The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Hell Gate

fumbling in

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

June 3rd saw a humble narrator drawn to Astoria Park by the annual Astoria Carnival. My initial intention was to buy a ticket and ride the Ferris Wheel pictured above in pursuance of capturing an uncommon view of the “zone,” but the high price of the ride coupled with the presence of smudged plexiglass on the cars made me reconsider.

Also, the carnival was positively mobbed with teenagers. I decided discretion wasn’t the better part of valor, and headed down to the waterfront along Shore Boulevard instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was an overcast and kind of humid day, which usually makes for decent sunsets, so my toes were pointed down at Hells Gate.

Really, that’s what this section of the East River is called.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One set up for landscape shots, with tripod and all the other gear deployed. The last time I was down here, I missed a few shots which just sort of “happened” when the camera was configured thusly, and when preparing for this evening’s activities I had a plan in place for the eventuality reemerging.

You can save a set of camera settings, assigning them to a camera dial position which Canon calls “creative settings.” There’s three of these dial positions available. I had set one up in advance for the circumstance of “I’m set up for long and slow exposure and a tugboat shows up.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thereby, when a tug actually did show up, I was ready for it. It isn’t anything obtuse, these settings, unlike the one I’m noodling for creating time lapses. The latter is something I’m still figuring out, which is why you haven’t seen any of that stuff yet.

Time lapse photography involves taking hundreds of shots at timed intervals and then lining them all up as an animated image. It’s different than video, as it’s a series of stills. This allows me to do what I do during the “developing” of the RAW format image files captured in camera. “Shoot for the edit” is the best advice I can give – other than “show up, do the work, go back home and finish the work.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “showing up” thing is a big deal for me. Keyboard Warriors abound in the modern world. They’re generally bitchers or moaners, like to describe the way the world used to be or the way it should be, and you don’t normally see them in person until somebody is handing out trophies or the press is there.

Sweat equity is what I’m built around respecting. Show up. Do the work. Go home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Turns out I was right about the atmospheric conditions producing a pretty spectacular sunset. Speaking of “shoot for the edit,” the shot above is actually three shots. The foreground one received a shallow depth of field and the focal point is right in the middle of Triborough’s reflection. The second shot is focused on the bridge’s Randall’s Island pierage, and the third on the Manhattan shoreline and sky. I changed up the exposure settings for all three as well, and then married them together using an extrapolation of the “focus stacking” technique.

Shoot for the edit.


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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 11, 2022 at 11:00 am

uncertain outlines

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Scry, Thursday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just saying the words “Hells Gate” is fairly thrilling, ain’t it? Pictured is the East River suspension bridge section of the 1936 vintage Triborough Bridge complex, a span owned and operated by the MTA Bridges and Tunnels division. You’re not supposed to photograph the bridge, whether on it or around it, according to this management group who “strictly enforce” the prohibition against camera use. It’s good to know that they’ve solved all of their other problems so they can focus in on suppressing our first amendment rights. But… terrorism…

A fairly recent short walk found me on Shore Blvd. nearby Astoria Park, breaking the rules like the rebel I was born to be. Robert Moses would have found a way to charge me for photography access, which I’d gladly pay if only the folks at MTA would take it. That’s one beautiful artifact of the New Deal right there. Funny that a group of faceless bureaucrats have decided you can’t take a picture of it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One scanned the water for evidence of something clearly impossible, fantastic in implication, and hard to believe. There are stories, some of which I’ve passed on over the years, of oddities in the water. The largest intentional detonation in human history, until the Hiroshima Bomb, was set off here by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. They claim it was to aid navigation, but…

Every Mayor since Franciso Wood was made aware of the rumors, and Wood’s advice to do nothing about what lurks in the turgid waters of Hells Gate and disavow any knowledge thereof has been passed down to every subsequent Mayor, who have all followed his lead since. LaGuardia added to the Wood maxim the official denial that the Triborough Bridge wasn’t actually built to lock something down to the bottom of the harbor and keep it from escaping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps the reasoning behind MTA Bridge and Tunnel’s prohibition on photography is the institutional fear that if atmospheric conditions are just right, and the waters are calm enough, you’d be able to get a shot revealing the hidden truth of Hells Gate to the world. That image would be psychoclastic, rendering viewers of it hopelessly insane. Ripples of chaos would dapple through the City in the manner of a heavy snow, wreaking bloody chaos.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be hidden down there?


