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 I’ve removed outdated links and annotated some entries to indicate where things have moved, but I’ve otherwise left the original text unchanged. I add the annotations when I archive the entries, so in time the annotations may themselves become outdated.

Newer Entries

16 December 2005

Added a new Photo Travel Essay on Mission San Juan Capistrano in Southern California. It includes 20 new pictures, one of which is the 700th picture on this Web site.

To avoid offending the Guardians Of America’s Religious Values with a generic “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings,” I’ll wish you (in chronological order): Io Saturnalia, Blessed Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and/or Happy New Year. And remember that prints of my pictures make excellent gifts!

28 November 2005

I was testing a new Canon 28-135IS lens today at the pier in Redondo Beach, California. Although the pictures were strictly experiments to try out the lens and make sure it works, one of them stood out, especially after I uploaded it into Photoshop and played with it a bit. Via Azul is in the Buildings and Architecture section of the Fine Art 1 page. I also took advantage of the opportunity to update the continually-shifting reopening date of the Point Vicente Interpretive Center on the Palos Verdes Peninsula 2 page, and to replace a few of the pictures of Sedona with improved versions. [“Via Azul” is now part of the Travel Photo Essay on South Bay piers in Los Angeles.]

By the way, the new lens looks like a winner. It’s bulkier than the 28-105 it replaces, but probably a bit sharper. The Image Stabilization seems to work as advertised, with amazingly sharp results at 135mm with a 1/50 sec shutter speed. Combined with my Tokina 12-24, the 28-135 doesn’t gain me much in convenience over the 28-105 (I discuss this problem in a commentary section that I’ll have to update). But after much research I’ve concluded that it’s the best currently-available option.

12 November 2005

After nearly seven years of using Paint Shop Pro for my digital photo post-processing, I have now joined the ranks of Adobe Photoshop users. I fully discuss the reasons for this in an updated review of Paint Shop Pro. I find it very strange that my review appears to be the only one, in print or on the Web, that describes the (undocumented) limitations and deficiencies of the new color management features in Paint Shop Pro X. The “professional” reviews I’ve seen make me suspect that the authors merely rehashed Corel’s promotional materials without actually trying the software.

The transition from Paint Shop Pro to Photoshop CS2 is turning out to be much easier than I expected. That’s mostly because Jasc Software (the original developer of Paint Shop Pro) clearly drew significant “inspiration” from Photoshop for many tools and commands. So it’s more a matter of adjusting to a different approach and user interface than to a different way of doing common tasks. Paint Shop Pro’s user interface is prettier and more polished than Photoshop’s, which still looks exactly like the illustrations in a “Using Photoshop” book published in 1997. But I can well understand why Adobe would be very reluctant to change it.

Photoshop’s color management certainly works, which means I can make better prints with less effort. The wider range of colors in the Adobe RGB color space and 16-bit color also help to make the prints more vibrant. One of the first things I tried was a new 16-bit scan of Blackwater Falls that appears on this site’s home page. It’s a dramatic improvement over the previous version, although that isn’t entirely due to Photoshop. I also have two new digital pictures, Garden Maiden (on the Fine Art 2 page) and Brickwork (on the Fine Art 3 page). I’ll have more new pictures in the near future.

15 October 2005

I’ve reworked the Big Island of Hawaii page with new, more colorful scans of all the pictures, plus four new pictures.

I’ve also revised the review of Paint Shop Pro to reflect what I’ve learned from using the new version, as well as changes Corel has made since its release a month ago. Paint Shop Pro X is more powerful and easier to use than previous versions; but like a lot of software these days it was released prematurely and with very inadequate documentation. In my review I describe various undocumented “secrets” and limitations, information that I hope potential buyers and upgraders will find useful. I will continue to revise it as (I hope) Corel issues patches to fix the unfinished color management and 16-bit color support features.

