The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘East River

damnable resemblance

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A bit more Triborough, and some thoughts on the current crisis…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ok, here’s the way things are going to go here at the old Newtown Pentacle “for the duration.” I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next couple of weeks at the start of the week of Monday, March 16th. 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. That’s the reality right now, it’s all a craps shoot. As of right now, all of my tours and summer events are on hold until we see the way this shakes out.

Also, if anything truly critical happens which needs to be broadcast, I’ll augment the regular blog schedule with news posts. If you’re in any kind of trouble and need help, here in Astoria or in LIC, contact me here and I’ll try to make the powers that be aware of your situation. This isn’t 911 or anything, but I’ve got a line of communication or two with officialdom that most people don’t have, so consider me as a resource.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speculative logic, as in purely speculative – Epidemiological playbooks for the United States Government can and might take the form of soldiers deployed on our streets. Their mission might and will probably include maintaining law and order (the cops are going to be overwhelmed, and will get sick too), as well as vouchsafing and handling the delivery of essential supplies, and possibly handling mortuary practicalities. Border control between the States might happen too. I’ve already seen some goofy things happening on the streets here in Astoria, including some jack ass beating up his girlfriend in front of my house a couple of nights ago. You REALLY don’t want to be incarcerated right now, so best behavior, all.

The traditional American sophistry says that “we’ll get through this together,” whereas the Coronavirus pandemic utterly negates the concept of “together.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So… I hope you’re all doing what you can to stay safe and healthy. Saying that, an aerosol based virus is a very difficult thing to control and contain. If you encounter a situation where you can be kind as opposed to cruel in the coming weeks, please consider enacting the former behavioral set. Check in on your family and friends, via phone rather than just text, especially those in your circle who suffer from mood disorders and other psychological bad weather. Tell people you love that you love them. Don’t start a witch panic by sharing obvious malarkey on social media.

If Newtown Pentacle stops updating, and a humble narrator is no more, please look in on Our Lady of the Pentacle occasionally and make sure that she has enough milk for her tea.


“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 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

universal belief

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Supermoon in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One had yet another of the seemingly endless series of community meetings he is obliged to attend occur, and afterwards a friend gave me a lift over to Astoria Park so that I could wave the camera about for an interval. It was that unseasonably warm day we all experienced, and the celestial calendar indicated that a “supermoon” was going to occur. I had already decided, before getting to my location, that I wasn’t going to be trying to record the “astro” shot palaver where you can see all the details on the moon as well as a clear back and foreground, and was instead going to be shooting more of a landscape dealie with a glowing orb lighting up the sky.

To wit, above is the supermoon framed by the Triborough Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “palaver” mentioned above requires multiple exposures which are then combined in a photoshop composite. You expose one shot for the moon, which is actually as bright as the sun to the camera. Then you expose for the sky, and finally for the other elements in the composition. I’ve done this a bunch of times, so I’m quite familiar with the technique. One of the snags you hit with this however, is that despite what the perception of the human eye indicates, the moon is actually traveling at quite a clip through your frame. Depending on where it is in your frame, you’ve got between 2 and 8 seconds to “get it” before it’s movement causes motion blur. Since it’s night time, you need to calculate the other exposures and when compositing the final shot, compensate for the movement of the orb through the shot.

It is possible to “get it in one” of course, but that’s fraught with technical issues as well. I just went for the “ambience” instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thing is, I wasn’t feeling terribly secure as far as my personage when shooting these images. As is the usual case on nice nights, every “Astoria Boy” in the neighborhood was on station along Shore Blvd. There were hundreds, possibly even a thousand, of impulse control challenged post adolescents milling around down there. Their music, played at top volume, was terrible. The clouds of weed smoke rising from their assemblage and drifting across Astoria Park was intoxicating. If you like the “wacky tabacky,” save yourself a few bucks by just sitting downwind from this crowd.

Just to make sure I’m perfectly clear about this most salient of points – their music was computer generated (badly), irredeemable, and unabashedly terrible. Gah.

Teenagers… brrr.


“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 16, 2020 at 11:00 am

rough generalization

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Into the Shining City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The particular circle of hell which one had to navigate into recently involved heading down to Lower Manhattan in pursuance of particular shot for a client/friend of mine. Luckily, Our Lady of the Pentacle’s offices overlook the subject which needed to be recorded, so at least I didn’t have to sneak into an office building in the Wall Street area to get it, instead I was invited in. Like a vampire, that gave one leave to work freely. Saying that, one still had to negotiate the stinking concrete bunkers of the subway system, during the height of cold and flu season. All is darkness.

As you may have gleaned by now, lords and ladies, a humble narrator is in a bit of a mood at the moment. Frustration, Cronenbergian body horror, frustration.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lower Manhattan, as in the Financial District, is inhuman. Every architectural detail and street facing bit is designed to remind you of institutional permanence and the futility of individualism before the fiery event horizon of corporate collectivism. It’s not about “you,” and in fact, you don’t matter. Even the glowing emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself cannot permeate down to the pavement here. The sidewalk isn’t even the ground in the financial district, rather it’s just another level of a vast complex of concrete and steel. As above, so below. At the top are the titans of industry and the Chief Executive Officers. Down here am I, an ant who is the Least Executive Officer. If I actually had two pennies to rub together, they would be used to start a trash fire in pursuance of creating warmth and illumination.

