The Newtown Pentacle

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sixth interest

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

More shots from the abandoned Glenwood Power Plant in New York States’ Yonkers municipality in today’s post. For details on the history of the NY Central Railroad, the power plant, etc., please refer to yesterday’s post which is chock full of links.

Very visually interesting place, which I was invited to visit by My Pal Val, who asked me to join in with a group of photographers she was organizing a visit for. We had an extremely limited amount of time at the plant, which was unfortunately in the early afternoon – the absolute worst time of day for photos (except in February).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan – thereby – was to treat the scene as I would if I was shooting there in low – or no – light conditions. To achieve this, I attached a ten stop ND filter. The tripod was deployed, but only extended up to full height a few times. Most of the time I kept it low to the ground, operating the camera through its swivel out touch screen. Depending on what I was shooting, my aperture was never lower than f8 or higher than f18. ISO ranges from 100-6400 are included in this series.

“Hey Mitch – what’s with all the talking shop these days?” “Tell me about the history of the Pulaski Bridge again.”

What can I tell you. I need to talk shop sometimes. About once every few months, I get an email from a younger photographer – college kids, mostly. They want to know how I do what I do. Sometimes they want to be introduced to the Creek, or the harbor, or whatever. A lot of times they ask me how to use their camera to get the sort of shots I routinely churn out for Newtown Pentacle and other sites.

“Show up, do the work, don’t get hurt, go home” is the first speech I offer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve got a whole other set of speeches ready for them about how to stay as safe as you can when moving around on the street, which I call “how you look to others on the street, and keep moving at all times.” There’s the whole “don’t cross industrial driveways without looking” and the “why would you stand on that slippery rock if you’ve got a zoom lens and it’s safer two feet away” which is followed by the “how, exactly, would you describe to the 911 operator where you are right now” one. They all like these speeches, I tell them well and with great flourish. I also ask them “what is it a picture of.”

I also try to pass on some of what I’ve learned about marching around NYC with a camera. Especially given the conditions in which one such as myself usually works. A lot of the craft, as I’ve purposed it, involves being hyper aware of my surroundings while allowing the camera to record the scene in some intentional manner while I keep an eye out for bad actors and danger.

Come with, the next time it’s a hundred degrees at midnight or no degrees at dawn, and join me at the Maspeth Plank Road or at Dutch Kills? I’ll tell you all about camera settings and how to get the scene, based on long experience. You’ll also possibly encounter what can only be described as “creepy ass muthaflowers.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Anyway, that’s “what” with talking about that.

As mentioned yesterday, there are two buildings at the Glenwood Power Plant that we received access to. The first one, in yesterday’s post, was the generator building. The ones in today and tomorrow’s post are from the furnace and boiler building. This was a coal fired power plant, incidentally.

As a note, there were fishies swimming around in that puddle of water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was a section of the roof which was unstable and we were gathered into a safe area beyond it for a few last shots of this section of the building.

It was time for the last leg of the excursion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking south out the boiler and furnace building’s window along the Hudson River, with Manhattan on the horizon. Just for a sense of place.

More tomorrow.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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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

September 13, 2022 at 11:00 am

ten beings

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is a former power plant, found alongside the Glenwood stop of the modern day Metro North rail service, in Yonkers – the first City that you’ll encounter when heading north out of NYC. The plant was built in 1907, when the NY Central Railroad was electrifying its system both in and into Manhattan. My pal Val had arranged for a small group of photographers to enjoy guided access to the site for a couple of hours. This building was abandoned in the early 1970’s, and has sat feral for the last fifty years or so.

This is an extremely well documented site, one which has been drawing in the “urban explorer” crowd for literally generations. Here’s a 2021 article from “Yonkers Times” discussing its current status, a Wikipedia page for “just the facts,” a 2014 NY Times report is here, and the views and plans of the current owners of the property can be examined at their website.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As a note, my methodology for this sort of excursion is often thwarted as you just have to make the best of being on what’s essentially a walking tour. There were several other people shooting at the same time, which adds challenges as you need to dodge their POV’s, and the occasional accidental swing of a tripod leg or something.

People…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are two main structures on the site, one is the building where the generator and battery rooms were housed, the other is where the coal furnaces and the boilers were located.

