The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Hudson River

doglike things

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a terrifying visit to a cautionary tale known as Hudson Yards, a quick ride on the 7 train carried me back to the gently rolling hills of Western Queens where a transfer at the Queensboro Plaza subway stop was actuated and I was soon on an N train heading towards almond eyed Astoria. This was from the end of my journeys on Sunday – August 21st – which were meant to include riding on a Fireboat, but which ended up in a staggered scuttle about the abominable Hudson Yards.

One was hoping to wander through a street festival or something lively in the way home through Astoria – a Detestation of some Abyssal Power, or a Celebration of a Lord or Lady of Light – but it was just another Sunday in the ancient village.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Notice was taken of this woman feeding a group of birds. The birds seemed to be arranging themselves into a geometric pattern, but logic dictates that it was just the pattern of the woman’s arcing throws of seed or bread that they were following. Still, one wonders, and more than wonders…

Once I caught a photo of a group of birds sitting upon a series of Astoria power lines, in a pattern which reminded me of musical notation. I sent it to a musician friend of mine for analysis. He refused to discuss the matter after viewing the image, instructing that I should never mention it again and advising that I destroy the image.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 24th of August, a day trip to visit a friend in the pretty town of Hudson, New York was undertaken. It was a long drive and my photographic curiosities were stifled due to social obligation.

There used to be a whaling fleet who’s home base was here in Hudson. The financial benefits of this industrial activity explains how they could afford the expenses of building out the grandiose architecture from the 1840’s – 1880’s era which is still extant in the town, as said fleet often did business with Ambrose Kingsland in Greenpoint. The Newtown Creek tributary “Whale Creek” is so named because of Kingsland’s whale oil refinery, and the corollary industries of rope manufacture, blacksmithing, shipwrighting, and miscellaneous ship supply hugged the shores of Whale Creek in Greenpoint.

Staten Island artist John Noble actually painted Whale Creek during this era – here’s a link to the Noble Museum at Snug Harbor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hudson is a very attractive town, and I wish that I had more time to explore. I also really wanted to get a shot of the old docks where the Newtown Creek bound whaling ships would launch from, but as mentioned above – this was a social visit and not a photo mission.

The shot above is from a park along the Hudson River that obviously used to be part of a barge to rail setup.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday the 27th of August, and this shot was from something like 8 in the morning, captured while sitting in the passenger seat of a late model Mercedes on the George Washington Bridge.

The Mercedes belongs to my pal Max, and we were on the road heading west for a week long “away game.” I left the pinstripes at home, put on my gray uniform, and configured the camera to a very odd group of settings.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ISO was set into the range I normally use for night time low light conditions, the aperture was set to either f8 or f11 depending on time of day and ambient light, and the shutter to 1/8000th of a second.

When you’re traveling in a late model Mercedes at about 70 miles per hour, westwards through Pennsylvania, you need to take steps to freeze the action for the camera.

More next week.


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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

September 23, 2022 at 11:00 am

sixth interest

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

More shots from the abandoned Glenwood Power Plant in New York States’ Yonkers municipality in today’s post. For details on the history of the NY Central Railroad, the power plant, etc., please refer to yesterday’s post which is chock full of links.

Very visually interesting place, which I was invited to visit by My Pal Val, who asked me to join in with a group of photographers she was organizing a visit for. We had an extremely limited amount of time at the plant, which was unfortunately in the early afternoon – the absolute worst time of day for photos (except in February).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan – thereby – was to treat the scene as I would if I was shooting there in low – or no – light conditions. To achieve this, I attached a ten stop ND filter. The tripod was deployed, but only extended up to full height a few times. Most of the time I kept it low to the ground, operating the camera through its swivel out touch screen. Depending on what I was shooting, my aperture was never lower than f8 or higher than f18. ISO ranges from 100-6400 are included in this series.

“Hey Mitch – what’s with all the talking shop these days?” “Tell me about the history of the Pulaski Bridge again.”

What can I tell you. I need to talk shop sometimes. About once every few months, I get an email from a younger photographer – college kids, mostly. They want to know how I do what I do. Sometimes they want to be introduced to the Creek, or the harbor, or whatever. A lot of times they ask me how to use their camera to get the sort of shots I routinely churn out for Newtown Pentacle and other sites.

“Show up, do the work, don’t get hurt, go home” is the first speech I offer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve got a whole other set of speeches ready for them about how to stay as safe as you can when moving around on the street, which I call “how you look to others on the street, and keep moving at all times.” There’s the whole “don’t cross industrial driveways without looking” and the “why would you stand on that slippery rock if you’ve got a zoom lens and it’s safer two feet away” which is followed by the “how, exactly, would you describe to the 911 operator where you are right now” one. They all like these speeches, I tell them well and with great flourish. I also ask them “what is it a picture of.”

I also try to pass on some of what I’ve learned about marching around NYC with a camera. Especially given the conditions in which one such as myself usually works. A lot of the craft, as I’ve purposed it, involves being hyper aware of my surroundings while allowing the camera to record the scene in some intentional manner while I keep an eye out for bad actors and danger.

Come with, the next time it’s a hundred degrees at midnight or no degrees at dawn, and join me at the Maspeth Plank Road or at Dutch Kills? I’ll tell you all about camera settings and how to get the scene, based on long experience. You’ll also possibly encounter what can only be described as “creepy ass muthaflowers.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Anyway, that’s “what” with talking about that.

As mentioned yesterday, there are two buildings at the Glenwood Power Plant that we received access to. The first one, in yesterday’s post, was the generator building. The ones in today and tomorrow’s post are from the furnace and boiler building. This was a coal fired power plant, incidentally.

As a note, there were fishies swimming around in that puddle of water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was a section of the roof which was unstable and we were gathered into a safe area beyond it for a few last shots of this section of the building.

It was time for the last leg of the excursion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking south out the boiler and furnace building’s window along the Hudson River, with Manhattan on the horizon. Just for a sense of place.

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

September 13, 2022 at 11:00 am

ten beings

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is a former power plant, found alongside the Glenwood stop of the modern day Metro North rail service, in Yonkers – the first City that you’ll encounter when heading north out of NYC. The plant was built in 1907, when the NY Central Railroad was electrifying its system both in and into Manhattan. My pal Val had arranged for a small group of photographers to enjoy guided access to the site for a couple of hours. This building was abandoned in the early 1970’s, and has sat feral for the last fifty years or so.

This is an extremely well documented site, one which has been drawing in the “urban explorer” crowd for literally generations. Here’s a 2021 article from “Yonkers Times” discussing its current status, a Wikipedia page for “just the facts,” a 2014 NY Times report is here, and the views and plans of the current owners of the property can be examined at their website.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As a note, my methodology for this sort of excursion is often thwarted as you just have to make the best of being on what’s essentially a walking tour. There were several other people shooting at the same time, which adds challenges as you need to dodge their POV’s, and the occasional accidental swing of a tripod leg or something.

People…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are two main structures on the site, one is the building where the generator and battery rooms were housed, the other is where the coal furnaces and the boilers were located.

Our guide confirmed to me that the terra-cotta adorning the entryway into the generator building was – indeed – the product of the New York TerraCotta Works in Long Island City. Check out that old timey NY Central logo on the door lintel’s cornice piece.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The generator room is pictured above, and as you’d imagine – those graffiti covered machines soon became a focus point for every lens in the room. I’ve looked around a bit since getting back from this trip, and it’s appears to me that every photographer with an interest in post industrial ruination has accomplished something very similar to the shot and composition I took above.

Methodology wise, I like to be able to learn a bit about a site. The photos in today and tomorrow’s posts are essentially scouting. I’d like to be in here at night with an extremely diffuse set of light sources. I’d also want to be inside this room in the extremely early morning AND at dusk. Dusk and heavy fog… hey now!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, methodology wise, I’ve got a whole bag of tricks learned over the last fifteen years, along that shining ribbon of municipal neglect that provides a 3.8 miles long and currently undefended border for Brooklyn and Queens – the fabulous Newtown Creek.

My plan for these photos – which involved a one time opportunity at the subject – was to go “low and slow.” Unfortunately, neither time of day nor atmospheric humidity were on my side. An uncomfortably humid day would have created an absolutely visible miasma, but this was the day after a heat wave broke and it was unusually dry as a result.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By “low and slow” I mean that the camera was on a tripod and seldom placed any higher than waste level. I affixed an ND filter to one of my zoom lenses, and either treated the image like a “night shot” with high ISO and longish shutter speed, or went full landscape mode with a 30 second long shot. I did some “exposure stacking” for a couple of these, most successfully in the shot directly above this one. That’s three exposures, each metered for and focused onto a different part of the image. In Photoshop, you can “blend” the three images together automatically.

Like a lot of things “digital,” once you conceptualize what’s actually happening when you tell an application to do something, the process can then be taken advantage of and guided. In the case of focus and or exposure stacking, it can get pretty exciting – results wise – if it’s subtle enough.


“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

September 12, 2022 at 11:00 am

nerve specialist

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking this last week of summer off from narrating humbly, so single shots from past adventures are on offer. I’m out and about all week, if my plans work out, and will be back with fresh views of a City that doth not sleep after Labor Day.

That’s a United States Coast Guard ship pictured above, nosing into a pier on the Hudson River at some event I was attending a few years ago. A group of VIP’s were invited onboard.

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, August 31st. 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

September 1, 2020 at 11:00 am

shrewd guessing

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It’s National Cream Filled Donut Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the Labor Day weekend, on September the 3rd to be exact, our Working Harbor Committee presented the 25th Annual Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition on the Hudson River. It was raining at a pretty good clip, which kind of sucked, but… tugboat race. I mean… tugboat race.

That’s a brand new tug above, the Capt. Brian A. McAllister.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is usual for the tug race (this is my seventh or eighth time photographing the event), I was onboard the “official” race boat, but due to the inclement weather and a variety of other conditions, one wasn’t in the best place to shoot the actual race this year. Normally, I like having Manhattan in the background, looking northwards across the competition. Construction barges and other maritime impediments forced the race to occur in the west channel of the river this year, so all you got for background is New Jersey.

No offense to New Jersey is intended, of course, but y’all haven’t got an Empire State Building on your side. It seems nice over there though.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My favorite part of the Tug Race, from a photographic perspective, has always been the line toss competition. That’s Donjon towing’s Mary Alice Tug in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This rope was a thrown from a tug based at Millers Landing, the Susan Mller.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Mister T tug also gave it a go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This one was hurled by a crewman of the tug James William.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura – Saturday, September 23rd, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Join us on the wrong side of the tracks for an exploration of the hidden industrial heartlands of Brooklyn and Queens, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 14, 2017 at 11:00 am

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