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 I’ve removed outdated links and annotated some entries to indicate where things have moved, but I’ve otherwise left the original text unchanged. I add the annotations when I archive the entries, so in time the annotations may themselves become outdated.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 uploaded the first version of Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table to the Web seventeen years ago today. 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!
I’ve overhauled my Travel Photo Essay on the Courthouse in Santa Barbara, California, touted as “the most beautiful government building in the United States.” While I haven’t visited enough government buildings to assess the validity of that claim, it is definitely distinctive and beautiful enough to be a reason for a visit to Santa Barbara. I made new versions of all the pictures, replacing the ones I had prepared soon after my visits in 2001 and 2003. (This page illustrates why that matters.) Along with the improved pictures, I’ve completely rewritten the text and added five new pictures.
I’ve also given the Catalina Island page a makeover with new text and layout, and “remastered” all the pictures. I had made 4000 dpi scans of the original negatives in 2006 and 2007 for the previous version. I fortunately saved preliminary versions of those scanned files that included all the preparation, but not the color correction and other “artistic” work that makes a picture. (Preparation of film scans includes cropping, straightening, grain reduction, and the painstaking chore of cleaning up the little dust spots and scratches that inevitably end up on film scans even with automatic infrared cleaning. Images from a digital camera require much less preparatory scut work.) Using these “prepared” files let me make much better new versions that take advantage of my current “artistic” tools and techniques without the tedious effort of making and preparing new scans. I also added one picture I hadn’t included in the previous edition.
As seven of the Catalina pictures were from a visit to Avalon on a cruise in 2007, I decided to “remaster” the other pictures illustrating my story of that trip (“Ted Tries a Cruise”). I also updated the page with the subsequent history and current status of the ship— formerly Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas— so that readers seeking information about either the ship or the cruise won’t be confused.
Happy Leap Day! I hope you’ve taken full advantage of this quadrennial boon.
I have overhauled my Travel Photo Essay on Christo’s Umbrellas, which I originally wrote in 2002. The Umbrellas was one of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s large-scale works of “environmental art.” It involved 1,760 large yellow umbrellas placed along 29 kilometers of Interstate Highway 5 at the Tejon Ranch 100 kilometers north of Los Angeles, along with 1,340 blue umbrellas in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. The umbrellas were on display for 18 days in October 1991. I was one of the estimated 3 million visitors to the California site.
The reworked Travel Photo Essay includes new versions of the four pictures in the original essay (this page illustrates why that matters), four new pictures (making good digital versions of those slides was too challenging with the resources I had 14 years ago), and completely rewritten text.
I have overhauled my Travel Photo Essay on Mono Lake and Bodie, in the eastern Sierra region of California. (Mono Lake offers distinctive scenery and ecology. Bodie is a Wild West ghost town north of Mono Lake, preserved in a state of “arrested decay.”) This was one of the first four Travel Photo Essays I wrote for this Web site when it debuted in April 1999. Although I added two new pictures to it in 2003, the page had remained just as I originally wrote it. I’ve now made new versions of all the pictures— this page illustrates why that matters— added eight new pictures, and completely rewritten the text.
One of the new pictures is a rather nice panorama of Mono Lake and two of its tufa formations. Although the Kodak Stretch camera (later renamed Fun Saver Panoramic 35) that made pictures in this format was in fashion when I visited Mono Lake in 1994, I used my normal Canon camera and wide-angle lens for this picture. The Kodak Stretch was a disposable camera with a plastic lens that wasn’t very sharp.
I’ve finished my new Travel Photo Essay on the Broadway Theatre District in Downtown Los Angeles. Broadway, a major north-south thoroughfare, once had the largest concentration of entertainment venues (vaudeville theatres that became cinemas) in the country, built from the 1910s through the 1930s. As the focal point of moviegoing shifted first from Downtown to Hollywood and then to multiplexes in suburban shopping malls, and as Downtown itself declined, these opulent movie palaces fell into decay. Along with Downtown, the Broadway Theatre District is now undergoing a rebirth. This is an interesting time to visit and photograph Broadway, as it transitions from gritty decrepitude to what will probably end up as a sanitized upscale theme-park version of its historic self. My Travel Photo Essay includes 33 new pictures of 11 locations.
