The Newtown Pentacle

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held transient

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Friday is frizzled, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another set of Sunnyside Yards shots are on offer today, with the one above depicting the Acela maintenance operation on the north side of the gargantuan rail coach yard here in Long Island City. It’s also right about at this point in time, roughly a month ago on March 15th, that I was able to begin saying that I knew how to handle the new camera and lenses properly and predictably. What I mean by that, is that I was able to spot a scene and say “hey, switch to the 85mm for this one, using x aperture and y iso” without a trial and error phase baked into the process. Funnily enough, since I’ve been moving around in daylight again, it’s been something of a challenge to shoot when the “lights” are on, burning thermonuclear eye of god wise.

Hey, I carried the old camera (technically there were two, since one got smashed, but same model) for around ten years and it had become an extension of my arm in many ways. Didn’t even have to think about the technical side of things, since while shooting all those dials and buttons were being whirred and clicked on muscle memory. One fo the challenges of the new device has actually been teaching my fingers where the buttons and dials are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has not had a terrific amount of fun this last week due to inclement clime, personal obligation, and official business. I found out several disconcerting things this past week that revolve around Newtown Creek, but the good news is that I was able to help organize a cleanup effort at the 19th Avenue street end in Astoria, at Luyster Creek. Great bunch of neighbors showed up, and got sweaty. The NYC DEP sent us a dumpster to collect up the garbage peeled off the shoreline, which was awesome.

This is the way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite my obstacles and obligations, I still found myself standing in three of the five boroughs, which is more travel than I can describe for the last year. Looks like next week is going to involve an apocalypse of Zoom meetings. I just got renewed for another two years on the Community Board here in Astoria so there’s a long swearing in ceremony I need to virtually attend, followed by an actual CB1 meeting on Tuesday, followed by a Newtown Creek CAG meeting on… it really doesn’t ever seem to end.

Three Zoom meetings in a row are a holocaust, 4 or more are an apocalypse. A few weeks ago, I had to be in two Zoom meetings simultaneously. Whiskey was required afterwards.

Every single one of these Zoom’s feels like my soul is being run through a delicatessen meat slicer and a centimeter of my identity is being removed. Get vaxxed, lords and ladies, so we can annoy each other in person again.


“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 16, 2021 at 2:00 pm

blasphemous daring

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Friday is back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I’m heading out in the direction of Newtown Creek or industrial LIC, the only way to “there from here” involves me crossing the truss bridges carrying local street traffic over the Sunnyside Yards. Hence, I’ve developed an appreciation and fascination for the place over the years. You commonly see the rolling stock of three different rail companies here – Amtrak (pictured above and below), New Jersey Transit, and Long Island Rail Road. The northern side of Sunnyside Yards is filled almost entirely with Amtrak related trains and maintenance buildings, whereas the southern boundary sees a lot of LIRR activity.

During the last year, a multitude of East Side Access construction related holes have appeared in the fencing of the yards, which has been awesome.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I have friends who describe their favorite hobby as “railfanning,” meaning that they are fans of rail. I’d describe myself as a fan, but I’m nowhere near as serious as railfans are. A railfan will tell you that the train is using the wrong screw to hold its headlight on, and is possessed of a deep and insightful narrative regarding the various modern rail operations and the historical forebears which laid down the systems that today’s outfits use. Pennsylvania Railroad, NY Central, etc. I can talk history on this topic, but it’s broad stroke. A railfan gets granular.

As a note, the truss bridge you see in the background of the shot above is 39th street, which is where the first shot was gathered from. I was clicking the shutter on the Honeywell Street Truss Bridge for this and the one below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m actually pretty happy with this one, depicting a LIRR train moving through the Harold Interlocking, right in front of the Harold tower. I’ve taken a million shots of this action from the 39th street truss at a fence hole which I call the “old reliable,” but a brand new fence hole which appeared in just the last few months has materialized at Honeywell. The tracks in the trench at center left are part of the massive East Side Access project, I’m told.

