The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘N Line

all observant

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s all so depressing… shortly after cataloguing the dissection of the Dutch Kills shoreline, and other features in the immediate vicinity thereof, one hopped on the 7 train at the elevated Court Square station.

It was time to head home, and after spending a full early February day out and about, my energy was ebbing low.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The plan I had hatched involved taking the 7 to Queens Plaza, and then hopping aboard an N or W train to Astoria, whereupon a short walk to a local pizzeria would result in me walking into HQ and greeting Our Lady of the Pentacle – with a triumphant couple of slices in hand.

The MTA, though… their game is strong.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The frequency of the 7 line is pretty fantastic these days, since they’ve completed the decades long CBTC signals replacement project. It really does come every 5-10 minutes, the 7.

Unfortunately, the gold badged Broadway line trains – R, N, W – never received an upgrade to their signals, and especially so in midtown Manhattan, where it is desperately needed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The signals upgrade allows for precise control of train set positioning and line wide coordination. This allows the trains to be run much closer together than using the old 1920’s style system, and allows for better “transit saturation.”

Over in the Shining City, there are several choke points for Queens bound trains – notably at the tracks leading into 34th/Herald Square and 42nd Times Square, and at the approaches to the Steinway and 63rd st. tunnels under Columbus Circle. If ANYTHING goes wrong at any single one of those points, EVERYTHING goes wrong with all three lines – as well as affecting the M, and the E, and the F lines. This triggers a meltdown in the system that can ripple from Manhattan all the way back to Brooklyn and Queens within minutes.

The Q, which formerly was part of the Astoria line, is now Manhattan only and running on the Second Avenue Subway tracks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After about twenty minutes of standing on the platform at Queens Plaza, I got bored and started waving the camera around.

What is it with the new people in the luxury condos and their lack of drapery, window coverings, or Venetian Blinds?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After about a half hour, during which I was dreaming of pizza, the N finally arrived.

It was long day, and there were lots of photos that needed developing when I got back to HQ.

More tomorrow.


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“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.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 31, 2022 at 11:00 am

oppression waned

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whew, what a couple of weeks. One has walked or ridden a boat into 4 of the 5 Boroughs, including… Staten Island… in the last 14 days. I’ve been in Astoria, Long Island City, Bushwick, Greenpoint, East Williamsburg, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Manhattan’s Financial District and Lower East Side, and St. George. This whole spate of activity got started a couple of weeks ago in LIC when I had to meet up with a couple of Newtown Creek Alliance interns to teach them a couple of things about my beloved Creek. Good news is that most of this travel has occurred on boats, specifically on ferry boats.

The shot above is from the sidewalk of Borden Avenue, alongside the Long Island Railroad’s moderately ancient Hunters Point Rail Yard. The current facility is the ninth iteration of a rail yard on this spot. Once, there was a gigantic glass and steel train shed here, and there were turntables that allowed rail engines to reorient themselves from one track to another.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Some of my travels have involved hopping on the subway. A humble narrator found himself at Queens Plaza just as a 7 line train was entering the Manhattan bound lower level tracks at the elevated MTA complex.

Just in the name of decrying how bad the management is at the redoubtable MTA… so, they had 16 months where basically nobody was riding the trains. During that interval, which you’d imagine as being a golden opportunity to perform upgrades and maintenance, they complained about declining fare revenues and an uptick in crime. Give us more money, they said, and the Feds bailed them out. Now, with the City reopening and everybody trying to get back to normal, just this last weekend they started doing signal upgrades to the Culver line. The F was running on the D, the D on the F, and R service was completely turned off in Astoria. Instruction was to take the 7 to Jackson Heights, and then transfer to the E, which was stopping in seemingly random places – none of which were where I was going.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was gathered by shooting through the dirty window of a N train bound for Queens Plaza. One day it will happen – I’ll be on an N train which doesn’t look it was parked under a flock of seagulls and it will have clean windows offering a crystal clear view of the scene above.

Frustrating, the MTA is. That’s also a good sign of some sort of return to normalcy. How do you bring people together in our politically divided culture? Answer is: our common hatred of MTA management.

Speaking of getting back to normal… what are you doing on August 7th? I’ll be conducting a WALKING TOUR OF LONG ISLAND CITY with my pal Geoff Cobb. Details and ticketing available here. Come with?


“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 26, 2021 at 11:00 am

lambent nimbuses

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since I’m all vaxxed up, riding the subways is something I can do again. I’ve been seriously pursuing an “iconic” shot of the IRT Flushing Line entering Queens Plaza with the sun setting behind it. The shot above isn’t it, rather it’s part of a series of similar shots which I’m going to keep on cracking away at until I get the magic one. One of the features which drew me into adopting the new camera – Canon EOS R6 – was a fairly revolutionary set of autofocus technologies baked into the thing. Saying that, during the pandemic months, I didn’t use “face and eye” or “subject tracking” at all since almost everything I was pointing the lens at was static.

Subject tracking, which is what I’m using while pursuing my “iconic” shot, allows me to tell the camera to focus on a certain thing and then the electronics onboard will follow that object through the frame while constantly adjusting focus as it moves. It also looks for human faces in frame and ensures they are in focus as well. There’s a lot of nuance to how this works, which has been fun to learn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve always considered the MTA Subway system to be an excellent workshop for photographers to figure their devices out. You’ve got all of these “worst case scenarios” going on. Shiny metallic objects moving at a decent clip through badly lit spaces, lots of harsh contrast, random behavioral offerings from the ridership.