I intentionally avoid any discussion of restaurants in my Travel Photo Essays. Those establishments are prone to changing ownership, menu, and/or quality, or even disappearing. It’s just too difficult to keep that information up to date, even if I’m not writing about somewhere far away. But if I’m particularly impressed with a restaurant I’ll mention it here in the “What’s New” section, as I archive entries after a year. On my trips to explore Broadway, I enjoyed two lunches at Crêpes Sans Frontières in the Arcade Building. Their speciality is galettes, buckwheat savory crepes that are a traditional staple in Brittany. They also have panini (a European pressed sandwich), croque-monsieur and croque-madame (traditional French grilled cheese sandwiches), salads, and the familiar dessert crepes. The owner is French, so the menu is probably as authentic as you’re likely to get. If you’re anywhere near Downtown, it’s well worth a trip! Also in the Arcade Building is Gelateria Uli, which offers “small batch gelato and sorbetto” (Italian ice cream and sherbet) “made in-house everyday.” It’s an extravagance in dollars as well as calories, but truly delectable.
Finally, as 2015 recedes into the rear-view mirror, let me wish you and yours a very happy 2016!
I made two trips to Downtown Los Angeles this month. Besides being a fascinating place to walk around and photograph, Downtown is one of the very few places in Southern California where getting there on public transportation is not only feasible, but preferable. Even though the only practical way to get to that public transportation from where I live is to drive 14 miles (23km) to the nearest transit center with a parking lot, that’s still much better than doing the stressful stop-and-creep on some of the most congested roads in the country.
I have expanded the Downtown Art Deco Landmarks Travel Photo Essay to include the Title Guarantee and Trust and Eastern Columbia buildings, and moved Union Station to its own page. I added new pictures of City Hall and Grand Park to the Travel Photo Essay that I’ve renamed City Hall and Civic Center. (I’m particularly pleased with a new picture of one of City Hall’s corridors of power, rendered in brooding black and white. Grand Park, the improved pedestrian mall between City Hall and the Music Center, offers many “artsy” details to capture with a camera. Two new examples are a park bench and the abstract colorful textured floor of a children’s playground.) I also expanded the Los Angeles Biltmore page, including an “artsy” exterior abstract that fortuitously appeared as I was walking down 5th Street.
I also spent some time exploring Downtown’s historic Broadway theatre district, a collection of theatres and movie palaces from the early 20th century in various states of decay and restoration. I’m working on a Travel Photo Essay about it, which may require one more trip to complete. But for now I have two pictures of the former United Artists theatre (now the Ace Hotel) on Broadway at Ninth Street, as “artistically” reflected in the windows of the California Market Center at Olympic Boulevard and Main Street. They’re temporarily in the “Reflections” section of the first Fine Art page. I’ve added a total of 36 new pictures for this update.
And finally, rather than offering the generic “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” that, amazingly, some people now consider offensive, I’ll specifically wish you and yours (in chronological order): Happy Hanukkah, Io Saturnalia, Blessed Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, and/or Happy New Year!
I was one of some 21,000 participants in Scott Kelby’s 8th 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 the thousand photo walks around the world began at Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The group headed south to Pelican Cove, a beautiful shoreline park that I never knew existed even though it’s only about 4km from where I live.
Although this photo walk was hampered by overcast sky— it’s an unavoidable Law of Nature that dull light makes dull pictures— a break in the clouds near sunset provided about two minutes of rather nice golden light. I’ve added four new pictures to my Travel Photo Essay on Rancho Palos Verdes, including the shoreline and the rocky beach. There’s also an “artsy” abstract detail of a colorful fence post on the steep trail from the cliff top to the beach.
Although they’re not new, let me point out my favorite seasonal images of Halloween pumpkins. One is of actual pumpkins on doorstep of a house in the Naples section of Long Beach, California. The other is a pair of 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!
