The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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peeking through

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Minimalist Wednesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post are decidedly citrus in flavor. During the cold weather months, I’ll often set up a table top studio in my kitchen and experiment with various gizmos and time consuming techniques. In the case of today’s post, citrus fruit is sliced with a razor blade with the goal of creating sections that are about a centimeter thick. I set the slices up on a petri dish, which is in turn affixed to a little stage. Under the stage is a fairly powerful flashgun, which blasts light through the cultivar revealing its hidden structures.

That’s a navel orange in the one above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The lemon one above is one of my favorites, since the light passing through it illuminates the ovum casing of the seeds.

The fruit slices end up operating as defacto light filters, I’ve discovered. The burst of flash lighting moving through the slices gets recorded on the camera sensor sans the opposite color frequency, as in the shot above which ended up with little or no representation on the blue plate of the rgb image. If you really want to get into the “nitty gritty” of how digital imaging works, a controlled environment with known parameters for color temperature and so on can really teach you a lot. Believe it or not, lessons learned while photographing centimeter thick slices of lemons in my kitchen informs and improves the underlying technique used to shoot a tugboat or bridge out in “the wild.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is under medical orders not to eat limes or grapefruits, due to a medication that is consumed daily, which regulates my blood cholesterol levels. It seems that the pill is essentially a refined and concentrated form of a compound found in both cultivars, and that consumption of the fruit might create a dangerous set of conditions in the liver. That’s sucks, as I really used to enjoy drinking a “Cuba Libre” cocktail every now and then.

I’m particularly fond of the shot above, as everything just went right with it.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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

November 13, 2019 at 11:00 am

Posted in Astoria

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serial distractions

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An extremely minimalist Wednesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The broken/bruised/severely injured toe drama continues around these parts. Despite the farked up phalange, I still managed to conduct a walking tour last night for Atlas Obscura, in the dark while it was raining, and I only fell down once. Pictured above is one of the “dolphins” protecting the piers of the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge spanning my beloved Newtown Creek.

I am obviously out of action this week, and had to cancel visiting a couple of cool spots which would otherwise be populating posts here at Newtown Pentacle this week and next. Hopefully I’ll be mobile again soon.

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 30, 2019 at 5:18 pm

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

sufficient period

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How minimalist are your Wednesdays, anyway?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Red Hand, or El Mano de Roja as my bagel guy Jose calls it, is pictured above. El Mano de Roja is my enemy, and is always forbidding from doing those things which I wish to do. The Red Hand is everywhere, a seemingly omnipresent and inescapable scold who works for the government. Freedom demands an end to the tyranny of the Red Hand. Freedom’s soil is best fertilized with the blood of tyrants, and blood is red – just like the hand. The Red Hand is part of the janitorial staff, at the house of tyranny and encroachment on individual freedoms.

What can I tell you, I’m an idiot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If a vampire was riding a bicycle past the hidden driveway on 39th street – or the Harold Avenue Truss Bridge over Sunnyside Yards if you must, which the traffic mirror above services – a trucker would never know they were there and would likely strike the cycling strigoi. Not sure if you can kill a Vampire with a mack truck, but I’m sure you could ruin its day with one. I’ve always wondered about the whole mirror thing with the Nosferatu, as in why do their clothes turn invisible too – reflection wise – but only when they’re wearing them. Shouldn’t you just see an empty suit and cape standing there reflected in the silvered glass? Is it the silver in the glass? What if the mirror is backed with some sort of plastic? If the proverbial cyclist vampire was crossing through the field of view of that mirror pictured above, would you just see the bicycle?

These are the sorts of things which keep me up at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Working for the same creeping tyranny group as the Red Hand, but in a different department, the adjure offered above indicates the presence of active rail. You’d probably notice this from the tracks splayed out on the ground, or the bells and flashy lights affixed to the movable barriers, or the dozens and dozens of box cars blocking the road – but some folks plainly refuse to notice the nose at the end of their face, so there you are.

If everything worked out as I planned it, as you’re reading this I’m onboard a boat with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, inspecting the Harbor of New York and New Jersey – specifically Port Elizabeth Newark. I’ll tell you all about that at the end of the week, hopefully.


“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 25, 2019 at 11:00 am

surprising sort

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Minimalist Wednesday, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s me on the sign above, or at least it is in my personal construct of reality. I’m on every corner in NYC, as is my arch enemy, whom I call “the Red Hand.” It’s been an interesting week with lots and lots of meetings and things to do, but at least I’ve been amongst people. They seemed nice.

Last night’s Community Board 1 meeting was largely procedural. The NYC Conflicts of Interest guy gave us a refresher course on how not to get prosecuted for corruption. He reminded us that we can only take bribes under $50 as Community Board members. It’s the most Queens thing in the world, by the way… not “don’t take bribes,” but instead “don’t take bribes over this amount.” Wonder what the price is set at for Elected Officials or District Managers. sigh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The protests at the EDC’s Sunnyside Yards meeting came up a couple of times, and a number of the more “institutional” players in Astoria were upset that the protestors had interfered with EDC’s narrative and presentation. I made the case to any that would listen that they were complaining about free speech and the exercise thereof. If the crowded theater you’re in is actually burning, you SHOULD shout “fire.” Also, you should do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to discourage the younger members of our society from expressing their dissatisfaction and anger by protesting.

The people complaining about it last night are probably cashing checks for $49.99 today at lunch. The bad actors acted, the annoying people annoyed, and it was long and drawn out nearly three hour meeting dealing with protocol and procedure. My head nearly fell off the back of my neck several times out of boredom. Luckily, I sit next to a pal of mine from the neighborhood who is another old school outer boroughs guy and we whispered wisecracks to each other all night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The procedural niceties of this CB thing are something I’m slowly learning. All these years, as an activist in Queens, my methodology has been to strike fast when opportunity presents. Grab the elected, their people, any other concerned parties and make a deal on the street to get a new green space or something rolling when the time is right. Bang, boom, bang. Advertising and comics industry new business techniques, learned at hundreds of cocktail parties over the decades. Sell, sell, sell.

This “Roberts Rules” stuff flies directly in the face of how things actually get done in Western Queens and North Brooklyn. Protocol? What?

Tonight, I’ll be at the Newtown Creek CAG meeting at PS 110 in Greenpoint on Monitor Street for an update on the Superfund situation. Afterwards, I’m going to return to the utility poles and engage in my eternal battle with the Red Hand.


“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 18, 2019 at 11:00 am

previously noticed

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Minimalist Wednesday is difficult.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Feature rich and cluttered is how I describe the visual environment that one dwells in. A gauntlet I’ve thrown down for myself is to produce three shots a week which aren’t long focal, do not depict some urban landscape in all of its complexity, and which are somewhat reductive in nature. This ain’t so simple in Queens.

As mentioned in Monday’s posting, a good way to stay interested in what you’re doing is to set a few rules and limitations for yourself, so in the tradition of Newtown Pentacle “series posts” like “Project Firebox,” “Maritime Saturday,” and so on – you’ve got “Minimalist Wednesday.” Something to do, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is an obvious solution tot he problem, optically speaking, which is to use a shallow depth of field aperture setting to isolate out an object from its background. The object above was a bit of heavy chain attached to a utility pole, but you get the idea. The shot above is cheating, imho.

What I’m looking for… man, I don’t know what I’m looking for but I know it when I see it. Or at least, I hope I will.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To wit, this little scenario encountered in Greenpoint. I have no idea what the purpose of this array might be, but that – that’s what I’m looking for.

Anyway, that’s Minimalist Wednesday for you.

This post is being written on Monday, btw, and as you’re reading this, I’m ostensibly down at the Kosciuszcko Bridge opening ceremonies and taking lots and lots of very complicated pictures involving the Governor. My plan is to get all of that to y’all in Friday’s post, as I’m sure that I’m coming back home with hundreds of pics from the K Bridge event(s).


“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

August 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

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