The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘East River’ Category

outflung folds

with one comment

Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, what happens when you use a lens designed for “crop sensors” on a “full frame” mirrorless camera? As I discovered, vignetting! Also, I can set my camera to think it’s a crop sensor, which produces a RAW format file that is cropped accordingly. What photoshop shows me however, is a full frame image with a vector crop mask applied to it. The rest of the image is still captured even if I tell the camera to do a square format, so, thought I – why throw away all those pixels?

You’re actually seeing the inside of the lens in the shots above and below, and that’s what’s causing the black circular edges to manifest. I’m thinking that if I made these high contrast and grain black and white, it would create something that looks like it came from an old timey box film camera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now that I’ve returned to the daylight, which has had the unfortunate consequence of shocking the general public due to my countenance, I’ve finally been able to start “straight up playing” with the new camera. Finally got to test out and figure the nuances of its sophisticated face and eye tracking autofocus system, screw around with shots like the one above just to see what would happen, and have gotten to know the thing in other capacities than the extremely capable low light shooter that it is.

Saying that, the small collection of lenses which are “native” to this particular camera mount (RF) which I’ve got in my bag are amazingly capable devices. Get a cheap camera and an expensive lens is the logic many will offer you. I say get the lens you need, not the one you want. There’s definitely a lens I want, but it’s price tag is equivalent to that of a decent used car. I’m buying the car first, if I’ve got any cash left over I’ll think about the lens. Besides, with a car I don’t need that long a telephoto option, since I I can get closer to things quicker.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is from one of the native lens, an f 1.8 35mm prime lens. Prime means it doesn’t zoom. It’s actually shot wide open, as in at f 1.8 which is a wide aperture for this sort of shot. Another experiment.

I’ve actually come round the bend on this camera, and am rereading the instruction manual in order not to miss out on some of the deeper nuances of the device. I still haven’t shot a single frame of video with it. Imagine that.


“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

May 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

more hexagonal

with 3 comments

Thursday is gristle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described previously, a humble narrator decided to inspect the Triborough Bridge’s rather well used bike and pedestrian path recently. It’s illegal to take photos up there, as I discovered post facto. When an Government Agency doesn’t want you taking photos somewhere, there’s usually a reason. The reason they give will involve the words “security” and or “terrorism,” whereas the words I’d offer include “corruption, incompetence, or malfeasance.”

So, who uses this pathway? Observationally, a lot of bike riders and pedestrians. What they encounter is an (incredibly) unlit and narrow space with stair cases that just sort of appear in front of you without warning.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bike rider approaching my position above is also breaking the law, since the MTA Bridges and Tunnels operation instructs that riders on the bike path MUST dismount and walk their bikes. Quite obviously, this isn’t something that happens too often. I saw people riding on electric skateboards and scooters as well.

I’m actually planning on how and with whom I’m going to deal with on this subject. It makes me angry, especially so because Triborough is a toll bridge and fairly flush with maintenance budget cash, unlike the NYC DOT bridges like Queensboro or Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, just as I git to one of the fairly steep stairs, a couple of riders with profoundly bright LED bike lights appeared. Their colorful light helped paint the picture, as it were, of what’s happening up here. Literally the only light other than automotive headlights was being pumped out by these two bikes. Luckily, I always carry a pocket flashlight, but sheesh.

Something different tomorrow, and this won’t be the last time you hear about this particular situation.


“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 15, 2021 at 1:00 pm

sentiently over

with 2 comments

Wednesdays just drizzle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, these photos are criminal in nature. Post 911, a lot of NYC became “no photo” zones. The press photographer’s association actually sued the MTA to guarantee the right to take photos in the subways, and as far as the East River and Hudson bridges go – they’re largely owned by three entities – Port Authority, NYC DOT, and MTA Bridges and Tunnels. PA and DOT were out of the banning photography business by 2008 or so, although you still encounter the odd Cop or Security Guard who’d aggressively inquire “why are you taking pictures”?