This update is mainly about catching up with history. My Travel Photo Essays on the California missions at San Juan Capistrano, La Purisima, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara noted the beatification of Father Junípero Serra, the founder of California’s missions. Pope John Paul II (now a saint himself) declared this penultimate step toward sainthood in 1988. During his visit to the United States last week, Pope Francis canonized Father Serra as a saint— and perhaps unintentionally renewed a longstanding debate about the treatment of Indians during the Spanish Colonial era.
A much less significant event occurred a week after I updated my review of Corel PaintShop Pro to bring it up to date with version X7. Corel sent (and continues to send) a barrage of e-mails to current and former customers touting the release of the next version, X8. I have added appropriate notes to my review, which should remain current for a year.
Finally, while reviewing a forgotten tray of slides that I have no plans to publish here, I discovered a rather nice picture of fallen flowers. I know I took it in 1990, since that’s stamped on the slide mount. But I have no recollection of where or why I took it. I also have a new version of Cactus Garden, taken at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino, California.
I’ve overhauled my two Travel Photo Essays on Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada. All the pictures have been improved by processing the original raw files from 2006 with my current software and techniques. (This page illustrates why I rework older versions of pictures.) I’ve added five new pictures, including a new picture of Fannette Island. I also replaced a simulated black and white infrared image of Emerald Bay (originally created with a then-new tool in PaintShop Pro X) with a version that simulates the now-extinct palette of color infrared film (using Google’s Color Efex Pro).
I’ve updated my review of Corel PaintShop Pro, to put in what might be called a state of arrested decay. I last updated it in February 2012. But I haven’t had much interest in downloading and evaluating trial versions of the three annual updates Corel put out since then. That said, I do think the “historical” discussion remains relevant, since it describes how Corel sold me Adobe Photoshop, and raises what remain valid questions about Corel’s commitment to releasing high-quality software.
I’ve updated two Travel Photo Essays on Downtown Los Angeles to reflect some recent changes. Downtown Superlatives now describes the plans the new owner of the Library Tower announced this month, to add an observation deck and restaurant. The L.A. Live page now reflects last month’s official renaming of the former Nokia Theatre and Nokia Plaza. I’ve also given the E-mail and Privacy page a long-overdue revision.
And finally, I have a new “artsy” black and white abstract image from the Nevada shore of Lake Tahoe.
I’ve updated several articles about photographic technology. The Bestiary of File Formats now includes WebP, Google’s entry in the JPEG-replacement derby. I’ve also revised the companion article about DNG (Adobe’s archival format for camera raw files). I’ve made several updates and corrections to the popular article on Scanning 110-Format Film (and Kodachrome), along with Some Pocket Instamatic and 126 Resources.
Happy Solstice! Just in time for the family vacation season, I’ve overhauled my Travel Photo Essay on Yellowstone National Park. There are seven new pictures and improved versions of three others. I’ve rewritten the text and updated the “large” versions of all the pictures to the size I currently use. I’ve also updated my Los Angeles Travel Notes, and made editorial improvements to various other pages.
I recently looked through the boxes of “outtake” slides from my 1991 trip to Yellowstone National Park. The only “buried treasure” I found was a rather nice picture of Beaver Lake, a small seasonal lake on Obsidian Creek, along the Norris Basin to Mammoth Hot Springs section of the Grand Loop Road. I relegated it to the outtake box because the slide was slightly overexposed. (Yes, I did bracket the shot with three different exposures. This was the “2/3 under” version.) I couldn’t do much about that in 1991, but it’s easily fixed today. The picture is temporarily on the Scenery page until I finish an overhaul of the Yellowstone Travel Photo Essay.
I also added two new pictures to the Los Angeles Biltmore Travel Photo Essay. I found them while testing on1’s Perfect Browse, currently available as a free promotional offer. Perfect Browse is a photo browser that can display, sort, tag, and view a collection of image files (including raw files) much faster than Adobe Bridge. It doesn’t have Bridge’s integration with Adobe Camera Raw (though it can send images to Photoshop), and it doesn’t seem to support dual monitors (thumbnails on one screen, selected individual images on the other). But its sheer speed when displaying raw files (including ones converted to DNG) makes up for those omissions.
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!
Happy Equinox (last Friday) and Stephen Sondheim’s birthday (today)!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.