The Newtown Pentacle

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ostentatiously on

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few odds and ends today, including a shot above accomplished using some of my DIY made at home camera technology. That’s an office setup at one of the many auto dealerships found along Northern Blvd. here in Long Island City, one which I shot through a plate glass window. Reflections were cancelled out using an air conditioner foam insulator collar affixed to one of my lenses. Boo-yah!

I like it when my DIY stuff works.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A woman lives in that plastic cocoon pictured above. The cocoon is found along Northern Blvd. in LIC nearby another one of the many auto dealerships mentioned above. She’s the one who makes bird sounds, and then laughs in a manner which can only be described as “maniacal” whom I’ve mentioned in the past. What I mean by maniacal is the sort of laugh you’d expect an extra to offer in a “Hammer House of Horror” movie about Bedlam, a laugh which Peter Cushing’s character would ignore.

Before you ask, as I already have, she just wants to be left alone. Doesn’t want socks or “stuff” or access to services, just solitude to deal with whatever’s happening to her. Ok. She’s been here a couple of years, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Coming back into Astoria via Steinway Street, one encounters an automotive repair shop which often offers interesting insights into what could happen on the streets of New York City to an innocent motorist. On this particular evening, no spectacular wrecks were encountered but for some reason this towing truck with a hatchback on its bed caught my eye.

Back tomorrow.


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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 14, 2021 at 11:00 am

bodily visit

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last trio from Dutch Kills for today. What can I say, it’s either been horribly hot or raining for the last week. Gah, do I hate this time of year in NYC. If there was only mist or fog associated with NYC’s summer humidity… but it’s just a blue haze of murky ozone light in late August. If you’re curious, I was flipping through all of the lenses in my kit while at Dutch Kills this particular evening, and the one used for today’s post is the RF 24-105 f4 L.

Every lens seems to have its own color rendition, flaws and strengths, there’s even a difference in exposure in some cases. Science and optics, bro, science and optics.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since it was a lifetime ago, and a former variant of the current “me,” I seldom mention to people that I used to draw comic books. Saying that, the training in “storytelling” that revolves around that particular discipline of cartooning continues to come in handy, and informs the way I use the camera. Most photo people come to a scene and do “one and done,” whereas I’m gazing “up, down, all around” before I even click the shutter button, trying to figure out how to tell a story with it.

You need to do “establishing shots” which place the reader in a scene, followed by close ups and other angles, and a wrap up establishing shot. It’s better to have the singular composition which will be your “wow, look at that” photo accompanied by several companion shots from a storytelling point of view. Another concern which I try to shoot for is the unfortunate fact that a lot of my shots are going to end up having type set against them for presentations. That’s something else you learn from drawing comics – leave room for the speech balloons and sound fx. I mention this because today’s images are all establishing shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another incarnation of mine was the advertising industry production and photo retouching one. The comics never really paid the bills, and a boy has to eat. I’ve done Times Square billboards, specialized in publication specific print ads (there’s a 15 year period during which I had something printed in either the New York Times or Wall Street Journal every day), worked on early internet sites like Jaguar.com, and if you walked into a Footlocker to buy sneakers at the start of this century the big banners and other “POS” stuff hanging in the windows was probably something I had sent to the printer. Again – leave room to set type or a logo on the image but shoot it so that it still could stand on its own as a single image without copy. It was an incredibly dull work life, incidentally, and not remotely like Mad Men.

The current incarnation is the craziest life I’ve ever known, however.


“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, 2021 at 1:00 pm

strange tributes

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dutch Kills is a tributary of the fearsome Newtown Creek, a Federal Superfund site some 3.8 miles long that provides a border for the New York City Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens for the first three miles of its course. The waterway is polluted by industry and open sewers, and there’s a bed of sediment at the bottom composed of coal tar, petroleum derivates, human waste, and everything else that’s ever fallen into the water. This sediment is called “Black Mayonnaise.” The Dutch Kills tributary branches off of the main waterway about 3/4 of a mile from its intersection with the East River, flows entirely within the confines of Long Island City, and is about .7 – .8 of a mile long.

I’m obsessed with that little tree growing out from under a factory along the bulkheads. It’s a Tree of Paradise aka “Princess Tree,” I’m told.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All of those little streaks in the water, along the rotting bulkheads which I focused in on, are fishies. What you can hear at night, from all over this industrial canal, are the slaps and splashes of predator fish picking off these little bug eaters who gather around light sources. You can also hear passing ATV’s and muscle cars with modified exhaust systems, but that’s a different post.

