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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 I’ve removed outdated links and annotated some entries to indicate where things have moved, but I’ve otherwise left the original text unchanged. I add the annotations when I archive the entries, so in time the annotations may themselves become outdated.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 2023

Today is Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table’s 24th anniversary. If you’re inclined to celebrate this admittedly un-momentous occasion, you might explore the Web site with the site map or the index of pictures, or see how my digital technique has improved over the years.

While transferring files to a new computer, I discovered a picture I took in Grand Teton National Park. I had scanned the negative in 2011 when I overhauled that Travel Photo Essay, but somehow forgot about it. The “raw” TIFF image file from the scanner had been quietly sitting in a folder for 13 years. I don’t know why I abandoned this scan, as a bit of cropping was all it took to make it a rather nice picture. I finished processing it and added Grand Teton Autumn to the Travel Photo Essay page.

I’ve also made improved versions of two pictures I took 40 years ago at the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia: “Garden Path #1” and “Garden Path #2.” The first one has long been a particular favorite of mine. I’ve had various optical prints and digital versions of it over the years, but I never was able to get the color and cropping quite right until now.

The large versions of all three of these “new” pictures are in the WebP format. WebP seems most likely to finally supplant the three-decade-old JPEG file format. It’s enough of an improvement over JPEG that I’ve decided to use it for the “large” versions of all new pictures on this Web site from now on. (The smaller thumbnail versions on the Travel Photo Essay, Scenery, and Fine Art pages will remain in JPEG.) Now that every current browser supports it, and it’s estimated that at least 97% of all desktop and mobile computer users can view it, there’s no longer any reason not to use WebP. I have accordingly updated my Bestiary of File Formats to reflect this change, and to update the status of the competitors to WebP.

I have also updated Some Pocket Instamatic and 126 Resources to discuss a new reloadable 126 cartridge. I’ve also updated my review of Take Command, a superior command line interpreter for Windows that I’ve used in various versions since 1990.

10 December 2022

Southern California isn’t known for fall foliage. Leaf-peepers need to drive north for a few hours to the eastern Sierra Nevada region. But in late autumn, when nighttime temperatures can get quite chilly, some trees shed colorful leaves. That gift isn’t always a welcome one if the leaves cover the adjacent sidewalk and parallel parking spaces, but it can make beautiful photographs like these two: A luminous leaf caught in the fronds of a cycad, backlit by a partly-cloudy sky. And a rock garden that an adjacent tree transformed into a river of leaves.

Let me wish you and yours (in chronological order) Chag Urim Sameach, IO SATVRNALIA, Blessed Solstice, Merry Christmas, Heri za Kwanzaa, and as 2022 recedes in the rear-view mirror, a very happy 2023!

22 October 2022

A late (in all senses of the word) addition to the Halloween Haunts gallery: A skull in a flower bed enjoying the morning light.

13 October 2022

It’s ghost and goblin season once again. This year’s additions to the Halloween Haunts gallery include a pumpkin scarecrow and a green witch’s smile. Along the way I spotted some colorful plantings among the gray and white zigzags of concrete walls and steps. The last one has nothing to do with Halloween, but I thought it made an interesting composition. The “larger” versions of all these pictures— what you see when you click on a small picture on a gallery page or on one of the links above— are in Google’s WebP format. Any reasonably modern browser should be able to display them, but you won’t be able to see them on an old iPhone or iPad that can’t be updated to at least iOS 14.

I’ve also updated the essay about the Los Angeles Police Department’s War on Jaywalking on the Main Downtown Los Angeles page to include recent state legislation that effectively abolishes jaywalking enforcement starting on 1 January 2023. I’ve also added a cautionary note to 20 Years on the Web discussing the change in ownership of Endurance International Group and the subsequent deterioration of its Web hosting “brands,” and made a few minor adjustments to Some Pocket Instamatic and 126 Resources.

15 June 2022

I’ve completely redone the Yellowstone in Black and White Travel Photo Essay. The pictures previously on that page were the oldest scanned images on this Web site, dating back to 2001. The new versions have a gentler contrast curve that reveals more detail, as well as more of the texture that makes black and white images distinctive. I’ve also added three pictures to the collection. The new scans are part of my ongoing effort to replace the oldest scanned images with improved versions. You can read an illustrated discussion of why I’ve been doing that.

