Whenever I update the What’s New? page, I delete entries that are no longer new (i.e., more than a year old) and move them to this archive. That keeps the What’s New? page to a reasonable size, while maintaining a complete history of this Web site for anyone who might be interested. I can’t imagine why anyone would actually be interested in such a thing, but here it is.
Since this archive goes back to 1999, some links and other things mentioned in old entries may have changed, moved, or disappeared. I’ve removed outdated links and annotated some entries to indicate where things have moved, but I’ve otherwise left the original text unchanged. I add the annotations when I archive the entries, so in time the annotations may themselves become outdated.
I’ve been taking advantage of the seasonal darkness to rediscover the joys of scanning film, continuing my ongoing effort to upgrade my oldest scans. I have updated the Travel Photo Essay on the Big Island of Hawaii with four new pictures and improved versions of many of the others. I also added a new Fine Art picture, Bricks and Flower.
I have finished reworking the San Diego section. I added three new Travel Photo Essays and a new menu page, and revised the three older Travel Photo Essays (Old San Diego, New San Diego, and Balboa Park). The “island” of Coronado, formerly part of “New San Diego,” now has its own page.
I revised the articles on DNG and the Bestiary of File Formats to reflect Adobe’s and Microsoft’s latest efforts to “evangelize” their respective proprietary standards for camera raw files and general digital imaging; and made assorted minor updates to other commentaries and Links and Reviews.
Rather than offering generic “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings,” I’ll specifically wish everyone (chronologically): Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, Io Saturnalia, Blessed Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and/or Happy New Year. And remember that prints of my pictures make excellent gifts!
Last month I visited La Jolla, a picturesque coastal enclave 19km north of downtown San Diego. As the people at work consistently asked me when I got back, “Why La Jolla?” I had neither the time nor the inclination for a lengthy solo road trip, and I definitely did not want to fly anywhere. I wanted a great “staycation” close to home, and San Diego is my favorite place for that. La Jolla was a part of San Diego I had never visited, and pictures I had seen of it suggested good photographic opportunities. That’s why.
La Jolla would seem an odd choice for a solo vacation. The main seaside resort area called “The Village” is known for luxury hotels, pricey shopping, fancy restaurants offering dinner specials for two, and beaches and cliffs meant for sunset strolls. It has all the ingredients for a couple’s romantic getaway, although the main beach park is also quite popular with San Diego families.
Surprisingly, that wasn’t a problem. Nobody charged me a “single supplement” to enjoy scenery that mostly does live up to the guidebook hype. And I even tried some of the fancy restaurants for late weekday lunch, when they’re not crowded and thus more welcoming to a “party of one.” Because I went in autumn and during the week, I found a reasonably-priced hotel with an ocean view room. And as a final pleasant surprise, the 177-kilometer drive home to suburban Los Angeles on a Friday morning took exactly two hours. 65mph (105km/h)— and 39mpg (6L/100km)— the entire way on the notoriously congested 5 and 405 freeways. It surely was one of that day’s hundred million miracles.
Despite unseasonably overcast and foggy weather that the forecasters completely missed, I brought back enough new pictures to require extensive reworking of my current set of San Diego Travel Photo Essays. While I work on that, I have temporarily put five pictures of La Jolla’s coastal highlights at the top of the Scenery page. I also temporarily added three appropriately “artsy” images to the Fine Art page: A fragmented reflection of a 1920s-vintage hotel in the windows of a modern bank building; the brick steps of the War Memorial on Mount Soledad; and a detail of the science-fictiony campus of the Salk Institute.
I finally finished the last Travel Photo Essay from my June road trip. Around San Luis Obispo includes 20 new pictures and covers Morro Bay, the little semi-ghost town of Harmony, the very scenic wine country around Paso Robles, and Mission San Miguel Arcángel.
