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What’s Old?

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 I’ve removed outdated links and annotated some entries to indicate where things have moved, but I’ve otherwise left the original text unchanged. I add the annotations when I archive the entries, so in time the annotations may themselves become outdated.

2 December 2014

I’ve redone all the pictures on the Las Vegas Strip Travel Photo Essay. I’ve also added six new pictures, and made some minor updates to the text.

The original set of pictures I took in Las Vegas in December 2005 were the first ones I processed with a properly-calibrated display, a color-managed workflow, and Photoshop. Because I made them with a workflow much like my current one, I didn’t think these pictures would benefit from new raw conversion and processing. But I dug out the raw files to try out DxO Optics Pro Elite 8.5, a raw converter available for free as a promotional offer through 31 January 2015. (This version, 8.5, was released exactly a year ago. The current version is 10.) While I wasn’t particularly impressed with DxO Optics Pro itself, using it on a few of the Las Vegas pictures quickly convinced me that reworking the nine-year-old images with newer software would be a significant improvement. You can see a comparison of the old and new versions of one of the pictures, which I’ve just added to the “Then and Now” page.

Rather than generic “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings,” I’ll specifically wish you and yours (in chronological order): Chanukah sameach, Io Saturnalia, Blessed Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, and/or Happy New Year!

16 November 2014

I have completely redone the Canadian Rockies Travel Photo Essay. There are 12 new pictures, plus the two I put on the Scenery page last month. I also made new versions of the original 19 pictures. (Here’s an illustrated explanation of why I made those new versions.)

Writing this Travel Photo Essay involved some special challenges. Although Banff and Jasper National Parks have many famous scenic highlights, the driving route through the parks offers a nearly continuous panorama of scenery. Other than the well-known places, it’s not always easy (or even possible) to identify the specific location of a picture years (or even weeks) after taking it. My two trips to Alberta were in August 1983 and May 1992. I have no records at all from the 1983 trip, but most of those pictures that I used on the Web page were of easily-identified places. My recollections of the second trip are dominated by continuing frustration about the unexpected winter weather I experienced in late May— not particularly helpful for captioning pictures. You can read more about that experience and what I learned from it in Some Lessons from Alberta, which I have also substantially revised.

During my trips to southern Utah, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park in the three years before I went back to Alberta, I kept meticulous records that proved invaluable when preparing the Travel Photo Essays. After I took each picture, or set of related pictures, I dictated the exact location and technical details into a micro-cassette recorder. I then spent the evening transcribing the day’s dictation onto log sheets. The recorder broke down after the Yellowstone trip, and I decided not to replace it. I realized that only a very few family and friends would ever see the pictures, so the tedious effort of dictating and transcribing detailed notes no longer seemed worthwhile. (I doubt anyone in 1992 could have foreseen that, less than seven years later, it would be practical to put digital versions of the pictures on the Web. I later started keeping less-detailed but still useful picture logs, first on a Palm PDA and then on an iPod.)

I made the first version of the Canadian Rockies page in 2002. Perhaps because the frustrating memories of the 1992 trip were still relatively fresh, the narrative was minimal and too many of the pictures were inaccurately captioned. Twelve years later, I could approach the necessary detective work and research objectively. I had the itinerary from the 1992 trip, which I could use with the sequence of slides to establish the general area where I took particular pictures. Then I searched for images on the Web— many more than were available in 2002— that could help me identify the specific location of as many of my pictures as I could. That worked for some pictures, but for others the best I could do was to specify the park, river, or other general location. The inclement weather in 1992 also made my collection of images less comprehensive than I’d like. (But those slides are evidence that the weather wasn’t quite the impediment I remember.) Still, I think the new Travel Photo Essay is much better than the old one, and could be useful for someone planning a visit to Alberta. It also reflects my fascination with the origins of place names, information not usually found in guidebooks.

As part of the detective work, I went through seven boxes of “outtake” slides from 1992. That helped me synchronize the pictures with my trip itinerary. It also confirmed that I had done a good job of originally selecting slides for the Carousel tray, from which I later selected the pictures to present here. But a few of the “outtakes” turned out to be rather nice pictures, once I made digital adjustments that weren’t practical 22 years ago. Darkening the sky and enhancing the color and contrast of a twilight scene in the Vermilion Lakes near Banff revealed the colors I actually saw. Correcting the exposure on a slide of the Bow River in Banff gave it the classic look of Kodachrome film, as seen in travel magazines for much of the 20th century. And this nearly abstract Lake Louise reflection needed cropping and a slight color and contrast boost to realize its potential.