Our guide confirmed to me that the terra-cotta adorning the entryway into the generator building was – indeed – the product of the New York TerraCotta Works in Long Island City. Check out that old timey NY Central logo on the door lintel’s cornice piece.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The generator room is pictured above, and as you’d imagine – those graffiti covered machines soon became a focus point for every lens in the room. I’ve looked around a bit since getting back from this trip, and it’s appears to me that every photographer with an interest in post industrial ruination has accomplished something very similar to the shot and composition I took above.

Methodology wise, I like to be able to learn a bit about a site. The photos in today and tomorrow’s posts are essentially scouting. I’d like to be in here at night with an extremely diffuse set of light sources. I’d also want to be inside this room in the extremely early morning AND at dusk. Dusk and heavy fog… hey now!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, methodology wise, I’ve got a whole bag of tricks learned over the last fifteen years, along that shining ribbon of municipal neglect that provides a 3.8 miles long and currently undefended border for Brooklyn and Queens – the fabulous Newtown Creek.

My plan for these photos – which involved a one time opportunity at the subject – was to go “low and slow.” Unfortunately, neither time of day nor atmospheric humidity were on my side. An uncomfortably humid day would have created an absolutely visible miasma, but this was the day after a heat wave broke and it was unusually dry as a result.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By “low and slow” I mean that the camera was on a tripod and seldom placed any higher than waste level. I affixed an ND filter to one of my zoom lenses, and either treated the image like a “night shot” with high ISO and longish shutter speed, or went full landscape mode with a 30 second long shot. I did some “exposure stacking” for a couple of these, most successfully in the shot directly above this one. That’s three exposures, each metered for and focused onto a different part of the image. In Photoshop, you can “blend” the three images together automatically.

Like a lot of things “digital,” once you conceptualize what’s actually happening when you tell an application to do something, the process can then be taken advantage of and guided. In the case of focus and or exposure stacking, it can get pretty exciting – results wise – if it’s subtle enough.


“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

September 12, 2022 at 11:00 am

always frightened

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

More shots from an August 10th walk greet you this morning. One was heading for Dutch Kills, ultimately, but a desire to approach “the zone” from a different angle guided my steps. Specific to my intentions was the need to confirm the latest degradation of the Dutch Kills waterway due to municipal indifference was ongoing.

Streams of forced air bubbles are occurring now. Here’s a brief video of the phenomena. This is alongside the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge, nearby the southwest pier of the structure. Relevant authorities have been informed about the condition, including City and State level agencies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of the reason I chose this particular path involved the avoidance of walking in direct sunlight and growing overheated. Additionally, I didn’t fancy having the sun bobbing around directly in front of me and blowing out my eyesight. I stick to shadows when I can.

Shadows are where I belong.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a fairly serious change in altitude you’ll encounter on Hunters Point Avenue as it leads to Dutch Kills. East of Van Dam Street and leading back up to Greenpoint Avenue is built onto a hill, versus the relatively flat flood plain surrounding the water. There’s an industrial zoned series of buildings in this corridor, which includes a fantastic FDNY Fleet Services building. You’ve also got a bunch of fairly intriguing truck based businesses like Wanrong Trading Corp. – pictured above.

Traffic intensifies as you near Van Dam, which is a primary corridor between Queens Plaza/Queens Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway/Borden Avenue or the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge’s crossing into Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once you cross Van Dam Street, you’re in the Degnon Terminal. A focal point for private investment capital at the start of the 20th century, the Degnon Terminal used to be full of blue chip national level corporations until the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. In recent years, the industrial park has been rebounding.

You can still see the sky there, which has become something of a rarity in Western Queens over the last 20 years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Were I not moving out of NYC at the end of this year, I would have received my twenty year award for living in Astoria in the spring of 2023. I can tell tales of blackouts and exploding transformers, and the various waves of bad actors who suddenly appear and disappear on the streets. The homeless guys who come and go – Johnny Rottenfoot, “The Hat,” Raggedy Andy, the self replenishing corps of “Los Burrachos,” Pineapple Face, Big Head, Junkie Johnny, Homeless Melissa and her boyfriend Juan who lived in the bank’s ATM room – there have been so many who suddenly appear and then are just gone. Many have died on the street, which just sucks.