17 September 2005

I’ve completely rewritten my review of Paint Shop Pro, the image editing program I’ve been using since 1999 to prepare the pictures for this Web site. Corel just released version 10 of this software and I’m quite impressed with it. Along with an improved user interface and numerous bells and whistles, “PSP X” adds real color management and support for 16-bit-per-channel images, important features whose persistent absence in earlier versions has kept Paint Shop Pro from seriously competing with Adobe’s Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.

I’ve also added two new pictures to the Palos Verdes Peninsula 2 page: Point Vicente Lighthouse #2; and Licorice Moss at Point Vicente, which demonstrates Paint Shop Pro X’s new “Infrared Film” tool.

Return to Virtual Light Table Home Page

5 September 2005

Along with some new scans of pictures on the Provence pages, I’ve added two new pictures on the Orange page: Dentelles de Montmirail #2 and Orange Theatre Rehearsal.

1 August 2005

Two new Travel Photo Essay pages on Sedona, Arizona with 34 new pictures. The first page is about Sedona itself. The second is about some places near Sedona, including Slide Rock State Park and Jerome. This trip was the first I’ve made with a digital camera. I’m quite pleased with the results, although I’m still not completely over the learning curve for post-processing the images. It’s a bit different from working with film scans.

I also made extensive revisions to some of the Commentary sections. The most notable is the completely rewritten section on digital cameras. I’ve also updated the section on what I use to discuss some of my new digital equipment, particularly the Tokina 12-24mm zoom lens. And I’ve updated the section on why I avoid flying, including a postscript about my first flight in the Brave New Era (and why it isn’t always practical to avoid flying). [I deleted that postscript during one of several subsequent reworkings of the commentary.]

I’ve made what I hope are useful additions to the Links and Reviews section. I discuss the Canon Digital Rebel XT, the SmartDisk FlashTrax storage device, and RawShooter Essentials, software for processing digital camera raw files. There are also updates to other reviews. [RawShooter Essentials “vaporized” when Adobe bought its developer. I replaced the review with a brief discussion of that demise.]

Finally, I’ve updated the Adjust Your Monitor page with a new “grayscale” target that’s larger and easier to use.

P.S. My Travel Photo Essays intentionally avoid any mention of where I stayed and ate. Because those establishments are subject to frequent changes of ownership, management, and quality, I have no way to assure that what I might say about them remains current, accurate, and useful. But I do think the Rose Tree Inn, where I stayed in Sedona, is worth a mention. I’m putting it here because I delete these “What’s New” entries after a year.

Lodging options in Sedona are mostly divided between luxurious “romantic” resorts (some behind gates) and run-of-the-mill motels for family vacationers of lesser means. The Rose Tree Inn is a very pleasant and reasonably-priced alternative. It’s a five-room “country inn” built around a garden courtyard, on a quiet street so small it doesn’t even show up on the AAA map. But it’s an easy walk to the main tourist shopping strip of Highway 89A. The rooms have very comfortable homelike furnishings, and four of the five have kitchens or efficiencies. For the price of an ordinary motel room I had a studio apartment with a full kitchen.

The Inn is a one-man operation, with Innkeeper Gary Dawson serving as the entire “staff.” He may not always be able to provide the efficiency of a well-regimented hotel operation, but he compensates for that with personal attentiveness and plenty of local information eagerly shared. Cartographers may wince at Gary’s hand-drawn handout map of salient attractions, restaurants, and grocery stores in the area, but I found it more useful— and referred to it more often— than any published guidebook or map. Other amenities include wireless Internet access (or a computer in the office for those who don’t bring their own laptops), plus videotape players and an extensive tape library.

As a solo traveler I found the Rose Tree Inn nearly ideal. I think it would also be a fine secluded getaway for a couple interested in exploring the Sedona area rather than spending a lot of money on resort or spa amenities. Their Web site has pictures that, for once, are accurate and honest; but you really do have to walk a few meters away from the buildings to see the red rocks.