17 October 2014

I was one of some 20,000 participants in Scott Kelby’s 7th Annual Worldwide Photowalk™ last Saturday. (Scott Kelby is a prolific author of books, articles, and training materials for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.) The nearest of over a thousand photo walks around the world was at the pier in Hermosa Beach, California.

Along with the opportunity to meet and shoot with other photographers, the event got me some rather nice pictures of the pier and beach at sunset. I have updated my Travel Photo Essay on South Bay Piers with three of those pictures. One is a calendar-pretty Hermosa Pier Sunset. The other two are more “artsy”: Under Hermosa Pier and Two-Tone Pier Reflection.

I’ve also added a new picture to the Scenery page, a Garden Path in the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. It’s a companion piece to another Garden Path, also at the Butchart Gardens. And finally, a seasonal treat of two ghoulish wooden jack-o-lanterns. By the way, as we rush headlong into the Holiday Season, do keep in mind that prints of my pictures make excellent gifts!

7 October 2014

I’ve added two new pictures to the Scenery page: Athabasca Rapids and Cascades. I took both of them in Jasper National Park, Alberta. They’ll eventually be added to the Canadian Rockies Travel Photo Essay, which I’m just starting to overhaul. It will have much-improved versions of the images I originally prepared in 2001 and 2002, along with these and several other “new” pictures.

23 August 2014

With the reworked Travel Photo Essay on Roussillon and the Lubéron, the overhaul of my Provence travelogues is now complete. I’ve added nine new pictures to complement the improved versions of the original 11.

I’ve also overhauled What’s a Virtual Light Table?; and updated the article on DNG (Adobe’s universal format for camera raw files) and the review of the Plustek 7600i and 8200i film scanners.

I published the original versions of the seven Provence pages almost exactly 14 years ago, on 26 August 2000. That collection included 68 pictures, all scanned with a Hewlett-Packard Photosmart scanner and VueScan, and processed with Paint Shop Pro 5. Between then and the beginning of 2014, I made new versions of about a dozen of the original pictures (usually when someone wanted to buy one of them) and added 15 new ones.

For the overhaul, between January and August 2014, I made new (and improved) versions of nearly all the existing pictures, and added 36 new ones. That brings the total number of pictures to 119. I used a Plustek OpticFilm 7600i scanner with VueScan, processed the images with Photoshop CS5, and took full advantage of the improvements in my “digital darkroom” equipment and techniques since 2000.

I really don’t know why I overlooked so many rather nice pictures the first time around. Some of them turned out to require techniques and adjustments that either weren’t available in Paint Shop Pro 5, or I just didn’t know about. But the major motivation may have been the (self-imposed) pressure to get the pictures and Web pages published, possibly combined with running out of patience for the laborious task of scanning film without automatic infrared cleaning.

27 July 2014

The overhaul of my Provence travelogues is nearing completion. I have reworked the Orange and the Dentelles de Montmirail page, with six new pictures in addition to improved versions of the original 11 pictures. (“New” means “not previously seen.”) I have also updated Some Words About Provence, and given all the recently-overhauled Travel Photo Essays new title headers, in a font appropriately called “French Script.” One more essay remains to be reworked.

21 June 2014

Happy Solstice! I’ve decided to take a break from scanning film, and also to take the first trip I’ve been able to make in over two years. Carlsbad, California is in north San Diego County. It doesn’t have caverns— those are in New Mexico. But the Legoland® theme park that opened in 1999 has made Carlsbad a popular family destination. I didn’t go to Legoland, as family-oriented theme parks don’t appeal to me. (The powerfully joyful sounds of the many Legoland-bound youngsters exuberantly playing and splashing in the pool at the motel where I was staying were quite enough.)

But Carlsbad has other worthwhile attractions. The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch® are sort of a seasonal theme park built around 22 hectares of multicolored buttercups. The historic Leo Carrillo Ranch was once a cowboy actor’s working ranch. And the seaside “Village” is where Carlsbad began in 1882, as a spa built on local mineral water. I also visited Mission San Luis Rey de Francia in nearby Oceanside. My trip was neither long nor far, but it was photographically exciting and productive. The two new Travel Photo Essays include a total of 40 pictures.

