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 I’ve removed outdated links and annotated some entries to indicate where things have moved, but I’ve otherwise left the original text unchanged. I add the annotations when I archive the entries, so in time the annotations may themselves become outdated.

18 April 2015

Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table has been on the Web for sixteen years. It’s exciting to look through the Web site’s log summaries each week and see so many visitors from all over the world. It’s even more exciting when those visitors order prints or image licenses!

My newest Downtown Los Angeles update is a rewritten Travel Photo Essay on Chinatown, with eight new pictures from my brief but “productive” vacation at the end of last year.

22 March 2015

Happy Equinox (last Friday) and Stephen Sondheim’s birthday (today)!

My latest Downtown Los Angeles update is a new section (with four new pictures) about Grand Park added to the updated Los Angeles City Hall Travel Photo Essay.

I also have a new version of Ghost Shack, taken in Lee Vining, California, near Mono Lake. It reveals colors that weren’t visible in the version I made in 2001 (thanks to improved hardware, software, and techniques for creating images scanned from film). I also made a new black and white rendering inspired by classic Tri-X film. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this image works better in color or in black and white.

3 March 2015

I’ve replaced the Downtown Los Angeles 1920s and 1930s Landmarks page with two new Travel Photo Essays. The 1923 Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel now has its own page, to which I’ve added six new pictures. The new Art Deco Landmarks page includes three places from the 1930s: Los Angeles Union Station (with two new pictures), an entirely-new section on the 1931 Southern California Edison headquarters (with eight new pictures), and the Los Angeles Times Building.

I added a new picture, Mount Rundle with Rainbow, to the recently-refurbished Canadian Rockies Travel Photo Essay. It was one of the “outtake” slides from my 1992 trip to Alberta that needed modern digital processing to become a nice picture. I somehow misplaced the initial scan of the slide after I made it.

Finally, I have a new obligatory picture of the Web site owner, replacing one taken in 2008. Because I do most of my traveling alone, opportunities to get pictures of myself are few and far between. Years ago I would sometimes use the self-timer on a tripod-mounted camera to take “I was there” shots, but seeing the results soon extinguished any further interest in selfies. I’m also not comfortable with handing my camera to strangers. But in December I made a quick trip to Downtown Los Angeles with my friend Tim Williams. I handed him my camera while we were at The Last Bookstore.

By the way, if you do like to hand your camera to strangers for pictures of yourself, I suggest buying a “single-use” (disposable) film camera for that purpose. Processing labs can scan the negatives and return JPEG files on a CD, which you can use like the ones you’d get from a digital camera or smartphone. Just don’t put the camera in a bag you check with an airline. The scanners that screen checked baggage emit powerful radiation that will damage unprocessed film (but it won’t harm processed film, prints, or CDs). The scanners for carry-on bags use much lower levels of radiation that should not affect film.

2 February 2015

Happy Groundhog Day, Candlemas, and/or Imbolc! I’ve made the first batch of updates to my Downtown Los Angeles Travel Photo Essays, incorporating pictures from my brief but “productive” vacation in December.

I added to the Downtown Superlatives page a new section on The Last Bookstore, a defiantly eccentric independent bookstore and art gallery. It includes seven new pictures. I also replaced a picture of Robert Graham’s Source Figure that I took in 2011 with a much better new one; and added a new picture of Source Figure’s pedestal, showing its guardian crabs.

The Downtown Public Art page has a new picture of Michael Zapponi’s sculpture, Alchemy of the Human Spirit. It’s one of six works in the sculpture garden outside the Downtown YMCA.

I added to the Victorian Landmarks page a new picture of the Bradbury Building’s skylight, a distinctive feature I somehow neglected to photograph during my previous visit in 2011. I also updated the section on the Angels Flight railway, which has been closed since September 2013.

On the Los Angeles Central Library page, I replaced the two pictures of the building’s rotunda with new and better ones. I also gave Bright Library Tower Reflection (which I added to the Fine Art section last month) a permanent home.

21 January 2015

Happy new year!

When I visited the Korean Friendship Bell with a friend last November, we also visited the Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. I have created a new Travel Photo Essay with eight new pictures of the “glass church,” alongside the four I took in 2002 (I made new versions of them in 2012) that were formerly on the Rancho Palos Verdes page. I’ve also made further updates to my article on Scanning 110-Format Film (and Kodachrome).

31 December 2014

As 2014 recedes into the rear-view mirror, I have made some updates to my article on Scanning 110-Format Film (and Kodachrome). I also added two new “artsy” pictures to the Reflections section of the first Fine Art page: Hall of Administration Reflected and Bright Library Tower Reflection. They’re from a mini-vacation in Downtown Los Angeles that I enjoyed with a friend last week.

I wish all of you a very happy 2015!

15 December 2014

Last month I revisited the Korean Friendship Bell in San Pedro, California. It’s a giant bronze bell, set in a pavilion fashioned and decorated in the dancheong style used in Korea for temples and palaces. The bell was a 1976 Bicentennial gift from the Republic of (South) Korea.

My Travel Photo Essay on San Pedro originally included six pictures of this colorful monument from my previous visit in 2002. The bell and pavilion were refurbished last year. In 2002, the bell had a green patina; and the pavilion’s paint was noticeably weathered and faded. This time, the bell’s relief decorations stood out clearly from the buffed bronze. And the colors of the pavilion’s decorations were too vivid to show in their full intensity in the Web versions of the new pictures. (In technical terms, the colors were outside the gamut of the sRGB color space.)

The new Travel Photo Essay on the Korean Friendship Bell includes seven new pictures. The four pictures remaining from 2002 are “new” versions I made in 2012.

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.

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