The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘night shots

dreaded murmur

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy Thanksgiving week, which I’m taking off. Single image posts will greet you between now and Monday the 30th of November. I’ll be out taking pictures, in between dodging microbiotal clouds of expirant and looking over my shoulders for other sources of existential danger.

Today’s photo depicts the intersection of Steinway/39th st. (originally Harold Avenue) and Northern Boulevard (originally Jackson Avenue) one recent night, a crossroads right at the border of Astoria and Sunnyside.

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, November 23rd. 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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 27, 2020 at 11:00 am

cemented hillocks

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Today is World Food Day, on this hungry planet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As promised, here’s a few shots gathered on Friday the 13th at the Atlas Obscura “Into the Veil” event at Greenwood Cemetery. A friend I was showing them to on Friday asked me what the “night into day” technique I employed to capture these images entails other than long exposure times, and I tried to explain the exacting series of steps and settings which are employed, but by then he had fallen asleep. It’s complicated.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In a couple of instances, I hung a work light of the front of my tripod. The shot above is a fair representation of what was within the range of human vision. The moon was occluded on Friday by heavy cloud cover and atmospheric humidity was quite high, which is ruinous for this sort of shooting due to the scattering and consumption of light by airborne moisture.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The same setup, this time employing the whole checklist of “night into day” techniques which I’ve been working on. The difficult part of this, and why I’m stifled with the result, involves the sky – which isn’t blown out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

LED lighting continues to grow in popularity, but it provides a bugbear of problems for digital photography. LED lights are actually strobing hundreds of times a minute, and throwing out weird wavelengths of saturated color light which the camera sensor struggles to interpret. Notice the difference between the automotive brake light generated red streak on the hill and the unnaturally garish reds of the LED architectural light on the Steinway Chapel at Greenwood.

Just have to figure out how to conquer that one, as I don’t think LED’s are going away anytime soon.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 16, 2017 at 2:15 pm

last reserves

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s all so depressing, but at least I’m having a better time of it than one of the neighbors. He found himself carted off by the FDNY to the hospital the other night for reasons unknown to one such as myself.

A short post today, meant to spotlight what was an extremely difficult exposure and photographic capture to pull off, and all from the relative safety of my porch. It has been a VERY long time since I noodled a photo as much as this one. Worth it?

My neighbor seems to have pulled through, as I’ve seen him wandering around the neighborhood and wildly gesticulating at unrelated strangers since.


Remember that event in the fall which got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy?

The “Up the Creek” Magic Lantern Show presented by the Obscura Society NYC is back on at Observatory.

Click here or the image below for more information and tickets.


Written by Mitch Waxman

February 6, 2013 at 12:15 am

preliminary trials

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A project mentioned last month at this- your Newtown Pentacle, the attempt to gather a larger sampling of night shots, continues unabated. The effort has been aided in recent weeks by the presence of rental lens whose advanced design and capabilities allow usage of a wide aperture which nevertheless provides a startling level of hyper focal sharpness.

Unfortunately, my anemic finances preclude purchase of the magnificent device, at this time, but this would make a great permanent addition to my camera bag.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All of these shots were hand held, meaning that I just stood there in the twilight and gathering darkness bereft of tripod or other support. Additionally, they were not shot at a particularly high ISO or slow shutter speed. The lens in question is a Canon L series 70-200 II, if you’re wondering, which I rented in order to capture a series of hard to get images. was my choice for vendor on this one, and I will grieve when I have to send this beautiful thing back to them this week. It will be missed, sorely.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The current meme in photo circles is that “it’s not the gear”, but these are usually the same people walking around with a hasselblad medium format digital back and $20,000 lens who are saying it. Additionally, they’ll have a LEAF system back at the studio to remotely control camera and lighting, and proclaim that they love their iPhone camera for the “day to day” to all their interns and assistants.

Take it from me, you can take a great shot with an iPhone or “point and shoot” mini rig, but gear helps. Doesn’t have to be the most expensive gear (unlike this canon lens), but gear helps.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I just might start a kickstarter project, or find some other way to beg, to attempt the financing and purchase of this model. One of the big barriers to “doing my thing” and continuing the Newtown Pentacle long term has been financing, and it’s not just camera gear either. Getting from place to place often requires expenditures of cash which I just don’t have, and the canon lenses that allow shots like the one above are pretty darned expensive.

I also burn through sneakers faster than anyone I know.


June 16th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Dutch Kills walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Newtown Creek Alliance has asked that, in my official capacity as group historian, a tour be conducted on the 16th of June- a Saturday. This walk will follow the Dutch Kills tributary, and will include a couple of guest speakers from the Alliance itself, which will provide welcome relief for tour goers from listening to me rattle on about Michael Degnon, Patrick “Battle Ax” Gleason, and a bunch of bridges that no one has ever heard of.

for June 16th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

June 23rd, 2012- Atlas Obscura Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally- the “Obscura Day” Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills tour proved that the efficacy and charms of the Newtown Creek’s least known tributary, with its myriad points of interest, could cause a large group to overlook my various inadequacies and failings. The folks at Atlas Obscura, which is a fantastic website worthy of your attentions (btw), have asked me to repeat the tour on the 23rd of June- also a Saturday.

for June 23rd tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

June 30th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My various interests out on the sixth borough, NY Harbor, have brought me into association with the Working Harbor Committee. A member of the group’s Steering Committee- I also serve as the “official” group photographer, am chairman and principal narrator of their annual Newtown Creek Boat Tour, and occasionally speak on the microphone during other tours (mainly the Brooklyn one). This year, the group has branched out into terrestrial explorations to compliment the intense and extant schedule of boat tours, and I’m going to be leading a Kill Van Kull walking tour that should be a lot of fun.

The Kill Van Kull, or tugboat alley as its known to we harbor rats, is a tidal strait that defines the border of Staten Island and New Jersey. A busy and highly industrialized waterfront, Working Harbor’s popular “Hidden Harbor – Newark Bay” boat tours provide water access to the Kill, but what is it like on the landward side?

Starting at the St. George Staten Island Ferry terminal, join WHC Steering Committee member Mitch Waxman for a walk up the Kill Van Kull via Staten Islands Richmond Terrace. You’ll encounter unrivaled views of the maritime traffic on the Kill itself, as well as the hidden past of the maritime communities which line it’s shores. Surprising and historic neighborhoods, an abandoned railway, and tales of prohibition era bootleggers await.

The tour will start at 11, sharp, and you must be on (at least) the 10:30 AM Staten Island Ferry to meet the group at St. George. Again, plan for transportation changes and unexpected weirdness to be revealed to you at

For June 30th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

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