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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

April 1, 2021 at 2:00 pm

diverse states

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Full throttle Thursday, and Merry Christmas.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in some detail yesterday, I’m playing around with the settings on the new camera, and trying to do so in visually interesting but lonely places. Part of this endless drivel about photographic process has mentioned the concept of combining multiple shallow depth of field and varied exposure shots into a single image, like the one above.

There are 38 individual photos incorporated into the shot above, and that’s what it looks like when a tugboat goes by at Hells Gate… what… how are you filling all the empty pandemic hours you’re experiencing? Sheesh, on Xmas eve, too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan for the holiday involves rewatching several episodes of the Star Wars “Clone Wars” series. As I’ve got the time this year, I’m trying to watch all of Star Wars in the order of story continuity, and having suffered through the first two of the prequels, its time to nestle into the winter with the cartoon series (which is arguably the best Star Wars ever done, imho). Don’t judge, I was a nerd before it was cool to be a nerd. The hipsters are nerd poseurs. Imagine giving a shit about how you look or what people think of you. Haircuts, the lot of them.

Pictured is another focus stacked but entirely different shot, depicting the Hell’s Gate Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mission accomplished, the camera was converted back to handheld mode, which is a process so incredibly simplified with the new unit that I kept on thinking that I missed something. My walk home involved crossing Astoria Park. It was an uneventful crossing with no wackadoodle interaction. I had to pee, and the air smelled like marijuana smoke. After finding a tree to water, and breathing in the atmospherics deeply, one was able to relax and slouch roughly into the scuttle back to HQ.

Merry Christmas, y’all, from the other fat guy with a white beard – the one in the filthy black raincoat.

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, December 21st. 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

December 24, 2020 at 11:00 am

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

kindred eccentrics

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Thursday’s just kind of happen, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I could talk, in a completely uneducated manner, about inverted trusses and why they’re cool. Instead, I’d refer you to google and tell you to read up on what an actual engineer has to offer on the subject. That’s the Hells Gate Bridge, as seen from its western base on Randalls/Wards Island. Surprisingly, this section of the rail bridge is a bit different, visually at least, than the more familiar section (to me) that towers over Astoria Park on the Queens side.

As mentioned earlier in the week, Randalls/Wards Island is a novel place for me, one which I incongruously haven’t explored. My inclination is to go the other way, towards my beloved Newtown Creek, when I’m taking the camera out for a walk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was able to get up close and personal with Hells Gate, and stood directly in front of its masonry pier when shooting the inverted truss structure pictured above and below. The bridge is part of the NY Connecting Railroad, which runs first to Sunnyside Yards and then the East River tunnels into Manhattan on the Queens side. It continues over Randalls/Wards, where the bridge ultimately connects to the Port Morris section of the Bronx and the Oak Point Rail Yard. From there… well… as mentioned in earlier posts, what I know about the Bronx wouldn’t fill a thimble.

This shot points eastwards on the right, towards Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You just can’t help but do some abstraction around this bridge, with all the structural steel flying around. Oddly enough, Hells Gate has no structural lighting kit, and at night all you can see is a silhouette with the odd navigational signal or blinking aviation beacon attached to it against the night sky. The bridge is the property of the Amtrak outfit, and you regularly see their Northeast Corridor passenger trains crossing it. There are also freight trains, which are more often than not operated by the CSX company. I’m not sure if other rail companies operate on this former New York Central Railroad Company span.

As long as you’re googling inverted truss bridges, you might as well search for Operation Praetorious. That’s the one where Nazi saboteurs wanted to blow the Hells Gate Bridge up during WW2, an operation foiled by the Greatest Generation’s Antifa. Those ubiquitous rascals are everywhere, ain’t they?

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 23, 2020 at 11:00 am

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