I updated the Scanning 110-Format Film (and Kodachrome) article to include information about a new film holder for certain Nikon, Canon, and Epson scanners that a reader brought to my attention. I’ve also added some helpful information about working with scans of old negatives. I also updated the Some Pocket Instamatic Resources article to discuss the apparent demise of 110 film. When I sent an e-mail about it to Kodak’s customer service provider, the response I received said that they’re still selling the only 110 film. But it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere.
I updated The Joy of Solo Travel?, mainly in response to the increasing number of readers who reach the article through search queries relating to solo travel for men. Oddly enough, nearly all the other “hits” returned by such queries are actually about solo travel for women. And I made some minor updates to an article about “staycations” that I wrote a year ago.
I have a new Travel Photo Essay on San Luis Obispo. I don’t pretend it’s anything like a comprehensive guide to that pleasant college town, but it includes 15 new pictures of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the former Carnegie Library that’s now a museum, the Madonna Inn (no connection with the Kabbalistic pop singer), and the uniquely tacky Bubblegum Alley.
I also updated some of my commentary sections on photography because, as of yesterday, Dale Laboratories no longer makes slides from color negatives. This was the service that got Dale Farkas started in the photo lab business in 1973. I used it from 1990 until I switched to a digital camera in 2005.
Dale Labs processed the negatives, printed them onto motion picture stock, cut and mounted the stock into slides, and returned them along with the negatives. The slides were corrected for exposure, thus gaining significantly more latitude along with the convenience of ISO 400 and 800 film (at those speeds, negative film has much finer grain and better color than slide film). They printed the slides on a 35-year-old machine that had reached the end of its life. Since parts are no longer available for it, and there is no new machine that can replace it, they were forced to discontinue the service. For some years Dale was the only lab that made slides from negatives; so now that joins the growing ranks of extinct photographic technologies. Such is the price of progress.
Finally, I’ll make an exception to my usual policy of not mentioning hotels or restaurants. I highly recommend the San Luis Creek Lodge, where I stayed in San Luis Obispo. Their Web site describes it as a “bed and breakfast inn with the amenities of a small upscale hotel.” As a male solo traveler who seeks value for money, those usually are the sort of words that make me immediately click the “back” button. Especially when it continues with “[i]t is the perfect California romantic getaway— for a romantic weekend getaway or mid-week retreat.”
But the rest of the description seemed strangely compelling, so I checked Trip Advisor. The many uniformly favorable reviews— the likes of which I have seldom seen— convinced me to follow the advice sometimes given to female solo travelers, that a solo vacation can be an opportunity to enjoy some luxury. It also helped that the cost was comparable to a chain hotel. The decision turned out to be a very good one, since the Lodge is definitely a cut above a chain hotel. It’s also proof that “value for money” is not synonymous with “cheap.”
Read the Web site for the specifics, since it provides a truthfully accurate description. I particularly enjoyed the architectural quirkiness and my unusually spacious, distinctively decorated room (every room is different) full of nice touches— a skylight in the bathroom, a terrycloth robe, and a large Sony HDTV. It probably would be a great place for a romantic getaway, but I nonetheless felt very comfortable as a solo traveler. The staff were solicitous and knowledgeable; and the breakfast was not only a fine filling start to the day, but an enjoyable opportunity to meet other guests.
My trip last month to the San Luis Obispo area included a stop in Lompoc to visit La Purisima Mission and the famous flower fields. The flowers typically reach their peak bloom in mid-June, just when I planned to be there. My previous visit was in early May 2001, when I was disappointed to find no flowers. This time I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve added five new pictures of the flower fields to the La Purisima Mission Travel Photo Essay. I also added some new information about the Chumash Indians, for whose supposed benefit the mission was built. There’s an “artsy” sixth picture of some well-weathered irrigation pipes I saw in the flower fields, but that’s more appropriate for the Fine Art 3 page.
I also updated the Santa Ynez Valley Travel Photo Essay with more complete information about the origin of the odd name of Nojoqui Falls, which I found while reading about those Chumash Indians. Finally, I updated the travel notes for visitors to Palos Verdes Estates, California to reflect some recent changes.