I expect those pictures to be the last ones I take with my nine-year-old Canon Digital Rebel XT/350D camera. Shooting with it on this trip, after mainly using my Canon Powershot S100 shirt-pocket camera on local day trips over the last four years, made the now-antique camera’s limitations very apparent. I have replaced it with a Canon SL1 (also called the 100D), which has recently been available at an attractive price. I’ll have more to say about it later, once the current June Gloom here in Southern California (hopefully) gives way to weather that allows interesting pictures.

18 April 2014

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.

There are now 92 Travel Photo Essays and 1,739 pictures. I’ve also improved my digital imaging techniques. (Those original 97 pictures I prepared in 1999 have all been replaced with improved versions.) And during the past fifteen years, 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!

My latest overhauled Provence Travel Photo Essay is Nîmes. This is the most extensive overhaul so far, adding nine new pictures along with new versions of the 13 images I originally included in 2000.

Two of those pictures are of the Pont du Gard, a Roman bridge 23 kilometers from Nîmes, part of the 50-kilometer aqueduct that brought water to Nîmes (then called Nemausus) in the Roman era. I took those pictures (#1 and #2) in 1976. I include them in my Travel Photo Essay about a trip I made in 2000, first because they’re very nice pictures, and second because inclement weather prevented me from taking new versions in 2000. They’re Kodachrome slides, taken with the Pocket Instamatic 60 camera I used in those days. (It was the top-of-the-line Pocket Instamatic; and with slide film it could produce much better results than the grainy snapshots usually associated with that format.)

I made digital versions of those pictures in 2000, and again in 2003, but I was never happy with them. I am satisfied with the new versions, which closely match the color of the slides and have subtle enhancements. In the process of scanning those pictures (plus one other that will be part of the next overhauled Provence page), I found two more pictures from 1976 that I took in Strasbourg. A tranquil morning view of the River Ill is on the Europe through the Front Door page. And an “artsy” reflection is on the first Fine Art page. After scanning those Kodachrome slides with current tools, it was time to update my article about Scanning 110-Format Film (and Kodachrome).

15 March 2014

The latest of my overhauled Travel Photo Essays on Provence is about Les Baux and Glanum. You can visit both places on a day trip from Avignon.

Les Baux is a popular ruin of a medieval castle on a rock outcrop, from which a feudal dynasty (the “Lords of Baux”) ruled much of Provence for over 400 years. Glanum was a Roman city known for its healing hot spring, reduced to its foundations when Germanic-speaking invaders sacked it in the 3rd century CE. But two massive monuments at the entrance to Glanum survived the destruction, and have been tourist attractions for over 1,700 years. One of them is most likely a monument to a Gaulish family that was granted Roman citizenship by Julius Caesar. (How appropriate for the Ides of March!) I completely rewrote the Travel Photo Essay, and added six new pictures that haven’t been seen on this Web site before.

16 February 2014

The overhauled version of my Travel Photo Essay on Avignon, Provence, includes six new pictures.

One of those new pictures is a “panorama” of Pont St-Bénézet, the famous Avignon bridge. “Panoramic” pictures were a sort-of-fad in the 1990s, that began when Kodak introduced the Stretch disposable camera in 1989 (later renamed Fun Saver Panoramic 35). Those cameras had the same plastic body and single-speed shutter as Kodak’s other disposables. But they had a wide-angle (24mm) two-element fixed-focus plastic lens, and a plastic mask in front of the film. The mask had a 12x36mm “letterbox” opening that covered half the 24x36mm frame, yielding 3.5x10-inch or 4x12-inch prints. Those pictures were technically “pseudo-panoramic,” as the format— twice the width of a normal 35mm frame— wasn’t actually wide enough to qualify as a true panorama.

I didn’t use a disposable camera for the picture of Pont St-Bénézet. The “panoramic” fad was clearly over by the time I went to Provence in 2000, as Kodak had discontinued the Fun Saver Panoramic 35 the year before. Still, the scene suggested the Stretch format; so I composed the picture with the intent of cropping it that way. Since I used a very good Canon lens on a camera that correctly exposed sharper, finer-grained film, the image quality is much better than what the disposable cameras could produce.

2 February 2014

Happy Groundhog Day, Candlemas, and/or Imbolc! The overhaul of my Travel Photo Essay on Aix-en-Provence includes four new pictures, to go with the rewritten text and improved versions of the original pictures.

