The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘moon

finally shunned

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It’s National Water Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing my week of presenting photos of non horrible subjects, today here’s a few shots of the moon. One will state this unequivocally – getting an ok shot of the moon is hard. The thing is moving across the sky a lot faster than you think it is, and from an exposure triangle point of view – it’s about half as bright as the sun and set against a background that’s darker than Satan’s beard. You need to account for the rotation of the earth, as well as the orbital pathway which the satellite itself is racing through. Then… you’ve also got the issue of trying to fill the frame.

I like a challenge, of course, but lining up all the gear you need to accomplish the shot (tripods, lenses etc.) and doing the exposure math first is a real bugger. It ain’t exactly “click” and then I got it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The moon without environmental context is challenging, and if you’ve got it once you’ve pretty much conquered that mountain. Setting exposure for the moon posed against the landscape is another bannana entirely. The “proper” way to do it, and the manner in which a lot of those shots you see from Jersey City showing the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan skyline with a perfect looking moon and sky behind them is basically “exposure stacking,” meaning you do two or more shots and then combine them in photoshop. It’s a variation of the technique which is used for product and macro shots where you move the point of focus around in the frame across multiple exposures to compensate for depth of field blurriness and then combine them into one super sharp image.

Without exposure stacking, you get something like what you see above, with the moon taking on the appearance of a dim midnight sun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Getting the moon’s aura is one of the hardest things to capture, at least for me. The light frequencies of the aura are operating at the very edge of human visual perception as it is, and you need to catch just the right weather conditions for it to be visible to the camera. Were the moon static… you’d be able to just do a long exposure and institute the exposure stacking technique, but with my equipment catalog there’s just a few seconds available to me before the motion of the planet and the satellite “smears” the shot.

There’s a relationship – mathematically – between focal length, aperture, and sensor size. If you were to google the term “astrophotography” you’d find that it’s quite a speciality and there’s all sorts of techniques and specialized gear involved. Intriguingly, there’s actually mechanical tripod heads which can track the movement of your celestial target and keep the camera aimed at it, but that’s not the sort of thing I can justify investing time and treasure in.

As it turns out, in the midst of writing this post, a nicely written and quite descriptive piece – discussing astrophotography related technical matters, techniques, and device settings – from lonelyspeck.com, appeared in one of my RSS feeds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If anyone reading this is interested in diving into trying to photograph the night sky, and you’re on the eastern coast of North America or in particular New York City, the disadvantages are both anthropogenic and naturally generated environmental in nature. “Dark sky” as it’s known, doesn’t exist here due to light pollution. There’s all sorts of vibration in the ground from traffic and subways, and the oceanic influence on the air means that there’s always a certain amount of humidity creating atmospheric diffusion. The best nights for shooting the moon in NYC are the worst ones to be outside – when it’s wicked cold and utterly clear.

You’ll need a “bright lens” and a sturdy tripod, and I’d recommend a shutter release cable of some kind so you don’t have to touch the camera which causes shake and vibration. Additionally, autofocus should be avoided, do it manually. The moon isn’t terribly contrasted, color wise, and your camera’s autofocus will just hunt back and forth seeking something to lock onto.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 22, 2017 at 1:00 pm

khephrens gateway

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Shooting for the moon, in Astoria, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like everyone else in North America, a humble narrator was up on the roof the other night getting shots of the supermoon/lunar eclipse.

My experience was somewhat less than salubrious, due to the fact that the restaurant on the first floor of the building I live in was still open and their exhaust system operating. This equipment created a constant vibration in the concrete surface of the roof, which is ruinous for long lens shots. Pictured above, a view of the moonlight drenched Shining City as seen from Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The actual eclipse itself, a so called “blood moon.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking east from my vantage, and through a flight path leading to LaGuardia airport.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The moon as the eclipse was still forming up, moving towards penumbra.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A vertical shot looking eastward along Broadway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As long as I was up there, one last shot of the shining city. In an ideal world, the eclipse would have happened later in the night, when the moon was stationed above Manhattan.

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Upcoming Tours –

October 3rd, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm

typical denizen

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Beneath the sodium light of a salty moon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Today, in 1881, the bleeding heart Russian author Dostoyevsky died from a triad of pulmonary hemorrhages. In 1913, a mysterious series of fireballs streaked across a 7,000 mile long patch of the night sky, which scientific opinion described as the break up of a previously unobserved natural Earth satellite – a tiny moon. It’s also Ash Monday, aka “Clean Monday,” which kicks off the liturgical calendar for Easter in certain variants of Christianity. Queensicans rejoice on February 9th, for on this day in 1956 – Mookie Wilson entered this world.

For me, it’s just Monday. I hate Mondays.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whenever it has been possible, as the weather has been decidedly antibiotic, one has engaged in the usual pursuit of hidden knowledge around the dustier sections of North Brooklyn and Western Queens. Most of the aforementioned objects of my interest have been a bit better hidden than usual, given the blanket of snow and ice which occludes the pavement. Luckily, the Real Estate Industrial Complex is at work in Greenpoint converting the toxic East River shoreline of that ancient village into a residential zone. A protective wall of condominiums will rise, ones so stout that they can protect neighborhood streets from fire and flood alike.

A few of them will be residential transformers, I imagine, able to turn into giant robots who will defend Greenpoint and Stuyvesant town against an attack. They will be known as CondoBots. That earth mover you see in the shot above? Yep, that’s a small one, and it calls itself Payloader.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The latest bit of hidden knowledge I’m working on, incidentally, is figuring out where all the hidden or filled in tributaries of Newtown Creek are or were. One branch of Maspeth Creek used to terminate at the locus of 58’s – avenue, street, road – nearby the Clinton or Goodfellas Diner. Under the Kosciuszko Bridge, on the Queens side, there was a largish tributary that flowed south out of the heights of Sunnyside, and ran between Laurel and Berlin Hills on its path to Newtown Creek. It’s “map work” and since I have zero budget for acquiring facsimiles of historical plottings, quite difficult and slow going. Headway has been made, however, and all will be revealed soon enough.

It’s all so depressing, really. Look at what happened to Dostoyevsky, who died of a bleeding heart.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

suffocating crawl

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Moon crazed scenery in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, the swelter and perspiration choked season of summer has ended, as signaled by the appearance of the eye of Hecate in the eastern sky. One such as myself normally enjoys the summer, but the season just passed in 2013 bore more than a passing verisimilitude to tropical climes, weather which produced naught but dripping perspiration and dangerous levels of ennui. The filthy black raincoat has left the closet and hangs upon a hook awaiting a return to duty and its winter campaign. Finally, it is spooky time once again, in the Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Diana is best appreciated when she hangs over the water, say I, lending her bluish glowings to the inky waves of NY Harbor. That glow is the reflected magnificence of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, of course, which travels through weird wavelengths on its journey to the water. My little dog Zuzu is often in an odd psychological state during this time of the month. The moon provides a psychological menses for the canine race, during which they are prone to nervous barking and short tempers. Perhaps the keen sensory prowess for which Zuzu’s kind are renowned are cogent enough to realize that which we can or choose not to witness, and that the dogs know something about the planetoid which we dross primates cannot discern.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Selene herself appeared before me recently, her position in the sky during the autumn months is complimentary to the position of Newtown Pentacle HQ upon the earth, and one decided to break out the whole kit and kaboodle to capture her likeness. Using one of my worst (albeit “longest”) lenses, whose already spotty resolution was further degraded by the use of a “teleconverter”, I managed to pull the shot above off somehow. This was a tripod shot, which is a necessity when attempting anything involving the night sky with a somewhat telescopic lens attached. I set the camera to f18, iso 100, and left the shutter open for nearly a full second. The moon is nearly as bright as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, despite appearances to the human eye, and it is quite a challenge to capture in a fashion acceptable for one such as myself.

Upcoming Tours

Saturday- September 28, 2013
Newtown Creek Boat Tour with the Working Harbor Committee- tickets on sale now.

Saturday – October 19, 2013
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale soon.

Sunday- October 20th, 2013
The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek with Brooklyn Brainery- tickets on sale now

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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 24, 2013 at 12:59 pm

gibbous glow

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since Hurricane Sandy and the accompanying storm surge were made a few degrees worse by the full moon and it’s accompanying tidal forces, it occurred to me that in addition to having somehow pissed off Poseidon- New York might have angered a lunar deity as well. There are lords of the sea, and lords of the sky, after all.

from wikipedia

The pregnancy of Coatlicue, the maternal Earth deity, made her other children embarrassed, including her oldest daughter Coyolxauhqui. As she swept the temple, a few hummingbird feathers fell into her chest. Coatlicue’s child, Huitzilopochtli, sprang from her womb in full war armor and killed Coyolxauhqui, along with their 400 brothers and sisters. He cut off her limbs, then tossed her head into the sky where it became the moon, so that his mother would be comforted in seeing her daughter in the sky every night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

More often than not, the moon is represented by a goddess in the west, which ties the waxing and waning of the Earth’s anomalous astronomic companion to the female cycle of menses. In the near and far east, the moon was interpreted somewhat differently.

from wikipedia

In Cook Islands mythology, specifically of the Hervey Islands, Avatea also known as Vatea (meaning ‘bright’) was a lunar deity and the father of gods and men in Mangaian myth of origin.

According to one myth, Vari-Ma-Te-Takere (The primordial mother) created six children from her body. Three were plucked from her right side and three from her left. The first of which was Avatea, the first man, who was perceived as a moon god. As he grew he divided vertically into a hybrid being; the right half was a man and the left half a fish.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The pagan, as in historical pre Christian religious beliefs, would see the moon as a threatening and sinister celestial sign. This is a hold over from the old days of wicker kings and female priesthoods, of course, if you subscribe to the theories of Robert Graves. One would suggest that in the future, New York City take the lunar cycle a bit more seriously, lighting beeswax candles and offering appropriate ablutions.

from wikipedia

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Luna is the divine embodiment of the Moon (Latin luna; cf. English “lunar”). She is often presented as the female complement of the Sun (Sol) conceived of as a god. Luna is also sometimes represented as an aspect of the Roman triple goddess (diva triformis), along with Proserpina and Hecate. Luna is not always a distinct goddess, but sometimes rather an epithet that specializes a goddess, since both Diana and Juno are identified as moon goddesses.

In Roman art, Luna’s attributes are the crescent moon and the two-yoke chariot (biga). In the Carmen Saeculare, performed in 17 BC, Horace invokes her as the “two-horned queen of the stars” (siderum regina bicornis), bidding her to listen to the girls singing as Apollo listens to the boys.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 10, 2012 at 2:34 pm

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