The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Astoria

common sheet

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Archive, again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I still haven’t produced any images worth showing to you in the last few days, today is another post pulling photos from the Newtown Pentacle archives. Luckily, over the years, I’ve been able to put the camera in front of some pretty cool stuff. Pictured above is the Kirby Moran tugboat, navigating through Newark Bay, with the Bayonne Bridge in the background. This was shot while onboard a Working Harbor Committee trip. WHC is a Manhattan based non profit, dedicated to educating the public about the harbor of New York and New Jersey, and one which I’ve worked with for more than a decade as official photographer and occasional tour guide.

I fear that there won’t be any boat excursions in the cards for me this year, which would and will be sorely missed. Being out on the water is a big part of my life during the warm weather months. Honestly, I do not know what I’m going to do with myself on Tuesday or Thursday nights in July and August.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a New York & Atlantic train in the shot above, captured on a Waste Management campus in East Williamsburg last year. I got to ride on the train, and had unusual levels of access to the folks who own and operate the freight service the day this shot was captured. I also got a cool baseball hat with their logo on it which I wear all the time now. NY&A operates mainly on Long Island Railroad’s rights of way, and handle LIRR’S freight duties for Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties. Just behind the train is a fence, and just behind the fence is the English Kills tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek.

The context of why I was able to shoot this train, and enjoy access to the site, was due to an invite by the North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce offered to myself and several other members of Newtown Creek Alliance – a Brooklyn based non profit dedicated to reveal, restore, and revitalize Newtown Creek. I’ve been NCA’s historian and general tour guide for more than a decade as well, and I’m also a member of the board of directors for the organization.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I see a lot of cool cars when I’m wandering around Brooklyn and Queens, including this cherry Ford Mustang all done up with racing stripes. This particular auto was encountered on the Astoria side of Northern Blvd., which happens to sit within the jurisdiction of Queens Community Board 1, a Governmental body which I was sworn into and joined last year.

I’m currently a member of the Transportation and Environmental Committees, but have made it a point to attend a meeting of every committee CB1 has in order to understand the structure of the organization. The only ones I haven’t attended so far are Public Safety and Health. Saying that, I occasionally sit in on the 114th pct.’s community council meetings.

I’ll definitely be getting out in the dead of night this weekend, wandering through the plagued streets, and gathering some new images for next week. See you then, 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, May 11th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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.

unknown spheres

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Archive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shouldn’t have spoken so soon about wandering around with the camera the other night, as one ended up drinking a bit too much wine and went to bed early instead. Accordingly, a few shots from the Newtown Pentacle archives are on offer today. I did go for a short walk last night, but didn’t do too much shooting.

That’s a bee that was having itself a sunflower party in Astoria on a warm summer day a few years ago when I encountered it, one of the many hundreds of visually interesting things you might encounter here in the ancient village. Astoria is quite buzzy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A different day, while walking home from somewhere, I encountered a chicken corpse lying in the gutter. Did this chicken lead a dissolute life? Was this chicken a dick? Was it merely an escapee from one fo the local “Pollo Vivo” abattoirs? Did it not pay its debts? Who can guess?

Lots of mysteries here in Astoria, can’t begin to solve them all. I’m told by the local gendarmes that at least once a week somebody flips their car over within the confines of the 114th pct. Further, as I did inquire, it’s not the same person who is flipping their car over and over. Instead it’s a heterogenous population of lousy drivers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I like riding the Staten Island Ferry. One of the things which a humble narrator enjoys during these intervals on the big orange boat are the acrobatics of the seabirds which take advantage of its slipstream for a free ride between Manhattan and… Staten Island. Hitch hikers.

That’s some kind of gull pictured above, but one is always more than hesitant to offer speciation or classification for the avians. I will invariably get it wrong, which then invalidates every other statement I’ve ever made. Thereupon, I will be strung up and pilloried. There is no in between.

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, May 11th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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

May 14, 2020 at 11:00 am

head shakings

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Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned several times during the CoronAstoria period, one is trying to maintain an every other day schedule for constitutional photo walks. I leave HQ late, and well after dark when the rest of you are already snug in your bunkers. Let’s call the nights out “even” days, and the odd ones are when I’m in my personal bunker. Finding a way to whittle away the endless hours has been an occupation for me, one which I’ve been using to sharpen up some of my skills in the controlled environment of home base.

To wit, the shot above depicting a bodega directly across the street from HQ here in Astoria, is a composite of about 9 different images. All were shot “wide open” at f 1.8, using one of my “good lenses,” and “focus stacked.” What makes it different from other iterations of what must be a very familiar scene to long time readers, is that this time around I changed the exposure values of the individual images to try and get a rounder capture of the very bright and very dark aspects of the scene. It’s not an “HDR” shot, however. I did execute an HDR version of it for comparison, if you’re curious as to the difference. I prefer the one embedded above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the ways I’m spending my time involves voracious consumption of technique videos on YouTube’s various photography channels. Most of what you find on there is either aimed at beginners or novice photographers, but there’s actually a lot of interesting stuff to watch wherein you can pick up some tricks to up your game.

