The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn Bridge

neurotic virtuosi

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

May 9th, after spending a day riding on the NYC Ferry back and forth across the harbor, one set up his tripod in Lower Manhattan at sunset in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Bridge. On both sides of the river, you’ll notice photographers agglutinating along the fences about an hour before the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself descends.

I had a funny encounter with some kid who doesn’t understand the way things work – etiquette wise – in photo circles.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of my “get there early and stay late” thing revolves around claiming a vantage spot which I’ve chosen. In the unspoken etiquette of the picture taking community, that means that if I got there before you – you have to find another spot. This kid, who was in his late teens or early twenties, says to me “excuse me, are you doing a time lapse” and then indicates that his goal is to shoot such a sequence of images. I say “no” and he asks me to move so that he can. Now… I am pretty amenable to helping a guy out, but since he was being a dick…

I say to him “just to get this straight, you’re telling me you want me to get out of your way because you couldn’t be bothered to be here earlier.” The kid says “yes.” I say to him “Tell you what, I’m going to be a nice guy and move two steps over, but you do realize how special an asshole you are, and that you should seek medical advice about this malignant narcissism you display, right?” Being a child of his generation, he said “yes,” not understanding what I was saying to him. He didn’t care, he got what he wanted.

I stepped two side steps to the right so that he could have his time lapse position, and just stared directly at him with my heat vision eyes until his soul curdled and he sulked away. He didn’t shoot a time lapse during this interval, instead he waved his little Sony A3 with a kit lens on it at the river like the camera was a little flag. Guarantee he was set to “auto” or “program” mode, as not once did he adjust his settings.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Take my word on this one… for the sorts of shots you commonly see here at Newtown Pentacle, the difference of a few yards right or left in terms of the “POV” is seldom an issue. It’s the Manhattan Bridge you’re looking at there, and said mega infrastructure offers one several POV locations. The notion that this kid had to be standing exactly in the spot I occupied was simply annoying, and its positional unimportance as compared to another spot two steps away is staggering.

There’s a few “narrow” POV spots which I wouldn’t abandon once I’d already set up the tripod… but here? At the edge of South Street Seaport? This isn’t even the best view of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, I just didn’t want to head any further uptown from Pier 11, and end up having to take the subway instead of the ferry home to Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of the NYC Ferry, I boarded the Astoria bound boat shortly after the sunset ebbed away into dusk. My lenses were swapped – day kit stored away and night kit deployed – and I kept on shooting.

The nice thing about shooting digital is that you can just keep on going, experimenting, shooting until either the battery is spent or you’ve run out of storage space on the camera’s memory cards. I’ve got two spare batteries in my bag, and an empty set of backup memory cards with me at all times. Last summer, I managed to shoot for four straight dawn to dusk days without having to install the backup cards, and seldom if ever needed to do a battery change in the field.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Logistical issues abound, however, when returning from a day long photo expedition like this. Night shots, captured from a moving boat and depicting highly detailed scenery like the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge above, have a fairly high failure rate. By failure, I mean they’re not optimally sharp or the focus landed on the subject in an unanticipated fashion. Thereby, I’ll crack out nine or ten exposures of the same basic shot and choose one to keep. The rest get trashed.

Again, the benefit of shooting digital. I came home this particular night (after riding the ferry all day between Astoria, Manhattan, Rockaway, and back to Astoria) with something like a thousand shots on my memory cards. My habit is to do the first pass on a set of images the same day I shoot them, and before I went to bed the group had been reduced down to about 250. By the next evening, I had edited out all but 130. Something like 100 ended up getting uploaded to Flickr.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you click through to see the original of the photo above at Flickr, you’ll be able to see the structure of the steel of the Queensboro Bridge in the shot, which was captured at f2 at ISO 128,000 from a moving ferry boat at night. Because of the f2/High ISO you can’t quite see the rivets and this image is also heavily cropped in on. Still, you do what you can with where you are when you can.

“Are you shooting a time lapse”…


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 27, 2022 at 11:00 am

ivied antique

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, one set the camera up along the Brooklyn waterfront on a warm evening in late March and got busy with the clicking and the whirring.

