The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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hypnotic fumes

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Monday is Monday, whatever year it is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that getting a few shots of the Superfund related dredging being conducted down at the Gowanus Canal in in South Brooklyn might come in handy down the line for my beloved Newtown Creek. Accordingly, I decided to head over to the Red Hook/Sunset Park area. Normally, I’d just hop on the Subway, but… y’know… plague times, so I took the NYC Ferry instead as I’d be able to hang out on the top deck in the open air rather than sitting on the thermos bottle like G train for an hour. My plan was valid, but the day I chose to go ended up being an incredibly cold one.

I spent the prior evening packing my camera bag, and laying out warm clothes. Slept on the couch so as to not terrify Our Lady of the Pentacle when my alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning. One woke, inhaled a bunch of coffee and a couple of glasses of water, then bathed and dressed. Left HQ at about 5:30, when it was still dark, and got an egg sandwich at the local bagel shop to provide fuel for the mission. Walked over to the East River, and boarded a southbound ferry as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself rose in the eastern sky. Luckily, my forethought and preparation involved a secondary layer of thermal underwear, as it was bitterly cold out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC Ferry offers a free transfer within 90 minutes of activating (via the app) or buying your ticket. The service allows you to jump from one line to another at several locations, notably the 34th street and Pier 11 stops on the Manhattan side act as hubs where multiple ferry lines meet. I rode the Astoria line boat to Pier 11/Wall Street in lower Manhattan’s financial district and then transferred onto the South Brooklyn service. South Brooklyn Ferry now has a stop inside of Atlantic Basin, which is meant to serve the Red Hook neighborhood. In retrospect, I should have debarked there, but instead I went to the Brooklyn Army Terminal stop about a mile or so south.

Hey, I got up at 4:30 in the morning for this, you think I’m not going to walk through Industry City when I’m in the neighborhood? Sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ultimate goal was to get to the Gowanus Canal about 10 a.m., which is when my sources inside the Federal Superfund Operation told me that I’d most reliably see dredging operations at work. Thing is, it’s been so long since I’ve been out with the camera during daylight hours that I decided on making this one of my “adventures.”

Adventure and excitement are things which a Jedi does not crave, of course, but I am no Jedi. There are so many experiences which I was forced to leave on the table in 2020 due to the Pandemic that the notion of having an interesting day was just too much for me to pass up. More tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

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, January 4th. 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

January 4, 2021 at 1:00 pm

somber livery

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Friday, 2021.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Project Firebox used to be a thing here at Newtown Pentacle, owing to my fascination with the things and also to Mayor Bloomberg’s heartfelt desire to eradicate them from the streets of NYC, which is obviously one of several things he was unsuccessful at during his terms as Mayor. I like Fire Alarm boxes for a couple of reasons, but primarily they often serve as a bit of a history lesson. See the one above? This model, with push buttons for bothering FDNY and NYPD, was installed all over the City back during the Koch era. Certain models of this type have an intercom style audio system incorporated into them.

It was a failed experiment, supposedly. FDNY says that most of their false alarm calls come from Fireboxes, and there’s never a Cop around when you need one. At least there’s always a firebox to hide from fire or crime behind.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Regrets? I’ve got a few. Resolutions? I avoid making them.

The only New Year’s resolution I’ve got this year is to drop some weight, as both butt and gut have gotten bigger and softer during the pandemic months and I’m tired of it. Need to get more exercise time in, a humble narrator does. Burn off the fat, get back to being leaner and meaner. Grrr.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Have a good 2021? I’m almost afraid to offer the salutation, for fear that California might break off of the continent and sink into the ocean after 2020.

Back next week, with shots from one of the very few adventures I managed to have in the last 294 days. Stay safe and all that, Lords and Ladies.

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, December 28th. 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

January 1, 2021 at 11:00 am

atomic weight

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Thursday’s, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That photo up there was surprisingly difficult to capture, but not because of any technical or camera related issue. Instead, it was the wind. The tripod I use was chosen for its “carry-ability” and beat out several other contenders for my hard earned cash in terms of its weight. That’s actually where it’s fatal flaw manifests – it’s quite light. Normally, this isn’t much of an issue, but at Hells Gate the other night, steady winds were introducing vibration into the setup and blurring the shot. A “proper” tripod would weigh four or five times what mine does (I have two of those, which get left at home) but then you have a ten and change pound pile of metal you’re carrying. Saying that – a heavier tripod would have locked down to the ground, gravity wise, and cancelled out the wind effect somewhat.

When you walk miles and miles, as I do, getting even a half pound out of your camera bag is a victory. Remember, I’ve been using two tiny prime lenses for the last year almost exclusively. The heavy “glass” zoom lenses have been siting in a camera bag for most of the pandemic, a habit I got into a year ago when I broke my big toe.

F11, ISO 200, 30 seconds – that’s the exposure triangle formula for this one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just because the prime lenses are low in weight doesn’t mean they’re not capable devices. I continue to be staggered at just how good Canon’s 24mm pancake lens is. It can be a bit wonky on autofocus in low light, but there’s ways around that. The downed tree in the shot above was barely visible with the naked eye due to it being in shadow, but a quick bit of flashlight work allowed the 24mm enough light to lock onto it and then it was just a matter of figuring out the right exposure.