What this City needs, really needs, is a good plague – followed by a torrential rain which would carry away our filth and wash it out into the sea.

Did you know that it once rained every single day for 5.5 million years? That’s part of the process by which the Atlantic Ocean was formed. At the bottom of the Atlantic is the Marianas Trench, where untold monsters are thought to dwell. There are also gigantic and fairly primitive invertebrates down there in the pressurized deep, which consume all the dead flesh raining down from above. If any of these chitinous ghouls are dragged up to the surface, where the atmospheric pressure is comparatively slim to that of the deep, they swell up and pop in the manner of meat balloons. That’s your trivia fact of the day. Lords and Ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, for a bottom feeder such as myself, the POV offered by the offices of Our Lady aren’t differentially high enough from my normal elevations to cause any physical symptoms other than nose bleeds. The shot above isn’t the one I went to the City to get, but since the East River was just sitting there like a revealed whore – I couldn’t resist.

Back tomorrow with another “ring ting tingling” dirge. Bah. Humbug, all that.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

December 10, 2019 at 11:00 am

protective illusions

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Rainy NY Harbor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ultimately, the whole reason you’ve been treated to me expounding on the hellish nature of the Times Square subway station, as well as positing that the Garden of Eden was located in Times Square itself, is that the Working Harbor Committee offered a Circleline tour during the afternoon and I was in the City anyway. It was positively pouring out, which a humble narrator decided to make the best of. For once, I wasn’t busy on the mike, so a clickety clicking with the camera was commenced.

In addition to the steady downpour, there was a dense fog permeating the scene. Actually, there were seemingly two fog banks, one clinging to the surface of the water, with the second about 200-300 feet up. In between was rain, constant rain. It’s never boring out on the water, I guess,

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Foggy days are a formidable challenge in terms of acquiring tack sharp focus. The occlusion of ambient light due to the misty clouds changes constantly, and this sort of climate is especially vexing in terms of not absolutely destroying your camera. Liquids, aerosols, and all the other states which water takes are absolute anathema to digital devices. Luckily, my omnipresent bag of tricks includes the everyday carry of a couple of supermarket carrier bags.

I pop a hole in the bottom for the lens, gaff tape to bag to my lens hood, and then stick my hands through the carrier loops to keep in it place. Looks stupid, but it’s effective, and I don’t pay BH Photo $7-8 a pop for those clear plastic doohickeys. Also, I don’t have to worry about having one with me, since they fold up into a two inch square rather easily and weigh virtually nothing.

Since atmospheric conditions were supplying me with background and foreground separation, isolating my subject was a piece of cake. The hard part was forcing my camera to focus in on the tugboats, rather than the droplets of water falling through the intervening atmosphere between the tug and the lens. Truth be told, I shot the set up above six times and got two positive results, with the one above being the pick of the litter.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s always a bit of a trial getting the exposure correct when you’re on the water in NY Harbor. You’ve got great big dark things floating about in a luminous and quivering jelly, with bright sky and a hopelessly complicated shoreline which you’re photographing from a quick moving object, essentially. What do you expose for? Why are you here? Who are you?

Due to the pall of humidity, I had to shoot at a fairly high ISO as far as daylight goes. The hard part was getting the color temperature correct during the development stage of things. Here’s a tip – on high iso days like the one pictured above, set your camera to record in a cooler range to reduce noise. If you shoot daylight (5400 kelvin in the Canon family) the rusts and oranges will barely register as anything BUT noise. Your shot will look weird, noisy, and too warm. I captured these at a custom color temperature setting of 3750 K, and then pushed the color to 5500 K when the raw files were in photoshop. That reduced the amount of noise considerably, while neutralizing the color back into what my eye saw.

Anyway, that was my week of wet, at your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 29th, 7-9 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

October 25, 2019 at 11:00 am

was unmistakably

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Minimalist Wednesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I have a whole category of photos which bear the key words “dead things.” Composed entirely of the various cadavers encountered during my travels, it’s overwhelmingly populated by ex birds. Sure, there’s a few dead raccoons, rats, and other mammalians, but NYC seems to be a bird extermination machine. Spotted this poor bastard on the streets of Lower Manhattan recently, for instance. I’m not a bird person, so I won’t even attempt to identify specie or type. It’s a bird, and it’s dead.

Morbid? Maybe. In my mind, I’m documenting the extinguishing of a life which passed without comment or notice. Also, stop being so sensitive to the abject realities of life and death in the big city. Someday, that might be a photo of you up there, lying dead on the sidewalk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That Soundview Ferry tour I’ve been doing is a lot of fun for me, and the route is fantastic. Problem is that in order to get to the meetup spot on time from Astoria via the Ferry, I end up in Lower Manhattan a good hour before I need to be there. I try to make some productive use of the time after reviewing my notes, waving the camera about. Unfortunately, since Manhattan’s spit and polish modern incarnation is so visually uninteresting to me, I have to wander far afield to find something I’d like to shoot. Rusty stuff is always a win.

