, contrast, and color temperature to the “raw” file – an exposure gradient is laid into the extreme top of the shot to darken up the otherwise fairly blown out concrete plant and sky.

I’m not against monkeying with the shot, obviously, but given the level of manipulation that’s possible these days I try to maintain the integrity of the original photo as much as possible whenever possible. If a lens flare manifests in camera, it’s part of the scene as I shot it and it stays.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking to the west along Newtown Creek from the Maspeth Plank Road, with the Kosciuszcko Bridge all lit up like some strumpet, or a Greek coffee shop. That purple beam rocketing up out of the bridge’s lights is visible from a couple of miles away back in Astoria. One cloudy or rainy nights, there’s a giant luminous blob of unnatural color visible in the sky.

I’m still debating whether or not I like this part of the new bridge, but I can tell you that the saturated colors produced by its powerful LED lighting wreaks havoc when developing night shots and it’s a real challenge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “tripod section” of my night accomplished, one affixed a “bright lens” to the camera and began scuttling back towards Astoria. The walk home to HQ was uneventful, but I didn’t find my way inside the domicile until well after midnight.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 23, 2018 at 11:45 am

sordid waylaying

leave a comment »

I don’t like Mondays.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here’s your historical trivia fact of the day, to start – on October 22nd in 1879, Thomas Edison electrified the first carbon filament electric light bulb, which stayed lit for some thirteen and a half hours before burning out. This was the first practical light bulb, and demonstrated the underlying technology which would change everything everywhere for the human race, and solidify Edison as both a historical figure and as a wealthy man. Another one of the technological predicates which those of us born afterwards have taken for granted since, October 22nd is one of those days when everything suddenly changed and the ground rules for “possible” shifted.

The supply chain needed to power the Edison bulb, involving the generation “of” and delivery of electrical current “to,” began as well. Power Plants, ceramics factories, copper mines… the mind boggles.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few weeks ago, I got invited to tour NY Harbor with the United States Army Corps of Engineers on their annual harbor inspection, and part of the excursion explored their efforts in Jamaica Bay regarding the maintenance and outright creation of sandy barrier islands designed to provide shoreline resiliency in terms of storms, and wildlife habitat the rest of the time. While rolling through the surf, somebody riding a horse decided to let the great beast wander into the water, which I was lucky enough to get a shot of.

That’s the Belt Parkway in the background, and this had to be somewhere between Canarsie and Howard Beach.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The MTA has been quite busy recently here in Astoria on the weekends. This shot is from Steinway Street, where a bunch of construction workers have been operating some fairly esoteric kit. That’s an electrical cable playing off of the spool above, which was being drawn down into an access shaft and pulled towards a very similar truck and crew which I had spotted a few blocks south of this one. The second truck was pulling a thick yellow rope out of its shaft, so presumptively that rope was affixed to the end of the electrical cable and they were traction pulling the new electrical cable that way.

MTA has stated that there is going to be a terrific amount of this sort of work occurring on the IND lines in Western Queens to prepare for the oncoming L train shut down. If you think that is just going to be a “Brooklyn thing,” you’re wrong. They’re planning on pushing around ten thousand displaced riders through the Court Square station and need to make sure that the E and M lines don’t experience equipment related breakdowns, hence the sudden squall of weekend outages and labor both here, and further “up the stream.”


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 22, 2018 at 1:30 pm

%d bloggers like this: