The Newtown Pentacle

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outflung folds

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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.


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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

May 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

homologous member

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Tuesday!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found a humble narrator riding the NYC Ferry from Astoria to Lower Manhattan. One cannot recommend this service highly enough, and I do so loudly to all who might listen. Throughout the pandemic, the Ferry has been a pressure valve for me, allowing a quite affordable afternoon on the water. You’ve got to mask up, obviously, but there is virtually zero risk of contracting anything on the top deck of the boat, other than having an errant seagull smack into you. The boats have bathrooms in case you need to blow some ballast, but unfortunately the onboard shops which sell coffee, beer, and or snacks are still closed. No problem there, since I tend to avoid drinking and eating when I’m out and moving about, but if you can’t survive without a beverage bring it onboard with you.

The Astoria line stops at East 90th street (where you can transfer to the Soundview line and head to the Bronx), Roosevelt Island, LIC North, 34th Street in the City (where you can transfer to several other lines), Brooklyn Navy Yard, and then it’s terminal destination is at Pier 11/Wall Street in lower Manhattan. The design of the system uses Pier 11 and 34th street as “hubs” where several of the lines converge. You’ve got 90 minutes from the time you purchase a paper ticket, or activate one on their phone app (I use the app), to accomplish a transfer. I’ve made it all the way from Soundview in the South Bronx to the Rockaways on a single $2.75 ticket. That’s 3 hours on the water for under $3 – cheap!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the East River routes, you encounter the grandiose sights and scale of the greatest City in the history of civilization. I’ve offered this statement before, and have been asked “what about Rome, or Constantinople, or Persepolis, Kolkata, Beijing, Tokyo, Berlin, Buenos Aires”… the list goes on and on. Ancient Rome could tuck neatly into Staten Island, Tokyo and Los Angeles are regions, not cities, and the City which other Cities compare themselves to ain’t London or Berlin. Since the end of the Second World War, the omphalos or navel of Western Civilization has been and continues to be NYC. I don’t just mean Manhattan, as a note, I mean the whole shebang.

Pictured above is the scene encountered as the ferry leaves the Brooklyn Navy Yard, depicting the Manhattan Bridge with the financial district of Lower Manhattan behind it on a misty day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Astoria route Ferry moves up the eastern side of the East River, whereas the Soundview route takes the western channel. Astoria route allows for dynamic views of Roosevelt Island, its eponymous lift bridge, and the power generating infrastructure which stains the shorelines of Queens. The terminal stop in Astoria at the NYCHA Astoria Houses campus puts you within easy walking distance of the Welling Court street art mural installation, Astoria Park, and hundreds of truly interesting restaurants and bars. Why not come visit and spend some of that stimulus money here in Astoria? We could use the bucks.

You can access the schedules for the NYC Ferry, and check out their various destinations, at their website. This isn’t a paid post or anything, by the way, I’m just an enthusiastic customer for the service and want to encourage all of my readers here at Newtown Pentacle to take advantage of it as a curative for the pallor and malaise introduced by our recent collective trials.


“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.

perfumed jungles

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Awww, it’s only Tuesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To start – it was just weird to be out during the daylight and taking pictures while walking back from Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge about a month ago. It’s been so long that I had to constantly remind myself to check my exposure settings. The night time stuff which has been on offer for the last year, the solitude thereof having been necessitated by obvious concerns, is comparatively “one and done” in terms of exposure and ISO sensitivity due to the somewhat predictable levels of nocturnal street lighting. Sure, I have to dial the shutter speed around here and there or up the ISO sensitivity, but… it’s been a long time since I had to worry about the deep shadows and blown out highlights encountered due to the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself bobbing about in the afternoon sky.

Luckily, the Roosevelt Island Tram was still there. I plan on riding on this thing sometime this week, actually. Hope I get a chance to wipe a clean spot on its window before boarding. If you haven’t been, there’s commanding views of the Queensboro Bridge to be experienced from up there, and it’s “one of those NYC things to check off your list.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Other goals and destinations abound. I’m also planning on visiting the Empire State Building’s observation deck soon. I’m hoping they’re still offering discounts. Getting high in Manhattan is often a problem, since a) you either have to know somebody who can let you in and get you to a window, b) there’s an in person meeting happening in a cool place, or c) you have an opportunity to trespass without being jailed. Getting high refers to altitude, of course, since the other meaning of it is no longer illegal.

My goodness, I’ve actually lived long enough to see the most onerous of the Rockefeller drug laws in New York State done away with.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back at home, a couple of days later, I was lucky enough to catch the Amtrak people leaving the door to the Acela maintenance building open. As I’ve mentioned more times than I can remember, the Sunnyside Yards people have been poking new holes in their fences at a rapid pace. It seems like every day I find a new surveyor’s hole or some the after effect of some construction worker’s need to push a hose or a cable down to the rail yard.