I’ve become a fan of British Landscape Photographer Thomas Heaton, for instance. Heaton is pals with a Pacific Northwest Landscape Photographer by the name of Nick Page, who also offers videos that are a bit more technical and also offers insights into digital darkroom methodology. I look forward to both arriving in my inbox. If you’re just starting out, or at an intermediate skill level behind the camera, Brenda Petrella’s Outdoor Photography School is a fantastic place to learn some new skills, and Brenda is pretty great behind the lens as well. Subscribe to any of their channels and YouTube’s algorithm will start recommending videos of similar ilk to you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I’m hurting a little bit right now for fresh images due to the nasty weather we’ve recently experienced. All that rain upended my odd and even schedule. If everything went to plan, I was out last night wandering around some industrial zone and will be developing the shots gathered as you are reading this post.

Exciting, isn’t it?

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, May 11th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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

May 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

tool satchel

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Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

FDNY Battalion 49 was established in 1928, are known colloquially as the Hellgate Firefighters, and the unit is housed on the northern side of Astoria over on 35th street. The assigned units are Ladder 163 and Engine 312, and the latter is pictured above as it was screaming down Steinway Street toward Broadway the other night. A few blocks to the East, a couple of other fire units were hurtling out onto Broadway and executing a left hand turn, lights and sirens on, and all of this FDNY capability was heading in the direction of the Woodside Houses NYCHA campus. Not sure what was going on, but they were in an awful hurry to get somewhere.

Firemen, firemen.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has had an awful time trying to get out and about in the last week, what with all the rain and the sudden return to colder climes. Additionally, I’ve been struggling a bit with my mood, which has been generally sour. It has finally set in that the likelihood of conducting any of the walking or boat tours that I normally offer during the warm weather months, or collecting the significant percentile of my annual income which is derived from such activities, will be impossible while COVID 19 is still rampant. I’ve been holding off on producing virtual tours, but it looks like that’s going to be the only option as far as keeping Zuzu the dog well stocked with milk bones.

Additionally, I kind of miss riding the subway, which is something I never thought I’d say. Well, technically, I wrote that statement and didn’t say it out loud… but, you get my gist. Evolve or die, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing proof of my theory that the NYPD owns at least one vehicle of every type which has ever been manufactured was encountered recently nearby a training facility which the gendarmes have set up for their K-9 unit. On Northern Blvd. at Honeywell Street, you’ll notice tall green fences with concrete barriers set around them. The fences are adorned with admonitions warning passerby not to attempt entry to the gated lot as there are Police Dogs within. Occasionally, you will be barked at while walking past the fence, which hides a few buildings and is surrounded by a variety of parked police vehicles whose markings indicate that they belong to either training or transit division personnel (presumptively, one of those is what “TD” stands for) or are specific to the K-9 unit and it’s special needs. A few of the SUV type cop cars had decal lettering on their windows advising caution as to the presence of interior dogs.

What that truck pictured above looks like to me is a “kennel carrier,” and it’s designated as being TCU 7017. TCU 7018 was parked right behind it.

Now, about that Dermot Shea action figure…

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, May 11th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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

May 11, 2020 at 11:00 am

chill wind

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Floop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is an often photographed and displayed Bodega here in Astoria, found across the street from my house, and the image is simply a “wide open” f1.8 test of a new lens I found myself having to purchase last week. My old “nifty fifty” is so full of dust, and has grown rather “cranky” after more than a decade of use that I needed to replace it. It seems that Canon has redesigned the thing since the iteration I’ve been carrying was issued, and I can report that they have improved it in several ways. Luckily, this is another one of the “cheap” lenses, so it didn’t eat up too much of that stimulus check I received. A Christmas present I received from a friend last year was a Yongnuo knockoff version of the original Canon lens formula, but it suffers from a series of defects in terms of chromatic aberration and missed autofocus which I cannot describe as being “charming” or “uniquely characteristic.”

One of the challenges I’ve set for myself is to see how many photos I can acquire without leaving the house, here in CoronAstoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bird on a wire? I’m told that what you’re looking at is a Morning Dove, which is a cousin to the more common Pigeon. What I can tell you, given my legendarily bad skills in describing the Ornithological sphere, is that when this particularly skittish bird gets excited and flies around it makes a sort of squeaking sound. I’ve been trying to catch a shot of a hawk which has been patrolling the neighborhood in recent weeks, but haven’t been able to make that happen. I really don’t know where the wildlife photographers of the world find their patience. A humble narrator gets bored easily.