Luckily, Pier 11 is owned by the EDC, who love building stuff but don’t like maintaining it. Uncoated steel and salt water don’t mix. Paint, fellas, paint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As opined earlier in the week, one is in the midst of a whole lot of have to. Yesterday, I participated in a conversation with other members of the Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group (superfund) Steering Committee figuring out an agenda for the next public meeting and discussing the latest twists and turns in the story. Then down to Greenpoint to conduct a night time Infrastructure Creek walking tour (which will happen again on October 29, see link below) and afterwards came back home to Astoria.

Today, I’m meant to participate in some fancy pants symposium taking place in the Shining City. On my way home, I’m planning on doing a bit of photographing at Grand Central Station before getting on the train. Doesn’t look like it’s going to be an “outside day” according to the weather people.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 29th, 7-9 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

October 16, 2019 at 11:00 am

animal smell

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I’m so jaded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has begun to understand the literary trope of Vampires acquiring new human familiars every fifty or so years so as to remain connected to the world around them in some way. That picture above is a pretty normal sight for me to witness, so much so that I’ll often pass by the scene above without bothering to photograph it. When you hang around with the crowd that I do, unless it’s a shot of some hidden subway tunnel that has sixteen inches of undisturbed dust on the floor with a satanic altar in the middle of the shot, sights like the one above are just “meh.” Jaded.

This thought occurred to me a couple of weeks ago when I was hanging out with some of my Newtown Creek peeps watching a tug wrestle a few barges into place. We watched the show with some disinterest, as such sights have become ultra mundane to us over the years. There was a young kid on the boat with us, and his jaw was pinned wide open while his eyes were as big as saucers. Bringing new people to the show, and seeing the wonder play out on their faces, is critical in remembering just how amazing all these things actually are. Like I said, Vampires and human familiars.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This week’s minor injury has involved a sprain in my right foot, which compliments a chronic bit of pain in the left one. There’s little to be done for the left one, given that it’s the after effect of having snapped a bone or two in it around thirty years ago. The right one has been all wrapped up in an elastic compression bandage and is seemingly on the mend. Should make tonight’s “Infrastructure Creek” walking tour fun for me.

There’s still space available if you’re desirous, and it would likely allow this Vampire the ability to feel emotions again. Walk ups are always welcome, and I’ll be on the corner of Greenpoint and Kingsland Avenues in Greenpoint no later than 6:30.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has a rather full schedule this week, and I’ll be scuttling all over the city, but I fear not too much in the way of fun will be on the menu. The third week of October, however, isn’t exactly packed yet, and I’m hoping for the opportunity of interesting things to take photos of occurring. Who can guess what the weather will be, or what injury I might be inflicted with next?

That’s what I call excitement, anticipating the next random abrasion or puncture of the skinvelope or an unheralded structural issue emerging from the ossuarial or ligamentary systems. If I was actually a Vampire, I’d be able to instantly heal like Wolverine, which would be cool and also allow me to win bets at bars.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 15th, 7-9 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

October 15, 2019 at 11:00 am

dreaming friend

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Tugboat, baby, tugboat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found me riding north, and home to Astoria, on the NYC Ferry. The commuter boat passed by the Ruth M. Reinauer tug as it transited southwards beneath the Manhattan Bridge and down the East River. Ruth M. Reinauer is a relatively new tugboat by NY Harbor standards, where it’s not uncommon to spot tugs which have been in service since the Vietnam War, having been launched in 2009.

Rated at 4,720 horsepower, the Ruth M. is the first of a new class of Tug for Reinauer. Check out this page at tugboatinformation.com for all of her technical specs and so on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ruth M. Reinauer was towing an articulated fuel barge, which was fairly empty (an assumption based on how high it was riding in the water). As is often mentioned, whether a tug is pulling, pushing, or has barges riding “on the hip” it’s called “towing.”

That barge that the Ruth M. is towing was also built pretty recently, 2008 in fact, and it’s called the RTC 102. RTC 102 is a smidge over 413 feet long, has a capacity of 100,000 gross tons of liquid cargo, and weighs some 6,545 gross tons when unloaded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given the general heading which the Ruth M. Reinauer was on, and were I a betting narrator, I’d say that it was heading to the Kill Van Kull between Staten Island and Bayonne, New Jersey for a fill up. Might be going further afield, as Port Elizabeth Newark and the Arthur Kill are found beyond the KVK.

Petroleum enters NYC – mostly – by either pipeline, ship, or barge. The latter methodology involves towing fuel barges like the RTC 102 to a shoreline tank farm somewhere along the coast. The fuel is pumped from barge to shore whereupon it’s loaded into trucks for delivery to gas stations, or other end customers (heating oil etc.). That single barge is the equivalent of thirty eight heavy trucks which would otherwise need to cross through the City using arterial and local streets.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek AT NIGHT! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! October 15th, 7-9 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

October 14, 2019 at 11:00 am

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