The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘night

darkly probable

with 2 comments

Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot of that Eagle Electric building in Queens Plaza which was described in yesterday’s post, with an IRT Flushing line 7 train navigating the trackways of the elevated steel high above the street behind it. As a note, if you want to receive a series of puzzled or worried looks from passerby, set up a tripod in Queens Plaza at night.

It really grabs people’s attention, the camera and tripod. Passing citizenry didn’t seem to focus on the guy taking a poop in the plantings alongside the bridge just down the block, but me they notice. “What are you taking pictures of” I get asked regularly. I point in the direction of whatever the camera is pointed at and say “that.” “Why” is usually the next question. I ask myself this all the time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cannot explain the process, even to myself. Sometimes there’s a plan – get a shot of this or that from here or from there. Try to tell the story with a single static image. Try to get that image “accurate” to what it looked like with the naked eye, or just outside of naked eye range with entering the “uncanny valley.”

There’s so many things to worry about, beyond the dozen or so intricate camera settings and using the right gear. Look over your shoulder constantly, keep an eye out for fast moving cars, trucks, bicycles. Watch out for the focused attentions of malign members of the street community as well. Get your shot, move out. It’s not just point and shoot at night, there’s a whole deal you have to sweat and worry about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the landmarked Bank of Manhattan building, at Queens Plaza, in the foreground of the shot above. Formerly the tallest building in Queens, these days it’s a dwarf compared to its neighbors. Directly behind it is the still under construction Durst Organization’s new residential tower, a 755 foot tall building they call Queens Plaza Park or “SVEN,” which is a product of the 2001 rezoning of LIC. Gargantuan, I’m told the new building will have an infinity pool on its roof. “I would love to be able to swim in Queens Plaza,” nobody has ever said.

The Bank of Manhattan building, alternatively, is a 1927 11 story building with a 3 story clock tower at its apex. The Bank of Manhattan later rebranded itself as Chase, and the building was occupied by that company until 1984 when the building was sold.

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 9th. 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

November 11, 2020 at 11:00 am

drowsily discussed

leave a comment »

Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another night, another walk around Western Queens, in this case – the western side of Queens Plaza. Recently announced, a new real estate development project will see the old Eagle Electric factory on 23rd street demolished and replaced by what promises to be another uninspiring glass rhombus. The plan is for this to be office space. Read the room, guys. Pandemic, much?

Regardless of the avarice and intent of the carpetbaggers, one nevertheless decided to visit the spot and record the scene for posterity or whatever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I got lucky, inasmuch as having just set up the tripod for a longish exposure, the journey of two 7 line IRT Flushing subway trains coincided on the elevated steel which carries them to and from Queens Plaza. I wonder what kind of sound proofing that new office building they’re going to replace the Eagle Electric factory with is going to require. This passage was and is LOUD. Like hear it through your headphones while you’re listening to the Ramones LOUD. Like completely drowning out the Ramones kind of loud. Loud.

Eagle Electric, btw, was founded in 1920 by two brothers from the Ludwig family (Louis and Phillip) and their kids inherited and held the business for much of the 20th century. Eagle manufactured switches, sockets, and other electrical ephemera in Long Island City until the 1980’s. Eagle began vacating and selling off its LIC premises in 1980, and in the year 2000 the company was sold off to a conglomerate called Cooper Wiring Devices. In 2012, Cooper Wiring was purchased by another outfit called the Eaton Corporation and the Eagle line of products and patents is now marketed under their branding. Eagle Electric was famous for a huge neon sign adorning the roof of this building, which is also found right alongside the Queensboro Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A crew of street artist/graffiti writers penetrated into the building in the last year or two, and adorned nearly every window pane with colorful tags. Directly across the street is the former Silvercup bakery, whose own neon signage still persists. The old bakery is now a movie studio and production offices complex.

I’ve long been fascinated with the garish illumination of this corner, with colorful light scattering about from a thousand different sources.

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 9th. 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

November 10, 2020 at 11:00 am

leer evilly

leave a comment »

Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Prior to writing this post, a humble narrator trimmed his fingernails. It made me curious, so after a bit of investigation it turns out that your fingernails (which grow at a far more rapid rate than toe nails, according to medical science) advance from the cuticle at an average rate of some 0.14 inches a month. A quick bit of calculation thereby reveals that I’ve likely grown and discarded just under seven and half feet of fingernail over the five and change decades I’ve been alive. It also seems that nail clippings can serve as important biometric markers and a laboratory analysis of them can help to determine several things about your diet, current homeostasis, overall metabolism, and identifying any particular poison which you might be environmentally accumulating.

What can I tell you, I’m the curious type. Ever wonder about how many yards of hair you’ve chopped off over the years? Gallons of piss, pounds of poop, dollops of snot? I have. These are the sort of subjects I’ll often explore when walking the camera around in the dead of night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Biologic metrics are fascinating. Of late, I’ve been obsessed with the step counter app on my phone, which has supplied me with a series of benchmarks for how far and fast I’m moving about. On the particular night which these shots were gathered, for instance, in a roughly three hour interval, some 10,000 individual steps were recorded. That equates to about 4.7 miles, meaning I was scuttling along at roughly 1.5 miles per hour. That’s half of what’s considered to be average human walking speed, but don’t forget that I had to keep on stopping to obsessively capture pictures of the visual splendors presented by Western Queens.

This was one of my “short walks” incidentally, which I commit to at least twice a week. Long walks are 10-15 miles and take all damn night, also twice a week. I’ve got a very tidy “every other day kind of thing” going on these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Biometrics actually underlie a lot of the world, if you notice the details. There’s a universe of calculation that goes into the rise and run of staircases, for instance. Average servings in a restaurant, the size and shape of drinking glasses, even the amount of space allotted to an individual rider on the subway is calculated (MTA has told me that it’s one square horizontal meter, which is projected upwards as a two cubic meter box). All of these calculations are regionally specific, incidentally. European and American designers of public space have historically had to compensate for higher average body weights and size than their counterparts in South and East Asia. If you wear jeans with a waist size over 34 inches, I’m told you’re going to have a hard time buying clothes in Japan or Viet Nam.

I wish I had been saving all of those nail clippings over the years, just to be prepared for any possibility of a Ragnarok situation involving flooding, as I’d have a personal Naglfar to float away from trouble.

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 9th. 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

November 9, 2020 at 11:00 am

torturing appliances

with one comment

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

hastily filling

with 3 comments

Back in session.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has enjoyed his self allotted time off, if you’re the curious type. Given the tropical clime and frequent rainstorms, the last two weeks haven’t exactly been a wonderland of joy, but evening hours when the temperatures were a bit more tolerable were exploited. During these nocturnal scuttlings around the various neighborhoods I keep an eye on, it was decided to severely limit the amount of “kit” one carried and utilized in my pursuits.

The normal “everyday carry” of heavy zoomable lenses, tripod, and all the other crap I normally drag around was left at HQ. Leaving the house, all I had on me were two prime lenses – a 24mm pancake lens and the 50mm “nifty fifty.” For camera support, I was carrying a gizmo called an “ultra pod,” which is a metal plate with a tripod head on it and four latex furniture caster feet. Beyond that, all I had on me was an air blower and a couple of lens cloths, a flash light, and a cable release. The camera bag weighed more than what was inside it. Perfect for roaming around on sultry August evenings, here in the Borough of Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the worst things you can tell any kind of artist is “do whatever you feel like.” Limitations are important, as that’s where challenge lies. The tyranny of the blank page has demolished the aspirations of many, whereas forcing oneself to write or draw or photograph within set limits is an invitation to “get creative.”

The cool thing about the ultrapod and the tiny and extremely light lenses I was using was that this setup forced me to slow down a bit and really put some thought into where the camera was placed, rather than just zooming in on a subject. Additionally, it put me back into the mental space I used to operate in back when I first got serious about shooting and was using a Canon G10 mounted on a magnetic tripod. My camera has been sitting on top of fireboxes, on the sidewalk, windowsills – you name it – for the last couple of weeks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, the one thing I was constantly wishing for during this particular two week long exercise was a more modern camera body with one of those neato keen flip out screens. Composing the shot above found a humble narrator lying prone and belly down onto the pavement on the corner of 38th street and Northern Blvd., which was kind of gross.

The Canon 7D is a champion camera body – tough, resistant to the constant physical and emotional abuse I inflict on it, and quite the omnivore as far as the number of common tasks it can handle ably. Saying that, I’m quite attracted to the new Canon mirrorless R series cameras, but everyone I know recommends getting a Sony A7 series with a third party adaptor for my lenses instead. This is all intellectual, of course, as a humble narrator doesn’t have two pennies to rub together. I’d need several hundred thousand rubbable pennies for a new camera.


“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 26, 2019 at 1:00 pm

%d bloggers like this: