Happy Friday the 13th!
Last Saturday I was one of some 21,000 participants in the 10th Annual Worldwide Photowalk®. The event is the brainchild of Scott Kelby, a prolific author of books, articles, and training materials for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. In past years, I’ve participated in walks at the Hermosa Beach Pier and at Pelican Cove in Rancho Palos Verdes, which provided opportunities to meet other local photographers along with new pictures. Last year nobody organized a walk within reasonable driving distance. This year there was a walk not far from me, at a camera store that offers photography classes. As the store is in a rather nondescript retail strip bordering an equally nondescript residential area, I couldn’t imagine what might be worth photographing. The rather vague description on the Web site’s page for the walk offered no clue. But it didn’t cost anything and didn’t involve a long drive, so it was worth taking a chance.
After the eight participants assembled, the organizer revealed the secret. He had invited five models dressed for Halloween, which we would photograph in an adjacent parking lot. Six of the other seven participants apparently had insider knowledge, and were prepared for a model shoot. But I had no idea. And if you spend even a little time exploring this Web site (which I certainly encourage you to do), you’ll see I have neither experience nor particular interest in portraiture or models.
It was far from wasted time, though. I learned how much I don’t know, which can be a valuable lesson in itself. I will thus spare you my attempts at model photography— except for one Halloween-themed image I actually like, even though it’s cheating a bit. I wasn’t the only one who “found” pictures at the venue beyond the official subjects. I have four such “artsy” images: A model’s lace umbrella; the shadows of flowers on a stucco wall; a detail of a rusted hinge on a gate; and a jumble of chain links.
I have three other new pictures with a Halloween theme: A monster with a radiant (green) complexion; a blue wraith; and a skeletal ghost. I’ve also updated the travel note for Downtown Los Angeles, reflecting a new state law that closed a loophole the Los Angeles Police Department used with great success to extract much-needed revenue from Downtown’s pedestrians.
And finally, as we rush headlong into the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, do keep in mind that prints of my pictures make excellent gifts!
Updated the Travel Photo Essay on Victorian Landmarks in Downtown Los Angeles to reflect the reopening of the Angels Flight funicular railway. I also rewrote the essay on proposals to split California to reflect Republican venture capitalist Tim Draper’s announcement of his latest ballot initiative to split California into three states. And the usual crop of small editorial cleanups.
The other update is that this is now a “secure” Web site, as indicated by the green padlock icon in front of the URL in your browser’s address bar. That means any data traveling between the site’s server and your browser is encrypted in both directions, so hackers, criminals, or your Internet provider can’t intercept or alter it.
This encryption is absolutely necessary for any Web site that collects sensitive or personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. If you’re visiting the Web site of a bank, insurance company, merchant, or anyone else that handles your personal or financial data or lets you pay by credit card, it’s essential to look at the address bar to make sure the green padlock icon is present before you enter any information. If it’s not there, or particularly if the browser displays a message that “this site is not secure,” that’s a red flag telling you not to trust the site with your Social Security or credit card number!
As this site does not collect or transmit any sensitive information, encryption doesn’t make much difference to visitors. But I have gone through the expense and hassle of securing it because of Google’s campaign to secure the entire Web. As the owner of the world’s dominant search engine, Google has been actively “encouraging” Web site owners to secure their sites, even if it’s not otherwise necessary: Their search algorithms penalize non-secure sites. Google recently decided to give reluctant Web site owners a friendly nudge by increasing that penalty.
A secure Web site does have one potential advantage, even if it does not handle personal or sensitive information. When you visit a non-secure site, your Internet provider, a hacker, or the United States National Security Agency can track and log every page you view, every file you download, and every comment you left on a message board. With a secure site they can see that you visited tedsimages.com, but not which pages you viewed or anything else you did here. (I could still see what pages you visited if I wanted to dig through the site’s log files. But I would see only the numeric IP address of your computer or router, which I have no way of associating with you. Nobody else has access to those logs, absent a lawful warrant or court order.)
A trip to Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, California last weekend was an opportunity to add ten new pictures to the Travel Photo Essay on Bergamot Station and the Water Garden. I also updated the Los Angeles Travel Notes article.
I rode the Metro Rail Expo Line to Bergamot Station. The long-delayed extension to Santa Monica finally opened just over a year ago. I live in a somewhat isolated corner of Greater Los Angeles that’s poorly served by mass transit. So I had to drive 14 miles (23 kilometers) in the wrong direction to get a Silver Line express bus to Downtown Los Angeles that connected with the eastern terminus of the Expo Line. An alternative would be to drive 13 miles (21 kilometers) in the right direction to the nearest Green Line station, for a much longer trip involving the Green and Blue lines that travel even further in the wrong direction before reaching the Expo Line. The Crenshaw/LAX Metro Rail line currently under construction will connect directly from the Green Line to the Expo Line, making the trip more practical. It’s supposed to open in 2019.
In theory, I could avoid the 14-mile drive to the Silver Line transit hub by riding the only Metro bus line that serves my area. That bus is very slow— it takes more than twice as long as driving— and runs infrequently. But the real problem is that the nearest stop is not within walking distance. There is also no place along the route that allows parking for longer than two hours. Metro’s transit planners apparently intended this bus for commuters whose spouses drop them off and pick them up on their way to work. I would therefore need to pay a neighbor, taxi, or Uber/Lyft driver to bridge that gap. Even Metro’s customer service people admit that’s more trouble than it’s worth. They officially recommend driving to the Green Line or Silver Line stations, which have free parking.