One stands out to me, an older devotee of drink, who died during the winter and was frozen to the sidewalk and wall he was sleeping on. The FDNY had to defrost him so that the morgue could remove the body.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve seen Deliverista justice administered, learned that I can sleep through an old west style shootout that occurred directly beneath my bedroom window, and learned that Astoria is one loose screw away from sliding into the East River at any given moment. We had a Cop who thought it would be a good idea to drive to work in a facsimile of the “Dukes of Hazard” General Lee car – with a confederate flag on the roof. We also had “Rape Cop” for a while, a fellow whose penalty for sexually assaulting an inebriated woman was to wear an aviation unit jumpsuit on duty. When he got out of the car, all the neighborhood kids would start chattering “yo, it’s rape cop.”

Sigh. Astoria, Queens. Long Island City, Queens. Home sweet hell.


“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

September 5, 2022 at 11:00 am

thronged through

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

July 9th saw me briefly escaping the hell of zoom meetings and other obligations which had consumed a couple of my days after the the whole rented car adventure described earlier this week.

I took a “stretch my legs” walk around the neighborhood. As always, Sunnyside Yards never disappoints.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of my path carried me through the devastated industrial zone found along Northern Blvd. and 35th and 36th avenues.

What devastated it, you ask? Innovation Queens did. The proposed “Big Real Estate” mega project’s owners have been buying up the properties here and not renewing the leases of the businesses housed therein for about ten years. This allows them to claim that it’s a blighted area, without mentioning that they’re the ones who created the blight.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Headed up by a three headed serpent, Innovation Queens would demolish a triangular section at the southern edge of Astoria which currently provides employment to hundreds, who work at jobs that pay taxes. The replacement is a series of 20 plus story luxury apartment towers, hosting about 3,000 units, which would be tax free to their owners for about 20 years due to having the bare minimum of “affordable” units within them.

The three headed serpent is: Larry Silverstein – self described best friend of Donald Trump and Governor of the Real Estate Board of New York, Bedrock Properties – an entity, whom one of the principals of recently bragged to me, wrote the affordable housing laws in the State of Connecticut (in other news, a fox recently wrote the Connecticut rules governing hen houses), and the Kaufman Astoria Group – who used to be in the movie and TV production business. Grrr.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They’ve been allowing the properties they’ve acquired to decline, putting out tenants, and looking the other way at illegal dumping in the area. They also have neglected to clean their streets, remove graffiti, or do any of the other things property owners normally do.

The Three Headed Serpent claims that the area is “dark, dangerous, and forbidding.” This section didn’t used to be any of those things, before the three headed serpent slithered into the neighborhood.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were the last ones captured before I fell into the grip of a three day long adventure involving gastro intestinal distress, and a concurrent pinched nerve in my neck which that was the result of too much bad sleep. What made it bad was the GI issues. I had one of those weird 72 hours when you’re sleeping a lot, but never more than two hours at a time.

As always is the case with such matters, you just need to wait it out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, by mid week, I was back in fine fettle and moving around the world again. Cannot tell you how many people’s days I’ve ruined since with my presence.

Back tomorrow, with something that matters and proof that somebody cares.


“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

August 11, 2022 at 11:00 am

desolate pitch

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned earlier in the week, a humble narrator was tooling around the greater metropolitan area in a rental car for a couple of days in early July, and on the 6th, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself had arranged to visit some family out on Long Island. As is our habit, we arrived early and decided to check out the beach in East Islip.

East Islip Marina Park is where we were. The skies were threatening.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lovely beach and recreation area, this park is. Other than the biting sand based insects who plague, that is.

We hung out for a bit, and I took the opportunity to crack out a few shots at the water’s edge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bands of thunderstorm were rolling through the over vault, but no rain was falling. This one is looking east along the Great South Bay of Long Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had taken a long walk along a short pier, it seems.

The alarm on my phone went off, and we headed over to my Cousin’s house for a lovely afternoon of catching up while snacking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Eventually, I had to return to Queens. I dropped Our Lady off at HQ and drove over to LaGuardia Airport to return the rental car.

Afterwards, I summoned a rideshare from the Lyft service to carry my rotting carcass home. Y’know… I’m really curious about the whole “Evacuation Center” signboard you occasionally see on MTA’s buses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While waiting for my chariot to arrive, I made it a point of grabbing a few shots of the airplanes heading down towards LaGuardia’s runways.

Back tomorrow.


“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

August 10, 2022 at 11:00 am

Posted in Long Island, Photowalks

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