Back tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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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

April 6, 2021 at 1:00 pm

denizens thereof

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Monday is arisen, and risible.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first two shots in today’s post were gathered during a quick visit to Astoria’s Luyster Creek, found on the forbidden northern shore of Queens. I’m told that the rotting wooden structure in the one above used to be a dock. Personally, I don’t have any reason to argue with that. As you can tell, it was low tide when I was waving the camera about and all of the exquisite petrochemical and human excrement smells normally subsumed by the waters of the East River and Bowery Bay were available for easy sniffing.

Y’know, when you’ve taken the deep dive into all of the Newtown Creek “superfun” that I have, your head gets filled up with all sorts of regulatory terms. “NAPL” is non aqueous phase liquid, for instance. “VOC’s” are volatile organic chemicals. What those five dollar terms indicate is that VOC’s – or petroleum derived products – mixing with VOC’s – basically raw sewage – is pretty bad. All this yuck settles down out of the water column and builds up a bed of sediments – called “Black Mayonnaise.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The flowing water found at the head of the canal, here at Luyster Creek, is a bit of mystery. I’ve asked my pals at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation if they have any clue as to where this water is coming from. The theory is that it’s a natural spring being fed by “pore” or ground water, but that’s their best guess. The 20th century did a real job to the forbidden northern shore of Queens.

I’ve added Luyster Creek to my list of waterways, by the way. A group of us are going to head out here this weekend to do a shoreline cleanup, hopefully the first of many such endeavors. The good news is that some of my friends who work for the City are going to help out by letting us dispose of the collected trash in their bins.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Seriously, I haven’t been in Manhattan more than once or twice in the last year. This shot was collected when I was walking home from getting my first vaccination shot at a hospital on the Upper East Side. What a pleasure it was, I tell you, to walk home on a pleasantly warm day and catch that unoccluded East River afternoon sunshine. Sure, you have to dodge out of the way of people riding motorcycles in the bike lanes, which the bicycle people will tell me I’m imagining.

I’m a fan of the bike people’s push to turn the north side of Queensboro’s lower level current ped/bike lane into purely bike, while dedicating the south path for purely pedestrian access. Did you know that the south side lower level roadway used to be a trolley route? The streetcars would exit from the bridge and proceed up Northern Blvd. all the way to Woodside Avenue.


“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 5, 2021 at 11:00 am

neglected orchard

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Terror and habitual anxiety color my days, so the best time to just “do me” seems to be at night. Believe it or not, the spaces pictured in today’s post were once analogous to the modern day Hamptons, and the golden coast of northern Long Island City – basically between Anable Basin and Hallets Cove – was replete with the grandiose mansions and walled gardens of New York’s elite social and financial upper classes. Several of these conspicuous mansions were converted to charitable institutions after the mercantile families moved North, West, or East, or when they degenerated into common rabble as their fortunes faltered. The old manor houses and mansions became orphanages, homes for the insane, and asylums for fallen women (which is what they used to call “Sex Workers” in the late 18th and most of the 19th century, for those of you in the “woke” crowd). 1909 is the year that Queensboro opened for business, and that was just ten years after Queens itself was fashioned by Manhattan’s ready political hands. Then, as now, riverfront property is quite valuable. Prime industrial land was being “wasted” on the indigent and immoral, so these mansions became quite prone to grisly total loss fires. “Can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs” as the saying goes.

Nomenclature from the time, specifically the late 19th century, including referring to homeless children as “street arabs.” Life was cheap and short then, as it is now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For once, my timing was impeccable. Arriving at this particular spot just as a passing subway train was climbing out of its tunnel hole and towards the elevated station, I got to crack out a few shots as it’s wheels and third rail shoe were creating flashes of electric arc light. You have to be a bit careful in this particular area under Queensboro, due to the plague of vampires that hide amongst the bridge’s nest of steel girders and structural supports.

You don’t find the undead – or Vampires, at least – East or North of 31st and Northern Blvd., probably due to underground streams of flowing water, and certain magical arts carried into Astoria by Coptic and Orthodox Monastics who carried it from their ancient homelands in Egypt and Greece. These protective charms would be decried as Wizardry were they not so old and enshrined, and were known in both Constantinople and Alexandria long before the arrival of the Turk.

They’ve always had a Vampire problem in Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Peasant superstitions notwithstanding, one of the truly wasted spaces in NYC is found at the western edge of Queens Plaza, under the Vampire colony. The arched vaults of Lindenthal’s cathedral of steel and utility are used to store municipal junk, NYC’s municipal fleet vehicles, and unknown items wrapped in fluttering tarps. Why wouldn’t you surround an architectural and civil engineering masterpiece with razor wire and use it as a parking lot?

Perhaps it’s because…

Vampires?

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, February 22nd. 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

February 26, 2021 at 11:00 am

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