I sing rhyming nonsense songs to Zuzu the dog all the time, and am almost ready to unveil a Broadway show worth of tunes with lyrics like “yellow sigma three, that’s what dogs say, dee dee dee dee.” I’ve also got a novella I’m working on with the dog which I call “Flippity Floppity Floop, it’s a lot of good to gloop.” You have to find ways to fill the time you’d normally be spending out there in the big old world.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My next door neighbor is a shut in, seems to own a couple of dozen cats, and has a plugged up drain on her roof. Additionally, the owner of the building next door to hers has been allowing his yard to go feral for several years – hence the dead tree slipped over her roofline. That’s the circumstance, but… you guessed it, more experimentation with esoteric camera technique is on display.

There are actually two shots combined into one up there. Both were shot with a wide open aperture of f1.8, and I used a technique which is common in macro photography to get it sharp throughout called “focus stacking” to combine them. The wide open aperture of f1.8 allows a low iso to be used, and also promulgates a quality of light capture which I find pleasing. Problem is that a wide aperture like f1.8 produces a narrow depth of field which is most easily explained as “if you focus on the eyes, the tip of the nose and the ears are blurry.” Stacking allows you too work around that.

Back tomorrow with something different, 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, May 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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

May 5, 2020 at 12:00 pm

time subsided

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Well, still here…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week’s schedule of rain put a real crimp in a humble narrator’s wanderings, and the end of the week warmup here in Astoria was accompanied by an explosion of people getting out and about, which was followed by a ludicrous amount of NYPD activity… so advantage was not taken of Saturday evening as I decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Apparently, two morons over by the nearby Woodside NYCHA campus decided to settle scores and shoot each other on Saturday night, which were Chief amongst the logical decisions made by the community at large. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to be in a hospital right now?

NYPD was seemingly busier last Saturday than they’ve been in a couple of months, and one observed the neighborhood manifesting its particular annoyances as if there wasn’t a plague. Observed: Curbside liaisons for amorous adolescents, sidewalk somnambulism for the liquor enthusiasts, the revving of engines and gunning of the gas pedal for the fast and furious crowd, lots of casual littering. For some reason, people are now drinking in their parked cars, and discarding the liquor and wine bottles along the curbs. One particularly annoying lady has been sitting in her running car in front of HQ, drinking and smoking while on the phone (said phone is plugged into her car sound system, of course) for 11-12 hour long conversations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given all of the time spent here at HQ, one has been using the “controlled environment” to sharpen up some of his skills. The shut down has affected the amount of atmospheric and light pollution here in the ancient village of Astoria significantly, and given my night owl life style I’ve been marveling at the number of visible stars in our skies. Clicking on the image above will take you to Flickr and the larger sized iterations of it, wherein you’ll see something approaching constellations, visible from Astoria Queens and less than 5 miles from Manhattan.

Astrophotography is its own “thing” and not something I’ve ever really had the patience, opportunity, or inclination to experiment with. The plague cleared skies and all of this time on my hands has allowed for all three cautions to be abandoned. Of course, saying all that, it seemed to rain or was overcast 6 out of 7 nights last week. This isn’t “proper” Astro, of course, just a stab at exploring the technique.

It really feels like we’re settled into the trough of “the event” right now, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been happily surprised by the creation and sudden appearance of a new hole in the fences around the Sunnyside Yards, something which has occurred in recent weeks. Whomever is in charge of fence holes at Amtrak had recently sealed up three of my old “go to’s” and a humble narrator has been feeling bereft. One is always in search of a good hole, especially one large enough to allow access to a camera lens.

Holes. Now, more than ever. Also, it’s May 4th, so may the Force be with you.

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, May 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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.

visual identity

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CoronAstoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Before the nightly helicopters begin circling the ancient village, just after sunset in fact, one staggered forth from HQ with the intention of taking a LONG walk. Said walk ended up being five and change hours long and covered around 12 miles of western Queens. What was cool about my night was that the only people I saw were blocks distant from me, or driving vehicles. Funnily enough, upon arriving at my inevitable destination amongst the concrete devastations of Newtown Creek, where one can find themself truly alone, I can finally relax a bit and let my guard down.

While marching around in areas zoned for residential occupancy, one walks quickly, hoping to leave the humans behind as quickly as possible for fear of contagion. Lurking in fear, indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One wears the mask in spots like these, even though there was no one on the street. The sidewalks are narrow, and it was garbage day. Cooties.

Once a certain geographic juncture has been surpassed, the mask goes in my pocket and for a time I can breathe easily again. The industrial neighborhoods are absolutely and completely deserted, save for an occasional warehouse storing foodstuffs, or near the yards of commercial shipping operations like FedEx and UPS. Knowing where these locations are, one avoids them. Getting out of Astoria and across Sunnyside along certain less travelled paths are fairly key.

South, I head south. I bob, and I weave.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in prior posts, one is desirous of open sight lines. I might just have to go for a ride on the NYC Ferry at some point, riding on the open top deck of course. As also mentioned, you couldn’t pay me to get on a subway right now, so after landing at Manhattan’s Pier 11, I’d have to either take another ferry, or walk back to Astoria along the East River from Wall Street.

I really want to feel some sunlight hitting my skinvelope, though, so maybe.

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, April 27th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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

April 29, 2020 at 11:00 am

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