While I’m at it, I should also mention Wildflower Bread Company. Yes, they have an impressive array of “artisan breads,” rolls, pastries, and sweets. But their sandwiches and salads are a tasty answer to fast food when you want a good casual, no-frills meal. They also have very good pancakes for breakfast. The prevalence of ingredients like pesto, feta cheese, and caramelized onions originally had me believing the place was local to Sedona (and perhaps had moved there from California). But while doing research for the Sedona Travel Photo Essay I discovered it was a chain with seven other locations in Arizona.

26 June 2005

I visited Sedona, Arizona earlier this month. I’m now at work on selecting and editing the pictures of the scenic red rocks, along with a new Travel Photo Essay. I’m also working on some necessary revisions to my commentaries on digital cameras (as this was my first “all-digital” trip) and why I avoid flying (as it was the first time I’ve flown in nearly five years). But for now I’ve updated the Indian Country Travel Photo Essay with four new (digital) pictures of Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle National Monuments, Sinagua Indian ruins south of Sedona. Stay tuned.

9 May 2005

The Palos Verdes Peninsula near Los Angeles is a great place for testing a new camera. I’ve added two new pictures from my latest batch of tests: Spring Flowers in Palos Verdes and King Neptune. I’ve also reorganized the two Palos Verdes Peninsula pages.

Return to Virtual Light Table Home Page

1 May 2005

I am officially no longer a (cheapskate) Luddite, having just purchased a Canon Digital Rebel XT (called the 350D in Europe and, so help me, the Kiss Digital n in Japan). I am still quite early on in the learning curve, and I still haven’t assembled all the associated equipment I need for travel. But my first impression is of amazement at the convenience, versatility, and image quality a digital SLR offers. I’m pretty sure that a 4000dpi scan of a good negative has visible detail that isn’t in an equivalent 8-megapixel file from a digital camera. But the difference is likely to be visible only at high “pixel peeping” magnification. The digital camera does amazingly well despite the lower pixel count, and sensor noise even at ISO 400 is much less noticeable than film grain— it’s a particular pleasure to see smooth blue sky (and an even greater pleasure not to spend all that time squinting at dust “hickeys” and scratches in film scans).

I’ll certainly be writing a full account of my impressions of the “XT” (and rewriting some of the Commentary sections) in due time. But as a start, I have three new (digital) pictures. Kitesurfers at Malaga Cove and Malaga Cove Tower Detail are on the Palos Verdes Peninsula 1 page. Grand Old Potties is on the Fine Art 3 page.

19 February 2005

I updated several sections of the Commentary pages. In particular, I discuss my approach to writing Travel Photo Essays and, in this era of Moral Values and Decency, address the question of whether this Web site is appropriate for the whole family (the short answer is yes, but young children probably won’t find it very interesting because it’s written for grown-ups). I also added some new material to the section on freaky weather and travelling alone, plus various other minor updates.

There are also three new pictures: Lake Almanor on the Scenery page, Meadow on the Fine Art 2 page, and Red Square Fence (in San Diego’s Heritage Park) on the Fine Art 1 page. Also on the Fine Art 1 page is a new and more dramatic scan of Montana Bales.

29 January 2005

I was surprised to discover that one of the most popular pages on this site is a technically-oriented feature about scanning 110-format slides. It shares what I learned by trial and error while scanning a collection of 1970s-vintage Kodachrome slides for the Europe Through the Front Door pages. But I also discuss the options for scanning 110 negatives, a task made complicated because almost no scanners provide a negative holder for this 16-millimeter film.

Most of the search queries related to that page were some variation on “scanning 110 negatives.” There were also quite a few looking for information about scanning the older 126 film. I have thus expanded the discussion of 110 negatives, added some notes about the 126 “Instamatic” format, added internal links to make navigation easier, and renamed the page Scanning 110-Format Film (and Kodachrome). There doesn’t seem to be much on the Web about any of these topics, so I hope I’ve made the page a helpful resource.