I spent a bit of time hereabouts recently, waving the camera around and investigating what might be hiding in the shadows at Dutch Kills. As long time readers here at Newtown Pentacle will attest, a humble narrator is endlessly fascinated by this section of the greater Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Water fowl, these Canada Geese are dicks. All Canada Geese are dicks, and I’m racist towards them. Specist, actually, I guess. At the very least, I’m extremely prejudiced against them.

Wow, remember when there was a difference between prejudiced and racist, as in there was a level of severity for being an asshole to other people? I was having a conversation with a younger friend of mine about this lately, one which centered on how you bleed pressure out of a closed system. There’s different levels of murder, for instance – manslaughter, homicide, etc.

At any rate, the Canada Geese are ultimately downy piles of meat, and what I was doing at Dutch Kills on this warm night was searching for a carnivore which legends say hunt these waters. Looking for a hunter? Focus in on the prey.


“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 24, 2021 at 1:30 pm

mighty silence

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long Island City is one of those places where a constancy of tumult and change can be expected. It’s photographically interesting to me, and even though you’ve walked down either this block or that one a hundred times before I guarantee that there’s some feature or weird thing you probably haven’t noticed before. My pal Ms. Heather over in Greenpoint coined the term “street furniture” for finds like the one above.

As is often the case, one had to stand in the street to get this shot. As is also often the case, the minute I decided to step off the curb, traffic volumes on this particular street rose to downtown Manhattan 1960’s levels.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m always on the lookout for evidence of Mad Science or Supervillain lairs in Long Island City. High real estate valuations have priced most of the lesser villains out of LIC in recent years. You have to be a Luthor, or a Cobblepott or Osborne, to be able to afford mad sciencing here these days. Most of the lesser villains have moved their operations north, south, and east. Edward Nigma is out on Staten Island, as are Kraven the Hunter and the Crimson Dynamo. Word has it that Kiteman is now operating out of a split level ranch house in Bayonne. I wonder what villain is operating out of those repurposed shipping containers pictured above, making monsters.

I’d like to live in a world where getting bit by a radioactive spider doesn’t just give you blood poisoning and or cancer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I always remind people to respect the traffic in LIC, as even the traffic signs aren’t safe hereabouts. I always follow official instructions to the letter, so when the signage above points a certain way, I obey the edict. That’s why I ended up walking into a brick wall.

The brick wall didn’t give me super powers or anything, just scrapes and a bruise.


“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 20, 2021 at 11:00 am

once revolved

with 2 comments

je m’appelle Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, one has reactivated a formerly inactive and semi retired lens back into service. I won’t bore you with the technical details revolving around the camera, instead I’ll just say that this particular lens never performed terribly well on my old camera and it fell out of active rotation in favor of other devices. Saying that, it’s complimentary to the newer camera I’m now using so there you are.

These shots were gathered while hanging around Astoria, carousing and watching the other Queensicans go about their business. This is a telephoto lens, which allows me to get “up close and personal” from about a block away. Its biggest flaw on the RF system is that it’s a fairly “dark” lens, with a variable aperture.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “variable aperture” bit means that as you zoom in or out, its internal settings change. It’s f4-6.3 over the range, if you’re curious. One vastly prefers lenses which don’t do this, and the rest of my current kit doesn’t do variable, but that’s where they get you on price. At the moment, I don’t have any financial impetus to upgrade to a better lens for this particular function. Also, maybe it’s just me, but if you’re zoomed out to 300mm you really want to be working the image at narrow apertures to ensure sharpness.

For those of you who aren’t camera nerds – lenses with wide apertures like f1.8-f4 produce images with narrow focal planes but allow a lot of light into the camera. Think about portrait shots with blurry backgrounds for what that looks like. Narrower apertures produce more edge to edge sharpness, but restrict the amount of light entering the camera, necessitating longer exposure times and or higher ISO settings. Photographers, myself included, drool over bright lenses. Lens manufacturers price their wares accordingly, and – generally speaking – the brighter a lens is, the more expensive it is.

Telephoto lenses with wide apertures are ludicrously expensive, which is why you generally see them employed by Paparazzi, Sports, or Wedding photographers. I take pictures of junk yards and tugboats, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Where that narrow aperture really bites you in the tuchas is at night, or in any situation which isn’t “outside during the day.” The rest of my lens kit is very capable in low light conditions, and even at f1.8 I’ve been hitting tack sharp infinity focus with them. The 70-300 I’ve brought out of retirement isn’t really in the same league as these more modern lenses, and its color rendering requires a bit of adjustment and attention that the newer ones don’t need. Saying that, it’s already paid for, so win.

Speaking of winning… 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

August 3, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in Astoria, Queens

Tagged with , , ,

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