Special attention was paid to the Brooklyn Bridge, and to the weird lighting which descended on the East River at dusk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It had been overcast and rain was threatening all day, but once the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself disappeared, the sky was dark but colored with electric blues. This only lasted a few minutes, but wow.

I had been out of sync with the ferry schedule all day, perpetually arriving at a dock just as a ferry was pulling away from it. Given that it was growing late, I intended on being on time for the boat that would be visiting this particular stop nearby Fulton Landing before heading north on the river towards Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While waiting for the boat to arrive, I converted the operation away from its “landscape/tripod” configuration over to the “handheld/low light” one. I’ve described this in the past, it’s mainly swapping out certain lenses for other ones and safely tying off the tripod onto my knapsack.

The boat arrived, I flashed the ticket on my phone to the deckhand, and soon I was snugly ensconced on the NYC Ferry heading north.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you haven’t ridden the ferry at night… well, I don’t care, you should get out more and watch less television.

The real world is so much more interesting than fiction, if you ask me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last stop before Long Island City’s “LIC Landing” stop is 34th street in Manhattan, where you get to see the shot above.

What is it with all the people who move into the newly constructed condos along the East River who don’t seem to have drapes, curtains, or Venetian blinds? Conspicuously consume much, you oligarchic fucks?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of no drapes, I wonder if they don’t have carpets either (drum shot, please). As you might be able to discern right now, I’m just dripping with sarcasm and hatred at the moment. Something about edging towards a Civil War in a country that’s as armed to the teeth as we are just sets me off.

More tomorrow.


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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.

hidden latch

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

March 22nd. That’s what we’re up to in today’s post! Finally getting a bit caught up, and I won’t be running the risk of showing you photos in June that have snow on the ground. As mentioned – one has been unusually prolific in 2022 – which is likely a reaction to all of the lockdown dealies and restrictions from the last couple of years, and thereby the posts here at Newtown Pentacle have been carrying double the normal number of photos.

So, on March 22nd, I was riding on the ferry again and decided to get off the thing nearby the Brooklyn Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was going to be about an hour before the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself tucked itself away behind New Jersey, so I set up my tripod and claimed a spot. There were a few other shooters at the waterfront park where I did my “set up.”

Most of them seemed to be packing Sony camera systems, and from the look of what they were up to – shooting time lapse sequences.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I wasn’t there with anything specific – shot wise – in mind. Catch as catch can days are my favorites, as a humble narrator enjoys serendipity.

Over to the southwest, a bit of a hullabaloo seemed to be underway in Jersey…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I later found out that a plastics recycling plant in Bayonne experienced a pretty serious fire, which is unfortunately a pretty common occurrence for recycling plants in Bayonne.

Remember when the Chlorine Bleach factory in Jersey City was burning during the winter? I called my buddy in Kearny that night, and gave him very specific instructions to follow should he notice a greenish mist wafting along the streets. Chlorine gas is heavier than the normal atmospheric gases, so if you find yourself in the path of some, get up to the second or third floors and wait it out. Whatever you do, do not turn on the water faucet. The gas and liquid will instantly combine and form a cloud of hydrochloric acid, which will dissolve you and yours.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Who else watches the YouTube channel for the National Chemical Safety Board? What? Just me? Sheiste.

The sky started getting interesting, but didn’t go all crimson and orange as I had hoped it would.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Regardless, the scenery was still pretty choice, especially when the lights started coming on for the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan behind it. I decided to hang around, and blow off some stupid Zoom meeting that I was supposed to attend.

Apparently, and this is a direct response to my realization that “Nothing Matters and Nobody Cares,” I no longer give any shits whatsoever.


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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 16, 2022 at 11:30 am

he screams

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Kosciuszcko Bridge, crossing my beloved Newtown Creek, pictured above. One had scuttled here from the Brooklyn Navy Yard along Meeker Avenue, and since my trick left foot was acting up, I decided that this would be an excellent place to chill out for a bit. As mentioned yesterday, a bathroom break was also required. There’s usually an unlocked Porta Potty down here, so that was my first destination in and area I call DUKBO – Down Under the Kosciuszcko Bridge Onramp (the Porta Potty was a great experience, I gave it a three out of four stars Yelp review).