19 January 2014

The seven Travel Photo Essays on Provence, France, are the oldest parts of this Web site. Nearly all the pictures on those pages were scanned from film and digitally processed in 2000, a few months after my trip to France. I added a few more pictures and updated some text between then and 2004, and more recently made new versions of a handful of pictures. But the pages are pretty much as I made them in 2000.

My tools and techniques for creating digital images have significantly improved since then. This page shows a few examples of what that means. So I’ve made an ongoing project of gradually replacing the oldest images with improved versions.

The Travel Photo Essay on Nice and Cannes is the first of the Provence pages to get an overhaul. The pictures are all newly scanned and processed versions. I’ve also added three new pictures (“new” meaning “not previously seen”), revised the text, and updated the page layout.

29 December 2013

I’ve added two new pictures: Mediterranean Morning, on the Rancho Palos Verdes, California page; and Speaker Study, on the Fine Art 2 page. I also made various editorial corrections and improvements to several other pages.

As you might be able to discern from the paucity of updates, this year I haven’t been able to create much new material for this Web site, or to do any travel. The reasons for that are too uninteresting to explain, but I hope to remedy this situation next year. That said, I wish all of you a very happy 2014!

9 September 2013

I’ve revised my reviews of Focus Magic and Topaz InFocus, plug-ins for Photoshop that can significantly improve the sharpness of images. I had previously criticized Focus Magic for its developer’s excessive delay in updating it to be compatible with current versions of Photoshop and current Macintosh computers. But the developer recently remedied that problem. I also made several “behind-the-scenes” editorial corrections and improvements to other pages.

7 July 2013

I’ve made a new version of Flag Reflections, which is featured on the home page. I originally took it in the Naples area of Long Beach, California in 2007. The new version takes advantage of significant improvements in Photoshop’s processing of raw files since then. I’ve also made a larger version of Horton Plaza Windows (taken in San Diego), also on the home page, to make it consistent with the other pictures on the home page. And there are updates and corrections to various pages.

8 June 2013

I’ve reworked the Travel Photo Essays on Maui and Maui’s Scenic Coastal Highways. I made new versions of all the pictures, and added ten new ones. I took advantage of improvements to Adobe Camera Raw, the Photoshop tool that converts raw files to images, along with tools and techniques I didn’t have when I originally processed the digital pictures of Maui in 2006. I also made new scans of the slides I took in 1982 and 1988.

In the collection of Wallpaper Downloads, I’ve replaced the old 4:3 version of Lahaina Sunset with a new one for wide-screen monitors. And I’ve added a new wallpaper version of Upcountry Maui.

18 April 2013

Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table has been on the Web for fourteen 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 those visitors order prints or image licenses!

Transcending the Familiar, my new illustrated article, originated in 1989 with a photography class assignment: Shoot an entire roll of film— in those days that meant 36 slides— within 30 meters of where I lived. The purpose was to practice “seeing pictures” in ordinary, familiar things. But the real lesson was that, to paraphrase a National Rifle Association cliché, “cameras don’t take pictures, photographers take pictures.”

The exercise opened my eyes to artistic possibilities. (The article includes three of the slides from the original assignment.) That’s why I returned to it periodically, though I found it more practical to expand the original 30-meter radius to places within walking distance. Sometimes it was a way to test a new camera, lens, film, or software tool. Other times I explored something I had seen while driving or walking. And occasionally I did it just for its own sake, for its creative opportunities.

Over 24 years, those pictures became an eclectic collection. (Of course, the majority of them ended up in the trashcan or, later, in my computer’s bit bucket. Critically winnowing the most worthy pictures is as vital to the creative process as taking them.) I put some of them in the Fine Art section, since they qualify as “artistic” or abstract images.

“Transcending the Familiar” includes 36 of those pictures— a virtual roll of film, taken within walking distance of where I’ve lived. Twenty of them are new. Most of the sixteen pictures previously on the “Fine Art” pages are new versions. Besides presenting some images that I hope you’ll enjoy, I describe the exercise and use the pictures to illustrate some related ideas and techniques that I’ve found particularly useful as catalysts for the creative vision that can “transcend the familiar.” I hope it gives you some ideas (and perhaps inspiration) for taking better pictures.

