The Newtown Pentacle

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atomic weight

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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

stolen fearfully

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An Astoria Wednesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m told that the construction chaos encountered at the corners surrounding the intersection of Astoria Boulevard and 31st street will be over soon, so one decided to pop over there the other night to get a few shots. This construction revolves around the renovations of the elevated subway station above, and the installation of elevators which connect to the subway station platform.

This is – perhaps – one of the most pedestrian unfriendly spots in all of Queens, and that’s saying something. I’ve always pointed a finger at the confluence of Northern and Astoria Blvd.’s over in Flushing as being one of the spots where you’d suddenly find yourself walking on the shoulder of a highway off ramp, but wow – do I hate crossing the street here. Especially so while wearing a pandemic mask that causes my glasses to fog up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Local traffic off ramps from the Triborough Bridge feed a never ending flow of automobiles and trucks onto Hoyt Avenue, which proceeds to feed east bound traffic onto Astoria Blvd. Support columns for the elevated tracks above provide a series of obstacles for driver and pedestrian alike. There’s a lot of light bouncing around under the elevated – vehicular headlights, traffic signals, street lighting – all competing for your attention as try to negotiate the less than obvious pathways you’re meant to walk through. Luckily, most of the traffic coming off of Triborough seems to be flowing onto the ramps leading down to the Grand Central Parkway trench which divides Astoria into two neighborhoods.

I wasn’t planning on doing some epic analysis on this particular evening, rather I was heading towards the Hell Gate section of the East River and mighty Triborough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned above, I’ve been told that the MTA construction project is about to start winding down, but I’m ignorant as to that timeline. One positive thing about all of these lovely barriers and scaffolding is that it provides a vouchsafe pedestrian space down here where you are securely isolated from traffic. There’s also a lot of primary colors from the hot side of the color wheel, so it makes for nice photos.

Tomorrow, what I saw in the wind and cold at Hells Gate.

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 4, 2020 at 1:00 pm

unpremeditated specimens

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Friday is Shabbos, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A last look from a recent trip to Randalls/Wards Island, which looks like the future but it’s an 80 years old version of future here in the House of Moses. Another cool thing about Randalls/Wards is the presence of the inspiration for Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum in the Batman universe. There’s also a sewer plant, the Fire Dept. Academy, all sorts of Cop infrastructure… the City keeps a lot of its toys here.

As mentioned, this day trip was a bit of a scouting expedition for my pal Val and I, looking everywhere and anywhere for interesting photographic opportunity.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I couldn’t stop shooting the whole time I was there. Pretty much everywhere I looked, there was an interesting point of view. Our trip to the island occurred in the late afternoon and early evening, next time I come here I hope to do so in the morning to see what that looks like.

I am definitely coming back here, and next time I’m thinking about coming out on foot via the pedestrian approach on mighty Triborough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of, me and my pal Val piled into her car and we headed back to the blessed shores of the ancient village of Astoria. She forked over a bunch of bucks in tolls crossing to and from on Mighty Triborough so to recompense a plate of food was bought for her at one of the neighborhood’s new out door dining piazzas.

I treated myself to a burger and a couple cups of Guinness, thereby calorically undoing whatever benefit the days exercise would have brought.

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, July 20th. 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

July 24, 2020 at 11:00 am

adroitly pumped

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Wednesday has happened again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Still on Randalls/Wards Island, but looking wistfully towards Astoria Park and Queens whilst under the Triborough Bridge, imagine my joy at the sudden arrival of an NYPD Harbor Unit vessel which pushed through the scene. There’s a base and berth for the gendarmes on the Harlem River side of the island, but I don’t know if that’s where they coming from or going to.

One refuses to use the secondary name for Triborough Bridge, or for the Queensboro, until they rename the Brooklyn Bridge as the Michael Bloomberg Bridge. Sounds crazy, huh? Renaming Mighty Triborough or the majestic Queensboro after other politicians doesn’t? No respect, I tell ya, no respect.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s no possibility that something like what you see above can cross in front of my lens with me not being drawn to capture it. I’ve talked about this many times during tours conducted on the Soundview Ferry line, but Triborough is one of the great historical feats of civil engineering and industrial power. There’s a theory which postulates that this bridge is the reason that WW2 went as well as it did for the United States, offering that the Triborough operations orders for steel alone restarted that entire sector of the American economy during the darkest years of the Great Depression. Factor in the labor, the concrete, the forest of wood needed for scaffolds…

That’s something to consider, while looking forward at the next few years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Randalls/Wards Island offers an up close and personal look at another one of NYC’s wonders, the Hells Gate Bridge. Carrying railroad tracks rather than vehicle lanes, as Triborough does, this arch bridge is thought to be the most permanent structure in the entire city. Supposedly, long after the Empire State Building has collapsed and the other East River bridges have been reduced down to masonry piers with no span between them, the Hells Gate will still be more or less intact.

In the foot steps of giants we do walk.

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, July 20th. 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.

ill concealed

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Let there be light, it’s Monday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Careful negotiations, about wearing a mask and the other hygienic issues faced during the age of cooties we’re all living through having been arrived at, last week I hung out with a photographer buddy of mine who drives everywhere she goes. Picked up, a humble narrator suggested we visit Randalls and Wards Island, so over mighty Triborough did we fly.

I’ve been telling anyone who will listen, literally for years now, that the next round of NYC Ferry stops should include Randalls/Wards. It’s actually goofy how many hurdles there are to getting to this scenic complex of parks without a car. This was, of course, Robert Moses’s base of operation, the very center of the fabled “House of Moses” where the Power Broker himself spent his days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is literally the first time I’ve left “the zone” in – as of today – 141 days. The zone is walking distance from HQ in Astoria, which has included all of Newtown Creek. Faulty logic on my part says that Randalls/Wards are further, there is a pedestrian pathway here from Astoria after all, but for whatever reason I’ve never walked it.

As a matter of fact, I’ve only been on the ground at Randalls/Wards once. I’ve driven over it a bunch of times, of course, but have never come here with a camera and the intent of taking a bunch of photos. I’m happy to say that this effort was very much worth the trip, and I intend on coming back for more and soon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Consider the ones above, and the shots that will be following them this week, as being part of a scouting mission. I was in “hey, look at that” mode the whole time.

The one time I had come to Randalls/Wards in the past? The NYC DEP has a water treatment and sludge dewatering facility here, and I was invited to attend the christening and launch of their three new sludge boats along its bulkheads. Sludge Boat, you ask? Christening, you say? Sludge Boat, baby, Sludge Boat.

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, July 20th. 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

July 20, 2020 at 11:00 am

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