I set up the camera on the tripod and got busy, afterwards. Of course, I could have gotten away with just doing hand held shots here, as it wasn’t even close to noon o’clock yet. Saying that, I wanted to “slow things down” a bit and attached a filter to my lens to cut down on the amount of light entering it. Smooth out some of the distracting texture and reflection in the water, all that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One finds its fascinating, actually. When you’ve got the shutter open for 10-30 seconds, you can begin to visualize the currents in the water column. See how, and where, the flow goes, y’know’s?

My pals at Newtown Creek Alliance shake their heads “no” at me when I describe my desire to release hundreds of thousands of rubber duckies into Newtown Creek, just to see where they go and illustrate how the currents work. Something about “micro plastic” and illegal dumping pretty much describes their objections. They also don’t like my plan to seed pumpkins and or carnivorous plants into the shorelines in Maspeth. No fun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You’ll notice structures like the one pictured above all over the harbor, and their purpose is to provide protection for shoreline features from passing maritime traffic. Called “dolphins,” they’re generally a bunch of wooden piles held together with galvanized steel rope. This is one of the ones which protect the piers of the Kosciuszcko Bridge, but it’s obviously associated with the 1939 version, rather than the newer one that’s currently extant.

The wood is likely creosote treated, which is why it hasn’t rotted away. Creosote is a chemical treatment for wood – usually coal tar creosote or petroleum creosote in a setting like this- which involves placing wood in a vacuum chamber to rid it of any water in the wood’s cellular matrix and then after introducing the creosote into the chamber, reversing the pressure to several atmospheres to force the creosote into the wood’s cellular lattice. This effectively makes the wood a hostile environment for micro and macro organisms. This process is used for railroad sleeper ties, dolphins, piers, utility poles and a host of other applications. Creosote is also a major component of a substance sold as a food flavoring additive called “Liquid Smoke.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on the Queens side of my beloved Newtown Creek, that’s the former site of the Penny Bridge. It’s also formerly a Long Island Railroad Lower Montauk line station called “Penny Bridge.”

Just to recap my day to this point, I left HQ in Astoria at about 4:30 in the morning and made it over to the NYC Ferry dock at Hallets Cove. From there, I captured shots for a photo assignment at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and then walked along and under the BQE through Brooklyn to this spot at Newtown Creek. The shot above was captured at about 10:30 in the morning on November the 21st, so I’d been “at it” for quite a while at this point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’d ingested a meal along the way, a standard NYC egg sandwich and a container of orange juice which I grabbed at some deli in Williamsburg. Saying that, I had become fairly dehydrated by this point and was regretting my normal prohibition against carrying bottles of fluid. This habit of mine, which is prosaic as I’m literally carrying high capacity batteries and electronic devices all around my person, has bit me in the ass several times recently. Have to work out a way to get around my physical needs, I always think.

Between my sweatshirt – which hosts 22 distinct and secure pockets – my usual pants – which have 13 pockets – and the filthy black overcoat with its two pockets, and the ubiquitous camera bag(s) – I’ve got to figure out some spot where I can secret away a pint of water. Of course, then you have to pee again, so it’s a recursive feedback loop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I made one more stop after this, and then abandoned the entire idea of walking the rest of the way home due to the operatic condition offered by the trick left foot which I’ve been complaining about for what feels like years now. Internal dialogue wise, I refer to my feet as “the roadway interface” and having a full 50% of this apparatus malfunctioning has become a bit more than an annoyance. It’s slowing a humble narrator down, damnit.

More 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

January 4, 2022 at 1:00 pm

surpassing despair

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is continuing his short break from normal posts this week, and single shots from the archives will be presented.

Pictured above is the Brooklyn Bridge, shot back in 2010, when the NYC DOT was doing a largish maintenance project on the span. Right place, right time.


“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 5, 2021 at 3:30 pm

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