More to come.
I just returned from my first significant solo road trip since I went to Death Valley in 1992. I spent a week driving 1,225 kilometers, around the beautiful wine-growing region and the foggy coast near San Luis Obispo (roughly midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco). This was the first opportunity in the six months I’ve had my car to drive it for something other than “stop-and-creep” commuting and errands.
A few observations: Satellite radio and an iPod make a solo road trip much more enjoyable than it was in 1992, when AM radio and cassette tapes were often my only company. (They also make the daily “stop-and-creep” less unpleasant.) Although a four-hour solo drive isn’t my favorite way to spend a morning, it’s definitely better than the ordeal air travel has unfortunately become.
And while I normally object to the abuse of traffic law enforcement for generating revenue, I am now convinced that California could solve all its budget problems by ordering the Highway Patrol to enforce the speed limit on freeways. The revenue from all those tickets, along with the income tax on insurance companies’ profits from the resulting premium increases, should be enough to end the deficit.
The prevailing speed on Route 101 was often more than 80mph (130 km/h), as impatient drivers— mostly in SUVs— were still passing me when I (briefly) accelerated to that speed. The old 55mph (90 km/h) limit was correctly despised (and usually ignored) as too slow. But isn’t 65 or 70 fast enough? Even at that “inefficient” speed— using air conditioning, and with some Los Angeles “stop-and-creep” thrown in— my Corolla still got 39mpg (6 L/100 km). So I feel only a little guilty about driving rather than, say, riding Amtrak and a bicycle.
On the way to San Luis Obispo I stopped at La Purisima Mission in Lompoc. My previous visit there in 2001 resulted in a short Travel Photo Essay that gets a lot of visits, most likely from parents in California looking to help their fourth graders with school assignments about the mission. I have reworked that page and added eight new pictures.
On 18 April 1999, I uploaded the first version of Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table to the “personal Web space” of my dial-up Internet account. It had four Travel Photo Essays: Grand Teton (which also included a few pictures of Yellowstone), California Deserts (which after later additions and rewriting became Joshua Tree and Death Valley), Mono Lake and Bodie, and Indian Country. Including the grab-bag gallery that became the Scenery and Fine Art sections, it had 97 pictures. There were also a few incomplete commentary articles.
This site has grown since then. With the latest additions, it now has 63 Travel Photo Essays and 1,108 pictures. I’ve also improved my digital imaging techniques. And througout the past decade, it has always been exciting to look through the log summaries each week and see so many visitors from all over the world, along with the astonishing variety of search queries that lead them to its pages. It’s even more exciting when some of those visitors order prints or image licenses!
Those “latest additions” are five new Travel Photo Essays on San Francisco. They include 77 new pictures, plus the eleven I moved from their temporary homes on the Fine Art pages.
I have also added a special version of Cows and Coast to the collection of higher-resolution images available for free download as wallpaper. Appropriately, it’s the tenth image in the collection. It’s formatted for wide-screen LCD monitors in 1440x900 and 1680x1050 sizes. And there are updates and tweaks to numerous pages.
With that work done, it’s time to make some travel plans and take some new pictures.
Yes, I am still around. I’ve merely been suffering from writer’s block in attempting to finish the Travel Photo Essays from last October’s trip to San Francisco. I wasn’t at all satisfied with my initial efforts, although I’m quite pleased with the pictures. So I put it aside for a while. And I’ve had various distractions, notably the purchase of a new car— a Toyota Corolla XLE— at the end of last year. Buying a car is a less than pleasant process that I avoid doing more often than once a decade. But with that now behind me, I’m very happy with the car.
I also joined Facebook. That has provided an opportunity to reconnect with more long-lost friends from the distant past than I expected, but it can be quite a “time suck.” I have updated the obligatory picture of the Web site owner with the version I made for Facebook. It’s the same picture as before, but cropped and processed differently.