Given all that, you might wonder why I bothered with mass transit. According to Omniscient Google, the 27-mile (43-kilometer) drive to Bergamot Station should take between an hour and an hour and a half on a Saturday morning. That’s assuming “typical” traffic; it doesn’t take much of a disturbance (most often an accident, construction, or debris on the road) to make the drive a lot longer. My trip took just about two hours, including the 14-mile drive. The crucial difference was that I wasn’t stop-and-creeping on clotted freeways, or idling at an endless succession of red lights. The reduced stress alone (on both myself and Mother Earth) is enough reason to prefer mass transit for a trip like this, even if it still requires significant driving.
After I made minor updates to the Waikiki and Oahu Beyond Waikiki Travel Photo Essays last month, I discovered that most of the pictures were prepared in 2002. It was time for a full overhaul. (This page illustrates why.) As I always do when I’m overhauling Travel Photo Essays, I first reviewed the Carousel slide tray containing the “keeper” pictures I winnowed after my trips to Oahu in 1997 and 1998. The pictures I prepared in 2002 came from that slide tray. Then I looked through the boxes of “reject” slides from those trips.
I chose ten new pictures to complement the new and more colorful versions of the old ones. One of them is the 2,000th picture on this Web site. I also updated the higher-resolution wallpaper download of Makapuu Beach. The new version of this picture is available in 1680 x 1050 and 1440 x 900 sizes.
Most of the new pictures are from the Carousel tray, but I could not make satisfactory digital versions of them in 2002. The pictures of the flag and sky at the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and mountain clouds are two examples. Nearly all the slides in the “reject” boxes indeed belong there. But I did find a handful of nice pictures I rejected because of some flaw now easily fixed in Photoshop. For example, this detail of the Byodo-In Temple just needed straightening and cropping. I also discovered one slide that I can’t figure out why I had rejected.
With one notable exception, I actually took all the Oahu pictures on Fuji Superia 400 color negative film. But I had it processed at a lab that made slides from the negatives, printing them on Kodak film intended for making the movie reels (formerly) projected at cinemas. I used that service for nearly all my photography before I switched to a digital camera in 2005. In the pre-digital era, negatives made better enlargements than slides; and it later turned out that negatives are easier to scan with a desktop scanner. Slides gave the sheer visual impact that, even now, only a projected transparency can provide. The slide projector also let me share my pictures before I could even imagine anything like a Web site. Slides made from negative film are among the many photographic technologies made extinct by digital imaging. No lab currently offers that service.
That “one notable exception” is a Kodachrome slide of the “Samoan village” at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I took it in 1982, on my first trip to Hawaii, with a Pocket Instamatic 60 camera. For me, this “tourist” picture recalls the now-extinct vacation slide show. At least in the United States, those slides projected for (and too often inflicted upon) friends and neighbors were most often on Kodachrome film, which became extinct in 2009. I reproduced the original transparency’s “classic Kodachrome look” as faithfully as possible.
I uploaded the first version of Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table to the Web 18 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 updated the Travel Photo Essays on the RMS Queen Mary and Griffith Park in Greater Los Angeles; New San Diego and Balboa Park in San Diego; and Waikiki and Oahu Beyond Waikiki in Hawaii. I’ve also updated the bestiary of image file formats and the article on legacy technology, and made minor updates to several other pages. It’s amazing how quickly external links change or disappear.
I’ve updated the Travel Photo Essay on Victorian Landmarks in Downtown Los Angeles to reflect today’s announcement of an agreement to refurbish and reopen Angels Flight, a funicular railway closed since an accident in 2013. There’s also a new version of Courtyard Through the Arch at Mission San Luis Rey.
I’ve added two new pictures to the Rancho Palos Verdes Photo Travel Essay page. They are nice views from the Vanderlip Park Trail along the cliffs east of Long Point and Terranea that I visited in December. This has been an unusually wet winter in Southern California; but on the days between winter storms there is often very nice light during the early morning and late afternoon “golden hours.”
I’ve added (lucky) 13 new pictures, thanks in large part to the beautiful light often seen in the early morning after a winter storm here in Southern California. First, there are four new pictures I took at the Terranea resort on Long Point in Rancho Palos Verdes.
The other nine, on the two Fine Art galleries, are more “artsy” or abstract, demonstrating that the right light (combined with looking and thinking, as always) can make interesting photographic subjects out of seemingly mundane or ordinary things. First, sunrise light can give the wood frame of a house under construction or bricks in a garden a golden glow. It can also reveal the textures of a paperbark tree trunk, the rough concrete of a cinder-block fence, or the criscross pattern of a furrowed driveway. The low angle of the sun near the Winter Solstice can cast interesting shadows on walls and on an asphalt street. It also enhances the details of two xeriscaped gardens that, here in drought-plagued Southern California, are increasingly replacing the traditional front lawn with a combination of rocks, wood, and drought-tolerant plantings.
Finally, as one of the many people who, for so many reasons, are glad to see 2016 recede into the rear-view mirror, let me wish you and yours a very happy 2017!
Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table made its Web debut on 18 April 1999.