For you photographers out there – f4 at ISO 200, 25 seconds. The only blur in the shot was introduced by the wind wobbling the branches about. The 24mm is razor sharp at f4, which I can’t say about my far more expensive and heavy zoom lenses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Citibike racks placed on the sidewalk, as I’ve found out, are tantamount to opening a Nazi death camp for the bicycle people. They want the racks placed on the street pavement, which has absolutely nothing to do with their political campaign to reduce the number of free parking spots for cars in NYC. The rack pictured above, for instance, translates to around five parking spots. Ideological concerns trump everything else for that crowd, including the ultra mundane set of rules and laws which both the Citibike and NYC DOT people must oblige.

I’m told by the powers that be that the racks are placed where they are (sidewalk versus street) in response to the needs of emergency vehicles, underground and overhead utilities, and the turning radiuses of mass transit vehicles like buses.

Since I’m doing this today – f4, ISO 100, 2.5 seconds.

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 2nd. 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 5, 2020 at 1:30 pm

bleak emptiness

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, one of the things which NYC still has money for is to employ a vast crew of laborers to demolish the concrete of Astoria’s Broadway corners and then replace them with new concretetized corners. Random and unannounced arrivals of demolition crews at 7:15 in the morning during a pandemic, using jack hammers mounted on the arms of backhoes that shake the foundations of the century old building you’re sleeping within… this far exceeds the value of hot cup of coffee for waking you right the hell up.

This has been a classic Queens operation. First, back in August – they milled and repaired the street. In September they showed up and painted in the street markings and so on. Then in October, a crew comes through and tears the whole operation back up again. Now, I get to moan to 311 and the Community Board people about all the asphalt and concrete which found their way into the sewers until DEP sends out a team to free up the grates.

Flooding is nice. Who doesn’t want to live by the water?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For most of the last week, time has been somewhat limited and my walks around LIC have been primarily about “cardio” and exercise. Saying that, I’ve always got the camera with me and am ready to record the cool stuff encountered along my path. My new favorite fence hole at Sunnyside Yards continues to shine.

Those are Amtrak trains, if you’re curious. In between duty shifts, the coach yard side of Sunnyside Yards handles the needs of this rolling stock. I’ve seen workers doing custodial work on the trains, others monkeying around with various exterior features and devices, and there’s all sorts of mechanical tasks that get attended to while the trains are overnighting in Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one of the hydraulic work lifts, which I fantasize about turning into my personal vehicle, was encountered on Skillman Avenue when looping back towards home recently. The one I showed you yesterday was green and small, this one is orange and bigger. Variety is the spice of life, huh?

This is a fairly busy week for old Mitch – tonight, Queens Community Board 1 will be virtually gathered for our monthly meeting. On Wednesday, the Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group will also be meeting virtually. For information on how to attend these public meetings – click here for Queens CB1 and here for the Newtown Creek CAG.

Also coming up – Tonight is the fund raiser Gala for the Working Harbor Committee, and October 29th is the Tidal Toast fundraiser for Newtown Creek Alliance.

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, October 19th. 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

October 20, 2020 at 11:00 am

slantplanks rising

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Happy Place Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like every other piece of wind blown trash in NYC, a humble narrator often finds himself turning up uninvited in Industrial Maspeth, which is my happy place. You need to be specific describing the sections of ancient Maspeth, as residential Maspeth is actually quite lovely and a fairly desirable place to live – especially if you’ve got kids. Industrial Maspeth, on the other hand, is a blasted heath where the fires of the industrial revolution(s) burned as hot as those in hell. You’ve got pollution of every kind everywhere you look hereabouts – the underground, air, soil, and Industrial Maspeth’s coastlines are defined by the canalized bulkheads of the fabulous Newtown Creek and its tributaries. Newtown Creek is, of course, a Federal Superfund site and is probably the most contaminated waterbody in North America.

Happy place, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one wandering about aimlessly, waiting for sunset to arrive so I could set up my tripod and capture a few landscape style shots. I try not to waste time while in the field, and when opportunity to capture “study” shots with bright primary colors presents itself I take it.

I tell ya, the working stiffs have no idea how much I appreciate them randomly tossing together safety barriers like the one pictured above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our Lady of Perpetual Puddles is the patron saint hereabouts. Heavy trucking really does a job on asphalt and the underlying infrastructure here in the Happy Place. This particular fire hydrant and the water it oozes into the street will play kind of big role in a post you’re going to see later on in the week, but for today’s purpose I just love the pastel colors it was reflecting from the vaulted sky.

I do hope you’ve subscribed to Newtown Pentacle if you’re new to the site. Generally speaking, I update with new material 5 times a week. I promise you won’t receive advertisements for weird stuff that have nothing to do with me, or at least any ads I’m inserting are for my photo books and or tours of the Newtown Creek which I’m the creator of. You can have the posts delivered to an email address you fill in above, for free, or you can follow me on Twitter – @newtownpentacle – to receive updates on that platform.

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, October 12th. 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

October 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

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