I’ve also significantly revised the articles on Wide-Gamut Monitors, Color Management, and Browsers and What’s the key to taking great pictures?. There are minor updates and tweaks to several other pages, including the review of Notepad++.

28 February 2013

I’ve added a new illustrated article about the construction of a Tibetan sand mandala last December at Pacific Unitarian Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The monks of the Drepung Loseling Phukhang monastery make annual tours, constructing sand mandalas around the United States. This was the final stop on their 2012 tour. Witnessing the construction (and ritual destruction) of a sand mandala is a special experience. If a sand mandala tour stops anywhere near where you live, it’s worth a trip.

Although I’ve been taking most of my recent pictures with a Canon PowerShot S100 compact camera, photographing the sand mandala called for an SLR camera kit. The existing light inside the church sanctuary hall required ISO 400 or 800 settings that yield subpar image quality with a small-sensor compact camera. Flash would have been an inappropriate alternative. (A single on-camera flash would have given unpleasantly harsh lighting. I was also afraid it would disturb the monks. The latter fear turned out to have been unwarranted— the monks were so intently focused on their sacred task that they didn’t even seem to notice the flashes of other people’s compact cameras.) The ten pictures I selected for the article used long and short focal lengths that are beyond the range of the S100’s lens. The S100 does many things well, but not everything.

I’ve updated the articles on Scanning 110-Format Film (and Kodachrome) and the Pocket Instamatic and 126 Resources page to include some new products. I’ve also updated Ted Tries a Cruise, to clarify some things that had become outdated and confusing since I wrote it in 2007.

14 December 2012

I’ve added a new Travel Photo Essay about Los Angeles City Hall, the iconic 1928 tower that played cameo roles in various television series in the 1950s and 1960s. The page also includes two controversial modern government buildings across the street from (and connected with) City Hall. The 1920s and 1930s Landmarks page for Downtown Los Angeles included an earlier, much shorter section on City Hall. I’ve replaced it with four new pictures of the Los Angeles Times Building, also across the street from City Hall. All the additions add up to 17 new pictures.

Rather than generic “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings,” I’ll specifically wish you and yours (chronologically): Happy Hanukkah, Io Saturnalia, Blessed Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, and/or Happy New Year!

19 November 2012

I’ve added a discussion/review of the Plustek 7600i film scanner. I’ve also added some new pictures scanned with the 7600i:

This page will show you some examples of why I have an ongoing effort to make new versions of pictures I scanned from film a decade (or more) ago.

And finally, as we head into the Holiday Season, please keep in mind that prints of my pictures make excellent gifts!

27 October 2012

Happy Halloween, Samhain, All Saints’ Day, or Reformation Day, as appropriate! (While it’s not new, this pumpkin still life is seasonally appropriate. I took it in 2007 on Naples Island in Long Beach, California.)

I recently spent another weekend in Downtown Los Angeles. I enjoy going there because there’s so much to explore (and to photograph), and also because it’s one of the few places in sprawling, automobile-addled Southern California that’s easily accessible by mass transit and walking. It’s almost like visiting a real city! I’m still working on the pictures I took, but I have a few updates for now.

On the Little Tokyo page, I have a new picture of the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial, which was being refurbished the last time I visited; the Friendship Knot; and the rooftop garden at the DoubleTree Hotel, which has been renamed since the last time I visited.

On the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels page I have two new pictures of the former Saint Vibiana Cathedral (in Little Tokyo). The new picture of the Cathedral’s bell tower takes advantage of the unusual diffuse clouds in the sky that day. There’s also a picture of the former altar, inside what is now a privately-owned space for weddings and events.

In July, my nine-year-old Canon FS4000US film scanner reached the end of its life. I have replaced it with a Plustek 7600i Ai. I’ll have more to say about the new scanner in the future. Its full optical resolution is 7200dpi, but 16-bit files at that resolution from 35mm film are unwieldy to work with in Photoshop. 3600dpi is really more practical for 35mm slides and negatives.

The 7200dpi resolution is useful for 110 film, as it provides more pixels than the 4000dpi Canon scanner. Those additional pixels are helpful for cropping and editing, but I’m not convinced that they carry significant extra detail. I scanned several 110 Kodachrome slides as a test, and added one of them, a scene in the Scottish Highlands, to the Europe Through the Front Door collection. The reduced-size image won’t show the performance of the scanner (or that of the Pocket Instamatic 60’s lens), but it does show that the current version of VueScan renders Kodachrome slides much better than the version I used with the original “Front Door” collection in 2004.