MTA, on the other hand never explicitly banned photography, instead they invoke some obscure “NY State Authorities” rule which offers the opinion that facilities like the Triborough Bridge are a) private property, b) that whether you’re on the thing or even around them you must follow all instructions on posted signs – even if the sign is missing or you’re not on “their” property. Technically speaking, everybody who’s taken a photo in Astoria Park of a kid’s birthday party which the Triborough is in the background of is a potential member of Al Quaeda to MTA. Remember them? Haven’t thought about Al Quaeda in years. Who’s the enemy nowadays?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, to my point of view, if the Government – and specifically the political patronage mill section of it called the MTA – doesn’t want you to take pictures of something, that’s precisely what you should be taking pictures of. To wit, you’re looking at the unlit and unmarked pedestrian/bike path of the Triborough above.

In some ways I was kind of hoping a cop would show up and ticket me for this, as I’d make a whole megillah out of it. Glad one didn’t, but if photography is such a burning security issue here where were the MTA cops? One way or another, I’m going to start talking about this with the people who sign MTA’s checks soon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There isn’t a splash of glitter paint anywhere near the unlit stairwells which just appear in front of you in the dark. The path is set in such a manner that the headlights of oncoming bridge traffic are at eye level while you’re walking in deep shadow. There’s zero path lighting – a string of xmas LED lights secured to the deck would vastly improve things. Then there’s the section over the East River where the “Suicide Fencing” stops and you’re suddenly experiencing a waist high rail as the only thing standing between you and a 105 foot drop to the waters of Hells Gate…

Yeah, I bet there’s a bunch of reason they don’t want cameras up here.


“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 14, 2021 at 1:30 pm

hypnotic fumes

leave a comment »

Monday is Monday, whatever year it is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that getting a few shots of the Superfund related dredging being conducted down at the Gowanus Canal in in South Brooklyn might come in handy down the line for my beloved Newtown Creek. Accordingly, I decided to head over to the Red Hook/Sunset Park area. Normally, I’d just hop on the Subway, but… y’know… plague times, so I took the NYC Ferry instead as I’d be able to hang out on the top deck in the open air rather than sitting on the thermos bottle like G train for an hour. My plan was valid, but the day I chose to go ended up being an incredibly cold one.

I spent the prior evening packing my camera bag, and laying out warm clothes. Slept on the couch so as to not terrify Our Lady of the Pentacle when my alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning. One woke, inhaled a bunch of coffee and a couple of glasses of water, then bathed and dressed. Left HQ at about 5:30, when it was still dark, and got an egg sandwich at the local bagel shop to provide fuel for the mission. Walked over to the East River, and boarded a southbound ferry as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself rose in the eastern sky. Luckily, my forethought and preparation involved a secondary layer of thermal underwear, as it was bitterly cold out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC Ferry offers a free transfer within 90 minutes of activating (via the app) or buying your ticket. The service allows you to jump from one line to another at several locations, notably the 34th street and Pier 11 stops on the Manhattan side act as hubs where multiple ferry lines meet. I rode the Astoria line boat to Pier 11/Wall Street in lower Manhattan’s financial district and then transferred onto the South Brooklyn service. South Brooklyn Ferry now has a stop inside of Atlantic Basin, which is meant to serve the Red Hook neighborhood. In retrospect, I should have debarked there, but instead I went to the Brooklyn Army Terminal stop about a mile or so south.

Hey, I got up at 4:30 in the morning for this, you think I’m not going to walk through Industry City when I’m in the neighborhood? Sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ultimate goal was to get to the Gowanus Canal about 10 a.m., which is when my sources inside the Federal Superfund Operation told me that I’d most reliably see dredging operations at work. Thing is, it’s been so long since I’ve been out with the camera during daylight hours that I decided on making this one of my “adventures.”

Adventure and excitement are things which a Jedi does not crave, of course, but I am no Jedi. There are so many experiences which I was forced to leave on the table in 2020 due to the Pandemic that the notion of having an interesting day was just too much for me to pass up. More tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

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 4th. 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 4, 2021 at 1:00 pm

atomic weight

leave a comment »

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

%d bloggers like this: