The Newtown Pentacle

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portentous meanings

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself at the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road site recently, attending and photographing a Newtown Creek Alliance cleanup event that occurred on a lovely Saturday afternoon. One of the property owners nearby this site has recently been compelled to do some remodeling of their shoreline. I’ve known about this for a bit, but given that I’m usually here either at sunset or after dark, haven’t explored the new situation.

It’s not a good idea to be poking around in the bushes after dark in Industrial Maspeth, and especially so if you’re on foot and alone. Given that NCA had a fairly large group here, scooping garbage and debris off of the shoreline, I figured “why not?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shoreline in this spot has been fairly impassable during my years at Newtown Creek, and largely ignored by the industrial operation which worked busily on the other side of a large concrete and steel fence. An artist I know had briefly set up a small structure back here which he used as a hangout and ad hoc painting studio. That structure had been taken over by some mendicant in the last year or two. Artist, structure, and mendicant are all gone now and there’s all sorts of geographically appropriate plantings here now.

This is where I got into the fight with a raccoon back in 2020, during which I had to poke at the thing with my tripod.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the mouth of English Kills, the Newtown Creek tributary that flows all the way back to Johnson Avenue in Bushwick. It’s also where water quality along the Creek sharply drops off. If you think Newtown Creek is bad, as everybody including the Federal Government does, you should see English Kills. Yuck.

Back tomorrow with more from my beloved Creek.


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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 15, 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

flowed conflictingly

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Becoming reacquainted with that old/new lens of mine, a 70-300 zoom which I had retired several years ago since it didn’t get along well with my old camera, is something I like to do at familiar locales. Luckily, there are few places more familiar to me than the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. There’s my favorite little tree again. Don’t worry, you’ll see more of it tomorrow.

Often, when out shooting at night, intuition tells me that I’m being watched. It’s usually primates doing the watching, more often than not through the monoculars of security cameras. Sometimes it’s one of those dick Canada Gooses, others it’s a stealthy raccoon or some other beast of the night. I mainly worry about the primates, truth be told. I’m pretty sure I can win a fight with a raccoon, and actually fended one off not too long ago in Maspeth with my tripod.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This time around, when I felt a pair of eyes boring into me, it was a cat sitting on the bulkheads of Dutch Kills. How it managed to get to this spot mystifies, but Cat’s are capable of great feats of athleticism. You don’t normally see Cats with this colorization hereabouts. Calicos and tabbies seem to be more common on the Brooklyn side of Newtown Creek, in LIC there seems to be some sort of genetic advantage to having your fur pajamas cast in black. Black cats with yellow eyes seem to dominate.

Remember back in the before times, prior to the hipsters and gentrifiers, when there were packs of wild dogs roaming around? Lots of feral animals in those days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This little murder machine seemed to on the hunt for something which was hiding behind that concrete block on the right hand side of the shot. Probably some prey animal like a rat or a mouse, or some sort of shrew. It was really paying attention to me as well, and seemed to know that it was being photographed. I swear that it saw the camera and posed. Never signed a release, though, so I can’t sell this shot.

Back tomorrow with more from the shadows.


“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 25, 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

snouted denizens

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Monday

X

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Experimental in nature, the images in today’s post are actually hundreds of images wound into YouTube video files. I set the camera up to capture time lapses of the storm setting itself up on Saturday night. Was hoping for lightning, but there you go. The one above is looking westwards from Astoria right about sunset.

X

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When the storm really got going, and it turns out that Saturday broke the record in NYC for a single day’s worth of rain, I had to move the camera to a somewhat safer and drier position. All of these were captured at HQ – by the way – where a humble narrator was bunkered down, drinking tea and eating toast. This one looks at the sewer grate on my corner as it drank up hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water.

X

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is from a little earlier in the evening, looking southwest along Astoria’s Broadway as the clouds and humidity built up. One was quite aware of his ear drums at this point in the evening, as the atmospheric pressure built and the storm neared. Back tomorrow with something else.

Also, tonight is the actual, calendrical, Night of the Living Dead.


“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 23, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in Astoria

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