I have also used the new scanner to replace a number of pictures I originally scanned between 2001 and 2003. In particular, the pictures of the Palos Verdes Peninsula that I shot on film are all new versions.

28 September 2012

As my contribution to the hype surrounding the launch of Apple’s new iPhone® and iPod®, I have added four new pictures to the Wallpaper Download page. They’re vertical images in versions optimized for the new 5th generation iPhone and iPod, as well as for earlier editions of these popular devices. Here’s an opportunity to beautify both your smartphone screen and the display on your desktop or laptop computer.

I’ve also updated the articles on Scanning 110-Format Film (and Kodachrome) and A Bestiary of File Formats, and added a second high-contrast black and white abstraction of manicured bushes to the second Fine Art page. [I later moved this picture to Transcending the Familiar.]

1 September 2012

I have reorganized the Travel Photo Essays about the Palos Verdes Peninsula, a scenic coastal suburb of Los Angeles. The main page contains an introductory essay, and a menu for the revised Travel Photo Essays on Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, the iconic Malaga Cove Plaza in Palos Verdes Estates, Cherry Blossoms at the South Coast Botanic Garden in Rolling Hills Estates, and travel notes for visitors.

The Palos Verdes Estates page has four new pictures of the Mirlo Gate Lodge Tower. Seven of the pictures on the Rancho Palos Verdes page are improved versions made from digital camera raw files I took in 2005 and 2007. For reasons I can no longer remember, I converted the original version of Licorice Moss at Point Vicente into simulated infrared black and white. The new version restores the original color (and texture). The new version of Sunset at Point Vicente #1 takes advantage of improvements Adobe made to the Camera Raw raw converter in Photoshop since 2005, which allow a more natural and dramatic rendition of sunsets and other scenes that have a wide range of bright and dark tones. I’ve also added a higher-resolution version of this picture to the collection of Wallpaper downloads.

I added four new pictures to the second Fine Art page. Three of them are studies of a brightly painted fire hydrant and sprinkler control pipe (#1, #2, and #3) in the Still Life and Miscellany section of the Fine Art pages. That’s an “artsy” (and pretentious) way of saying that on my daily early-morning walk I pass an interesting-looking fire-control device outside a building. It’s usually overcast or foggy when I take my walk. But on one clear morning I brought my camera to photograph some details of the device in dawn lighting that intensifies the brilliance of the red paint. The Web versions of these pictures don’t fully capture the intense color, as it’s outside the gamut of the standard sRGB color space. (Here’s an explanation of what that means.) The fourth picture has no color at all. It’s a high-contrast black and white abstraction of some manicured bushes, which I also saw during my morning walk. [I later moved all these pictures to Transcending the Familiar.]

And finally, I updated the Pocket Instamatic and 126 Resources page. A company called Lomography is attempting to resurrect the 1970s-era 110 (“Pocket Instamatic”) film format that Kodak officially killed in 2009.

29 July 2012

I reworked the Travel Photo Essay on Mission San Juan Capistrano. That was one of the first places I visited with my new digital camera in 2005. The new versions of the pictures, processed with my current software and techniques, have much more vibrant color and “snap.” I seem to have done a good job of winnowing the pictures in 2005, as I found only one new image to add.

I also added a new picture of the cliffs in La Jolla, California to the collection of medium-resolution images on the Wallpaper Download page.

1 July 2012

I’ve added a new short Travel Photo Essay on L.A. Live, a futuristic entertainment complex in Downtown Los Angeles.

I’ve completely redesigned the Scenery, Fine Art, and Europe Through the Front Door sections. These “gallery” pages of thumbnail images originally had a fixed format appropriate for the 1024x768 (or smaller) CRT displays that were commonplace when I first set up those pages in 1999. The new design configures itself according to the size of your browser window, and includes captions for each picture. The Fine Art gallery has a new picture of the Wilshire Grand Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, now closed and scheduled for demolition.

I also updated the article about Wide-Gamut Monitors, Color Management, and Browsers, and made some cosmetic improvements to the home page.

12 June 2012

I’ve added a new Travel Photo Essay on the Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, with nine new pictures. There are also three new pictures of Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is across the street from the Music Center.