Something I started doing a few years ago involves walking somewhere distant and then hopping on the train to get back home. That divides my photowalk time up and keeps things interesting. On the particular night these shots were gathered, I had scuttled over to LIC and visited Dutch Kills and then jumped onto the 7 at Hunters Point Avenue pursuing a connection to the Astoria line trains at Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Subsequently, last week I left the house and my answer to Our Lady of the Pentacle’s query as to where I was heading towards was “I’m feeling lazy so I’m just going to go ride the elevated subways for a bit and take some pics.”

The only issue I can report to y’all about the new autofocus system is that I am tending to overshoot while using it. I’ll burst out fifty shots of a train entering or leaving the station when all I need is one. That slows me down on the developing side of the operation, since I’ve got to pick just one.

Saying that, it’s bloody fantastic to be able to use the Transit System again. Now, if I only had some place to go…


“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

May 21, 2021 at 1:00 pm

torturing appliances

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Why are you people always sleeping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sometimes, a humble narrator suffers from insomnia, so what’s a man to do but pack up the camera and wander around the streets in the middle of the night until he’s tired enough to fall asleep? Recently, one left the house at 4 a.m. on a Monday morning. It was the first time in a couple of months that I was carrying the “whole magilla” with me, as in the largish knapsack filled with camera lenses and all the other junk which one likes to have available when out and about. For the last couple of months, due to the broken toe you’re all so sick of hearing about, I’ve been traveling as light as possible. Now that the medically advised “take it easy” period is over, one is rattling the bars of his cage and is ready to go.

Funny thing is that I barely used all the crap I had with me, but I knew that when leaving the house. Wanted to see how my foot reacted to carrying the extra load on my back, and also start the process of getting back some muscle tone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My eventual destination was the BH camera shop on 34th street, so by leaving five hours earlier than they open, even the MTA wouldn’t be able to hamper my progress. One shlepped down Broadway through the urine and vomit puddles (the bars had just closed) towards the Astoria line tracks in expectation of riding an N or W into Manhattan, but while waiting for my chariot to arrive, I was puzzled at the presence of a J train sitting – seemingly abandoned – on the center track. I know, the J line icon in the shot above is all glowed out and unreadable. It was a J, here’s another shot of it which I executed in a different fashion.

Most of the people I saw waiting at the station seemed to be construction workers and people wearing security guard uniforms, which answers the question about who is taking the Subway from Astoria into the city in the wee hours. Them, and a wandering mendicant with a camera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I transferred at Queensboro Plaza to the 7, which was just entering the station as I debarked the N. That’s the first missed shot of the night, and there were a few. One can not explain the logic behind a certain thought process, but sometimes a “little bird” starts singing to me about either not lingering someplace or just coming back another time. Call it “Spidey Sense” but… something was just telling me to go and not wait for the next 7. Over the years I’ve learned to listen to that voice in my head, and ignore the other ones. I actually didn’t have my headphones stuck in my ears all night, due to my desire to maintain “situational awareness” while shooting. Also, I had Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” playing in my head. A little paranoia is a good thing, in the dark of night. So’s a little Rush “ear worm,” every now and then.

New York City, folks, New York City. Pay attention to what’s going on around you.


“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 30, 2019 at 11:00 am

correlated little

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Rounding the week out with the trains

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is just about done with 2019 here, as I imagine most of you are. It hasn’t been a great year, but there you are. As my old man used to say, if you’re able to complain about it you’re still alive so there isn’t that much to complain about. He’d then indicate that I was probably bored if I had time to complain and offered to fill my time with some chore. Nobody has wished me a Fun Festivus (which is Monday the 23rd, btw) at any of the holiday parties I attended, which I’m upset about. It’s good though, as I’m a little “partied out” at this point in time, and don’t have the bandwidth to gather around the aluminum pole and air my grievances this year.

What can I say, I’ve always been a grumpy loner, now I’m a grumpy old man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Where am I going next? It’s an existential question I keep asking myself, and the answer is ultimately “where the world takes me.” One of the bits of sage wisdom this grumpy old man can offer is to not try to force things into happening. Paradoxically, I’ll also offer that the world only makes sense when you force it to do so.

To put it into mundane analogical terminology – it makes no sense to lean over the platform edge looking for the subway, as it won’t force the subway to appear. The train is going to get there when it gets there. Making good use of your “dwell time” in the station (as MTA refers to it) is forcing the world to make sense somehow. In my case, that means taking a lot of photos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent encounter, which wasn’t the particular moment I was shooting this set of photos, involved the “what and why are you taking pictures of” trope down in one of the sweating concrete bunkers under Manhattan. This encounter wasn’t with law enforcement, members of which I had a couple of notable “in the field” conversations with in 2019, it was just some fellow commuter. I explained my activities to this particular petitioner by asking if she ever saw any of those cool old photos of NYC depicting subways or trolleys in BW photos from the 1930’s or 40’s on her Facebook feed. When she responded yes, I said “I’m the one whose photos your grandkids will be looking at.” She chuckled.

On that note, the 2020’s are coming and I plan on doing a lot of roaring in the next decade.


“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 20, 2019 at 2:30 pm

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