The “Pocket Instamatic” and other 110-format cameras were tremendously popular in the 1970s and early 1980s. The negatives those cameras took hold a great many fading snapshot memories that can’t easily be converted to digital form. Judging by the interest in my page, there seems to be much more demand for 16mm negative holders than scanner manufacturers realize. If you have a collection of 110 negatives, it might be worthwhile to contact your favorite scanner manufacturer and let them know.

15 January 2005

I finally finished three new Photo Travel Essay pages about San Diego: Old San Diego, New San Diego, and Balboa Park. Those pages feature 50 new pictures (one of which is the 600th picture on this Web site), plus four pictures formerly on the Fine Art pages that now have a permanent home. This project took an unexpectedly long time because I was selecting pictures not only from the 400 or so that I took in October, but from the trays of slides I took on previous trips to San Diego. I hope you enjoy the result.

8 November 2004

I took a trip to very photogenic San Diego last month. I’m hard at work preparing a new Photo Travel Essay from the resulting pictures. One of the things San Diego’s tourist office touts is the “near perfect” weather. But during the week before my trip, the National Weather Service was issuing increasingly dismal forecasts of unseasonable clouds, fog, and rain. Still, I decided to follow my own advice (specifically that “given the notorious imprecision of meteorology, a mere forecast of rain or overcast is not a reason to cancel”) and went anyway. Fortunately, the forecasters were about 93% wrong— it was beautiful the whole time, except for one cloudy morning (which, contrary to the forecast, turned into a beautiful clear afternoon).

I took advantage of that cloudy morning to photograph some colorful, weather-beaten wooden dinghies on a beach at Tidelands Regional Park in Coronado. Soft overcast light is ideal for such things. Since these pictures really don’t fit in a Photo Travel Essay, I put three of them on a Fine Art page. The pictures are Dinghy Hull, Red Dinghy, and Oars. [These moved to the Coronado page when I reworked the collection of Photo Travel Essays on San Diego in 2009.]

More to come....

28 October 2004

I made some fairly extensive revisions to the Commentary pages. Highlights include updating the About Photography section to make it more useful for digital camera users; and updating the About Film and Processing section to reflect the latest games Kodak’s infamous marketeers are playing. I also revised the Links and Reviews pages to reflect Corel’s acquisition of Jasc Software (Paint Shop Pro), the status of the discontinued Canon FS4000US Scanner, and some recent updates to other reviewed items.

Stay tuned for some interesting new pictures.

22 September 2004

Happy Equinox! I have added two new pictures to the Scenery page, Way Down Upon the Downie River and Downieville Forks. I took both of these in the northern California gold-rush town of Downieville. In honor of the Autumnal Equinox, there are also new improved scans of Autumn in the Canyon and Appalachian Autumn. I also updated the Commentary section on Digital Cameras and the Links and Reviews section on Paint Shop Pro.

Return to Virtual Light Table Home Page

22 August 2004

Added a new picture, Cactus Garden, to the Fine Art 2 page, plus a new (and much better) scan of Springer Spaniels on the Fine Art 3 page. [“Springer Spaniels” is now in the Travel Photo Essay on Balboa Park in San Diego, where I took the picture.]

Updated the Links and Reviews page with a discussion of iCorrect EditLab Pro 4.5, the latest enhanced upgrade of this very useful photo editing tool. Made some minor updates to several travelogues.

1 August 2004

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this update might add up to an image or two.

I reorganized the Links and Reviews pages to make them easier to use. Updated the review of the Opera Browser with some recent developments, and the review of the Canon FS4000US Scanner to reflect its apparent discontinuation. Added a new review of Terabyte Unlimited Image for Windows, a shareware drive-image backup program that can write directly to DVD burners from both Windows and DOS (a feat the expensive shrink-wrapped products from Symantec and NTI can’t quite manage). Made some minor updates to the article on scanning 110-format slides, and added a link that might help if you’re looking for ways to scan 110-format negatives.