Back Monday with more wonders, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 9, 2021 at 11:00 am

last void

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A nightmare to some, Shabbos to others, Friday has come.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yup, fence holes day! As mentioned last week, several new apertures in the fence lines around Sunnyside Yards have appeared during the Annum Pandemicum and a humble narrator has been assiduously cataloguing and exploiting them. Pictured above is a Long Island Railroad trainset heading towards Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another Long Island Railroad train, this one heading away from an accursed island called Manhattan, and photographed from a fence hole I call “the old reliable.” Truth be told, the old reliable almost caused a case of frostbite for me when shooting this. There was a steady 10-15 mph wind, and given that the old reliable is a 3 inch square hole found in the middle of a large steel plate, all that wind pressure was focusing through it like a laser.

Good news is that all that air pressure really cleaned up the lens, blowing any and all dust off the glass. Multi task, motherflowers, multi task.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Sunnyside Yards; you will commonly see Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit, and as pictured above – Amtrak rolling stock. Amtrak has their Acela high speed service here too, but the fence holes surrounding that service’s facilities are difficult to work with. One can hope that somewhere down the line they’ll need to pop a hole in one of the fences and… what dreams may come, huh?

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, March 15th. 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

March 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

close correspondence

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As has often been asserted, illegal dumping is the unofficial art form of the Borough of Queens. Nowhere else, even in that runner-up section of Brooklyn which the children call Greenpoint, do you see the careful attention to arranging your junk so carefully. Composition is the difference between the amateur and professional leagues in most of the visual arts, and if one considers the sculptural qualities of these ad hoc installations… the mind boggles at the implication. One should spend a moment contemplating their navel – the omphalos of their very soul – right here.

Really, this is a growing problem, and 11 months into the Corona Pandemic a humble narrator can report that there’s observably a LOT more illegal dumping going on. Good news is that the art galleries of Manhattan haven’t figured out a way to charge you admission for this sort of thing yet, so get out there and look for a stack of tires.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m quite fond of this Sunnyside Yards/Amtrak shot. I’m also fond of the official at Amtrak responsible for poking holes in the Yard’s fences just big enough for me to maneuver a camera lens next to. It’s also the first shot I made a 35mm lens I picked up that made me say “huh.” The new camera I’ve mentioned a few times in the last month has been quite busy as I’ve been teaching myself how to use it. There’s a few things – like the fold out touch screen, for instance – that I’ve had to keep on reminding myself to use and that “I can do now.” That touch screen is how I was able to shoot through a fence hole that was maybe 3/4 of an inch square, and in a spot I’ve never been able to get a composed shot through before. The 35mm also easily sees through the diamond shaped apertures of standard chain link fencing.

I’ve also solved an annoying photoshop problem which was plaguing me a month or two back – a distracting cross hatch pattern manifesting in low pixel density parts of photos, specifically skies and water. Turns out that modern adobe camera raw has a weird default which turns off a certain form of “luminance noise” suppression. Suppression of noise used to be a default, but somebody at adobe decided to give you granular control over it with three sliders and set the default state on all three to zero. Sigh.

Y’know, I literally installed photoshop off of 16 floppy disks onto a Mac at my first advertising gig as “Stat Boy.” It wasn’t Photoshop with any numbers or letters after that, just Photoshop. I’m old. Kids these days… changing things for no reason so they can tell their bosses that they fixed something.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Project Firebox. Remember when I used to do that, and there was a sixth post every week at Newtown Pentacle? Wow, those were the days, huh? Seriously, this project spun wildly out of control for me, and I found myself weeping while wandering through the City for miles and miles looking for fireboxes I hadn’t shot yet. Also, there’s only so many portrait shots you can do of fireboxes. Saying that…

Project Firebox is low key underway again, and we’ll be checking in on a few old friends to see how they’ve been weathering the storms of time.

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 1st. 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 2, 2021 at 11:00 am

copious seepage

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent wanderings, as mentioned earlier in the week, have seen me sticking fairly close to HQ due to the cold. Luckily, I happen to live within walking distance of some visually interesting sections of Long Island City such as the Sunnyside Yards, a portion of which is pictured above. Those are Amtrak train sets, overnighting in Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m a big fan of whomsoever it is at Amtrak who is responsible for poking holes in their fences. I’m an even bigger fan of whomsoever it is at Canon who has been designing lens with a smaller than usual lens element which I can fit into those pokey holes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another thing I’ve become a fan of are the few remaining gas stations in Western Queens, islands of saturated color and cold light shining in the night.

More wandering, in tomorrow’s post, 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 25th. 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 27, 2021 at 2:00 pm

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