25 May 2012

I’ve reworked A Nice Day in Old Québec. The pictures are all new scans of the negatives, and significant improvements over the ones I originally made in 2001. You can see an example of the improvement here. This is the latest installment of my ongoing project to update the oldest scans on this Web site.

I’ve also revised and updated the travel notes about visiting the Palos Verdes Peninsula, a scenic coastal enclave southwest of Los Angeles; and Some Pocket Instamatic and 126 Resources.

There are six new pictures:

5 May 2012

I’ve added a new technology article, Raw Demystified. It explains raw files, something many digital camera owners find baffling. I describe exactly what raw files are, and discuss when they might be useful even for people who are happy with the regular JPEG files they get from their cameras.

I’ve also expanded and added nine new pictures to the Travel Photo Essay on the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Downtown Los Angeles. I made a day trip to Downtown Los Angeles last month, and enjoyed much better weather than I had when I first visited the Cathedral last year.

And I’ve made an improved version of Aliakmon Abstract, one of the featured pictures on the home page of this Web site. It’s a detail of the colorful hull of an oil tanker I saw in San Pedro, the port of Los Angeles. The article on raw files explains the reason for the new version.

18 April 2012

Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table has been on the Web for thirteen 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 those visitors order prints or image licenses!

For this lucky anniversary— and just in time for family vacation planning— I have overhauled my Travel Photo Essays about southern Utah. The two original “Utah Parklands” pages were published in December 1999. As I was still defining what this Web site looks like, those pages had a format I never used again. There are now four separate Travel Photo Essays on Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Arches National Parks. A new introductory page includes eight pictures of places outside the parks. I made new digital versions of the original Fujichrome slides, plus 24 new ones. They’re a big improvement over what I did in 1999, with much more vibrant color. (This page has some examples of how my film-scanning tools and techniques have improved over the years.)

I also recently replaced my year-and-a-half-old Canon Powershot S90 with its new successor, the S100. Both of them are “high-end advanced digital cameras” that provide most of the control of a full-sized DSLR— a “digital single lens reflex” camera with interchangeable lenses— in a small package that’s particularly suited to the travel photography I do. Both fit in a shirt pocket, weigh 200 grams, allow full exposure control, have excellent image-stabilized lenses, and can create raw files When used with respect for their inherent limitations, they’re capable of image quality approaching that of a DSLR.

The S100 has a new 12-megapixel sensor, fixes some troublesome ergonomic flaws in the S90, and adds a bunch of new bells and whistles. But for me, the one genuinely compelling reason for the upgrade is the greater range of the lens. The S90’s lens is equivalent to 28-105mm lens on a 35mm camera. The S100 expands that range to 24-120mm. That’s a significant improvement in wide-angle capability, and a less significant but still very welcome extension at the long end. The added versatility makes it closer to the (unattainable) dream of a DSLR that fits in a shirt pocket.

I first tested the new camera on a clear spring afternoon at Malaga Cove Plaza in Palos Verdes Estates. That set of test images yielded replacements for two pictures I had scanned from film years ago, plus three new pictures. A wide-angle shot of the iconic Neptune Fountain demonstrates the camera’s wide-angle extension. Three pictures of details of the plaza’s columns and arches, brickwork, and Neptune Fountain demonstrate the improved telephoto capability. To echo nearly all the reviews, it’s an even better version of a great camera.

4 February 2012

I’ve added a new Travel Photo Essay on Crossroads of the World, a delightful relic of the 1930s in Hollywood. It’s unknown to most visitors, despite being two blocks away from the tourist-swarmed Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. Originally an outdoor shopping mall, it’s now a city block of “unique offices” in Art Deco, Streamline Moderne, and ersatz international styles.

When I visited on a sunny Tuesday afternoon in January, the Hollywood & Highland Center and the surrounding block of Hollywood Boulevard were jam-packed. (Are there really that many people who have “use it or lose it” vacation time from work to use up, as I did?) But I had Crossroads of the World all to myself.

I rode Metro Rail to get there, as it’s a short walk from the Hollywood/Highland Red Line station. That’s much easier than driving. On the way, I stopped at Union Station— another building from the 1930s in the Streamline Moderne style— and took some new pictures that I wasn’t able to take when I was last there in 2010. I’ve added them to an expanded essay on Los Angeles Union Station.

I’ve also updated my review of PaintShop Pro to include the new X4 version.

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