Another distraction was an upgrade to my computer’s main hard drive. The original 160GB Seagate 7200.7 was nearing the end of its five-year warranty, and amazon.com was (very briefly) selling a high-performance 640GB Western Digital Caviar Black drive for $70. I used Terabyte Image, the drive image backup tool, to transfer the data from the the three partitions on the old drive to the new drive. So I’ve rewritten my review of Image to discuss the intricacies of this process, as an example of how the software works. I also added a brief discussion of the potential pitfalls and workarounds when upgrading a Serial ATA drive on an older motherboard. I couldn’t find specific information about the Promise controller on my Asus A8V Deluxe motherboard, so I’m hoping to fill that gap for anyone else who might find it useful.
And now I can get back to working on the Photo Travel Essays. I don’t have a specific deadline in mind, but I am definitely making progress.
I have temporarily added three more “artsy” pictures from San Francisco to the Buildings and Architecture section of the Fine Art pages. [These moved to the San Francisco section when I finished it in April 2009.] I’m planning to take advantage of the upcoming holiday weekend to finish up the “digital darkroom” work on the San Francisco pictures, and perhaps even get started on the Travel Photo Essays.
I have also made some minor updates to the Bestiary of File Formats and DNG: Archival Solution or (Compact) Flash in the Pan? articles to reflect Adobe’s latest CS4 version of Photoshop.
And finally, to avoid offending anyone with a generic “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings,” I’ll specifically wish you (in chronological order): Io Saturnalia, Blessed Winter Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and/or Happy New Year. And remember that prints of my pictures make excellent gifts!
I spent a very enjoyable week in San Francisco last month. One week was barely enough time to visit the “top ten” attractions. But it was sufficient to gain an appreciation of why those songwriters (along with so many other people) left their hearts in the City by the Bay. San Francisco is renowned for its foggy and chilly climate, but the weather was completely anomalous when I was there: in the mid to upper 20s (Celsius), and not a cloud in the sky except for one “partly cloudy” day. But I chose to visit in October because that’s when this sort of anomaly is most likely.
I returned with some eight gigabytes of raw camera sensor data, which I’ve been spending my evenings sorting through, winnowing, and turning into pictures. It’s going to take me a while to finish that work, and then to write the Travel Photo Essays (right now I’m planning three of those, but that could change). In the interim, I have temporarily put eight appropriately “artsy” images on the Fine Art pages. There are five pictures of ships and boats at the Hyde Street Pier (part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park) and Fisherman’s Wharf; and three pictures of interesting buildings. [These all moved to the San Francisco section when I finished it in April 2009.]
Andrew Hudson’s PhotoSecrets San Francisco and Northern California guidebook proved a valuable resource for making the most of my limited time (his companion guide to San Diego was similarly helpful four years ago). But travel should always include discoveries that aren’t in the guidebooks. First, as a Southern California native I found it an amazing revelation to visit a city— in California, no less!— that’s designed for humans rather than for automobiles, where you can conveniently get anywhere you need to go using public transportation. (I have experienced this in London and Paris, but that was too many years ago.)
There was also a strangely chilling visit to Alcatraz— the former maximum-security federal prison that is now a very popular national park— a few weeks before the election to replace a President associated with prisons. The crowd of visitors there included groups of Germans and Israelis. The mingled sound of German and Hebrew echoing from the cell block walls added an extra note of surrealism.
And there was a visit to the ornate City Hall, where I saw two women getting married under the rotunda. Behind them was an overflow queue of same-sex couples waiting for the marriage license department. This was an urgent matter for them, as the ballot for the imminent election included Proposition 8, an ultimately successful measure to ban the same-sex marriages that the state Supreme Court had legalized five months earlier.
I don’t care much about same-sex marriage itself. But I found the tactics of Proposition 8’s backers quite disturbing. A coalition of Catholics, Evangelicals, and Mormons collected and spent nearly $40 million. Half of those donations came from well-meaning Mormon families all over the country, who faithfully heeded their leaders’ call— proclaimed from every church pulpit— to donate whatever they could to the Cause of Saving Marriage. The righteous people who ran the campaign apparently decided that merely appealing to tradition and faith would not persuade non-Believers. So they instead spent the money on fear and deception. Their commercials raised the specter of corrupting children, based on the utterly fallacious assertion that schools would be forced to teach and promote homosexuality if Proposition 8 failed. They also made the spurious claim that churches refusing to perform same-sex marriages would be subject to legal penalties. (In contrast, opponents spent just as much on a diffident campaign that focused on abstract notions of equality.)
What bothered me most was that the pious backers of Proposition 8 apparently decided that their Cause justified violating the biblical Commandment against bearing false witness. And also that the zealous Latter-Day Saints seem to have forgotten their own history of persecution for “non-traditional” marriage practices; they abandoned polygamy only after it became a political barrier to Utah statehood. Meanwhile, opponents are holding counterproductive protests at Mormon temples. They have also filed lawsuits to challenge the measure’s constitutionality, and to determine the status of those same-sex couples who married while it was legal. My prediction, for what it’s worth: The United States Supreme Court will ultimately decide the same-sex marriage issue in a 5-4 ruling consistent with the ideology the Court’s “conservative majority” were appointed to uphold.
After that digression, I think it’s time to get back to Photoshop!
It’s time for the annual update to my review of Paint Shop Pro (PSP), the image editing software I used until 2005. I no longer use PSP (for the reasons I discuss in some detail), but I try to keep the review up to date because it gets quite a lot of visitors. This year, instead of the expected new version that fixes some of the old bugs while adding new ones, Corel split last year’s X2 into two editions. That’s possibly because Corel is putting itself up for sale. We’ll just have to see whether the new owner does a better job of maintaining and improving PSP. I’ve also made a few small tweaks, updates, and corrections to assorted Commentaries.
I have written a new commentary in praise of the “staycation”. Staycation is the ditzy new term for vacationing close to home. Though it’s a concept that goes back to when trilobites ruled the Earth, pundits have officially anointed it a “trend” in reaction to the high price of airfare and gasoline. I originally had a few paragraphs about this in Avoid Flying Whenever Possible; but I have now expanded it in response to a recent post on travel guru Arthur Frommer’s blog that unfairly disparages people who take “staycations.”
There’s also a new picture, Beach Footprints, and an improved version of Garden Maiden. I took these— along with The Brig Pilgrim that I added last week and the pictures in the Travel Photo Essay on San Juan Capistrano— during a 2005 “staycation” in Orange County, California, about an hour and a half drive south of where I live.
I’ve made some small updates to the Scanning 110-Format Film (and Kodachrome) article, and to the discussion of raw converters. I rewrote the brief discussion of the unfortunately-defunct RawShooter Essentials raw converter to make it more useful for people who are looking for information about it. I’ve also added one new picture (The Brig Pilgrim) to the “Ships and Boats” section of the Fine Art page.
Whenever I update this “What’s New?” page, I delete any entries that are more than a year old. I have now added What’s Old?, archives of those deleted entries going back to this site’s debut on 18 April 1999. The entries are annotated where appropriate to account for things that have moved, changed, or disappeared. I’ll be the first to admit that the the audience for a complete history of this site is inherently limited, if it exists at all. But some of the entries include information I never incorporated into the permanent part of the site, so that could prove of interest. The linked archives might also provide an alternative way to browse the site, supplementing the home page, the site map, and the alphabetical index of pictures.
My trip to the Northern California coast in April yielded four new Travel Photo Essays: the Mendocino Coast, Fort Bragg, the Redwood Coast (also called the “Redwood Empire”) in Humboldt County, and Victorian buildings in Ferndale and Eureka. Including the two new pictures on the Scenery page, there are 65 new pictures. One of them marks a milestone: the 1000th image on this Web site.