I also reorganized some of the Commentary pages, most notably the Travelling With a Camera section. I revised the section about why I avoid flying (just in time for summer vacation season), and broke out the “aside” on Avoiding Frustration Over Film and X-Rays into a separate section to make it more helpful.

12 July 2004

Corrected a mistake on the Palos Verdes Peninsula 1 page. Someone who lived in the area wrote to tell me that a picture I thought was of Point Vicente Park is actually Rocky Point, the north side of Lunada Bay. I corrected that error, updated the description for the picture of the south end of Lunada Bay, and also updated the page to reflect the delayed reopening of the Point Vicente Interpretive Center. I always appreciate when someone calls an error to my attention, since I like my travelogues to be accurate and informative.

21 June 2004

Happy solstice! Continuing with the pictures of Utah, I have added two new ones. The first is a black and white version of Chimney Rock (along with the color slide from which I made it) in Capitol Reef National Park. The second is a nearly abstract view of pink and red rocks along the Zion Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park. I have also revised the Notes on Black and White Photography page.

7 June 2004

I replaced all the pictures on the first Utah Parklands page with new scans. The original scans were some of the oldest on this Web site (from 1999). The new versions do much better justice to the original Fujichrome slides, with improved color and luminosity. In the process, I added four new pictures, plus one more (of the Sevier River in southern Utah) on the Scenery page. I also updated the Links and Reviews pages and some of the Commentary pages, including a rewritten section on why I avoid flying.

18 April 2004

Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table has been on the Web for five years. It’s exciting to look through the log summaries each week and see so many people from all over the world visiting my site, along with the astonishing variety of search queries that lead them to its pages. It’s even more exciting when some of those visitors order prints or image licenses :). I hope to continue improving this site. And I always welcome and appreciate feedback about how I can make it more interesting and informative.

I added two new “wallpaper” images (Canyon de Chelly Tour and Makapuu Beach, plus a new version of Lahaina Sunset) that you can download to sample my pictures at a higher resolution. Like the other five “wallpaper” files, these pictures are specially cropped to fit common screen sizes as a desktop background.

I also completely rewrote the commentary section on digital cameras, and added a review of NeatImage (noise reduction software) to the Links and Reviews page.

14 March 2004

I added 24 new pictures of Britain to the Europe Through the Front Door pages. I also added a technically-oriented page about scanning 110-format slides, based on my experiences with preparing the pictures for “Europe Through the Front Door.” Some of the information should also be useful for scanning 35mm Kodachrome slides.

I made some updates to the Links and Reviews pages, in particular revealing the “secret” version of iCorrect EditLab for Paint Shop Pro that isn’t mentioned on PictoColor’s Web site. I also updated the Commentaries pages, notably to reflect Kodak’s replacement of Portra 400UC with Ultra Color 400 (which probably is the same film) and the latest reasons to avoid flying.

10 February 2004

Added a new section, Europe Through the Front Door. I took thousands of pictures while on vacations in Europe between 1972 and 1976. These are 28 of the most interesting ones.

The title is a play on Europe Through the Back Door, a guidebook (and subsequent television series and tour company) by Rick Steves. He emphasizes lesser-known sights and inexpensive accommodations that are supposed to provide a glimpse into the “real Europe” while also saving money. Steves is perhaps the 21st century’s reincarnation of Arthur Frommer, whose Europe on $5 a Day convinced millions of Americans in the 1970s that they could afford to visit Europe. (Frommer is still around, but the books that now bear his name have gone significantly upscale.) Some (but not all) of my family’s European adventures involved packaged tours and motorcoaches (a great bargain for those whose tastes weren’t as Spartan as Frommer’s recommendations) that visited Europe “through the front door.”

28 January 2004

While working on a project I “discovered” four interesting plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop and Jasc Paint Shop Pro. I’ve added reviews of them to the Links and Reviews pages.

4 January 2004

Happy new year! Added a new picture to the Orange page in Provence: View from the Theatre. Made numerous updates to the Commentary and Links and Reviews pages, along with various minor updates (and a few corrections) to other pages.

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