Another update is a new obligatory picture of the Web site owner. Because my photo travel adventures are almost always solo trips, the previous “obligatory picture” was taken nearly eight years ago. I don’t have enough desire for “record shots” of myself to bother with a self-timer on a tripod, or to either hand my camera to strangers or carry a disposable camera for that purpose (I recommend the latter for solo travelers who do want pictures of themselves). Since I shared my Northern California trip with a good friend who has his own decent camera, I finally have a new picture.
I’ve also updated the section of the article on digital cameras about raw converters. A “problem” picture of the Carson Mansion (a much-photographed Victorian house in Eureka) illustrates the value of a diverse collection of raw-file conversion software.
Last month I visited the coastal scenery and redwoods of Mendocino and Humboldt Counties in Northern California, my first trip in years that wasn’t a solo vacation. It was enjoyable as well as productive: I brought back some eight gigabytes of pictures. I’ve since been busily sorting through them, and doing the appropriate Photoshop work in preparation for the forthcoming Travel Photo Essays. But for now I have four new pictures in the “odds and ends” category. On the Scenery page is a view of the Trinity River from the Trinity Scenic Byway. And I have three new Fine Art pictures I took in Eureka: A detail of the bow of the Lady Washington, an authentic reproduction of an 18th century merchant ship; and logging camp shacks and some rusty machinery with flowers, both at the Blue Ox Millworks.
Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table has been on the Web for nine years. It’s exciting to look through the log summaries each week and see so many people from all over the world visiting my site, along with the astonishing variety of search queries that lead them to its pages. It’s even more exciting when some of those visitors order prints or image licenses!
I have added a new high-resolution edition of Maluaka Beach, Maui to the collection of images available for free download as wallpaper. This version— the ninth image in the collection, appropriately enough— is formatted for wide-screen LCD monitors in 1440x900 and 1680x1050 sizes. There is also an improved “wallpaper” version of A Spring Morning in Vauvenargues.
Happy Leap Day! I do hope you’ve made suitably productive and/or joyful use of this intercalary gift.
My latest Los Angeles and Vicinity Travel Photo Essay is about the municipal piers in the South Bay “beach cities” of Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach. Along with ten new pictures, eight pictures formerly on the Fine Art pages now have a proper home (the ones I shot on film are new scans). I have also added four new pictures to the Fine Art pages.
This Travel Photo Essay also demonstrates that travel photography doesn’t always have to involve flying or a long journey to an “exotic” destination. Interesting and colorful places can be found just down the street if you look for them. I live just down the street from the Redondo Beach Pier, so over the years it has been one of my favorite places for testing cameras, lenses, and films.
I have rewritten my reviews of the enhanced command interpreter Take Command and the disk image backup tool Terabyte Unlimited Image for Windows to reflect the major changes in their new versions. I have also removed the review of the discontinued camera raw file converter Pixmantec RawShooter Essentials; but I’ve left behind a “stub” explaining what this was, and listing some of the current cameras it does not support, for the benefit of visitors looking for information about it. I have moved the general discussion of the reasons for using third-party raw converters to a new section of the article on digital cameras.
Happy Groundhog Day, Candlemas, or Imbolc! My latest Travel Photo Essay about Los Angeles and Vicinity concerns the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, with 15 new pictures. The Getty Villa is a museum dedicated to the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities that billionaire oil magnate J. Paul Getty and his subsequent well-endowed trust have collected. That collection is housed in an authentic reconstruction of the Villa of the Papyri, an opulent house in Herculaneum buried in the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano that destroyed Pompeii in 79 CE. Exploring the grounds of the Getty Villa is like stepping directly into early Imperial Rome, in full (and often garish) color— an experience you probably won’t get from visiting real Roman ruins in Europe.
To start off the new year, I have a new Travel Photo Essay (with 11 new pictures) about another one of Southern California’s hidden gems, Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch and Gardens in Long Beach. The ranch is practically a “core sample” of California history, a remnant of the Spanish colonial era that was most recently the home of a “gentleman cowboy” whose family was an influential part of the local oil and real estate industries. It’s also a very pleasant place for just walking around— and for photographing the many interesting details.