The “larger” versions of all these pictures— what you see when you click on a small picture in the Travel Photo Essay— are in Google’s WebP format rather than the JPEG format I’ve been using since 1999. WebP compresses images much more efficiently than JPEG, which is now 30 years old. That means better image quality with smaller files. Various companies and organizations have been attempting to replace JPEG with new file formats for more than 20 years. WebP now seems to be emerging as the leading contender for finally consigning JPEG (along with GIF and PNG) to the “legacy” boneyard. You can read more about WebP and its competitors in the updated Bestiary of File Formats.

All current browsers support WebP. But a few people won’t be able to see those pictures. (The small versions in the Travel Photo Essay are still JPEG, which even the oldest browsers can display.) Apple’s Safari browser didn’t support WebP until 2020, with the release of MacOS “Big Sur” for Macintoshes and iOS 14 for iPhone and iPad. An old Mac that can’t be upgraded to “Big Sur” can display WebP images by using a different browser. (I recommend Vivaldi for numerous reasons beyond WebP support. It’s also available for Windows, Linux, and Android.) But old iPhones and iPads that can’t be upgraded to iOS 14 will never be able to see WebP images; they’re stuck with an older version of Safari even if a different browser is installed. I offer my apologies to users of those devices. Users of Microsoft’s antiquated Internet Explorer also won’t be able to see WebP pictures. But they have my condolences rather than apologies. (The only reason to use Internet Explorer is to access very old corporate Web applications that refuse to allow any other browser.)

Finally, I’ve completely rewritten Some Notes on Black and White Photography to bring it up to date, and also to add a simple explanation of how film works.

23 May 2022

I have extensively updated the Bestiary of File Formats to add three additional “animals” and to update the status of several others in the “zoo.”

18 April 2022

Today is Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table’s 23rd anniversary. To celebrate, you can read about some of the history of this site and see how my digital technique has improved over the years. Or better yet, explore the Web site with the site map or the index of pictures.

I have updated Some Pocket Instamatic and 126 Resources to add three “groovy” new color negative films from Lomography. Officially called “The Lomographic Society International,” Lomography is “a globally-active organization dedicated to analogue, experimental, and creative photography.” They’re currently the only source for 110 (Pocket Instamatic) film. In the process of adding those new films to their shopping Web site, they broke all the links to the four previously-available films. I have made the appropriate corrections. I’ve also restored the links to relevant sections of the Frugal Photographer Web site, which seemed to have disappeared.

18 February 2022

I’ve updated the articles about scanning 110 film and Kodachrome slides and the collection of resources for 110 and 126 cameras. Most notably, files for printing a film holder for 110 negatives on a 3D printer are now available for free download. The holder is intended for the Nikon Coolscan V film scanner, but it might also work with other Nikon scanners. I’ve updated the e-mail and privacy page to add information about public domain name servers (DNS) that don’t collect personal information and might be faster than the one your Internet provider offers. I’ve also updated the page about my 2007 cruise to include the demise of the Monarch of the Seas, which was scrapped after the Covid-19 pandemic bankrupted its final owner. There are also updates to dead or changed links on various pages.

16 October 2021

This time of year, I enjoy walking around my neighborhood enjoying (and photographing) the Halloween decorations. This year, the decorations are noticeably fewer and less elaborate than in past years. But I still found two photogenic scenes: A spider guarding a pumpkin and an over-eager skeleton.

I’ve also added three new “artistic” pictures I’ve taken during the past few months: A lawn, chain, and shadow and a weathered bell, both of which are really about the texture-enhancing effect of early morning light. And a sleeping angel statue in a secluded garden.

Jim Popenoe of Trinidad, California sent me a message to let me know that Patrick’s Point State Park has just been renamed Sue-meg State Park. I have accordingly updated my Travel Photo Essay on the Redwood Coast in northern California, which includes Trinidad and Sue-meg and fully describes what led to the renaming. While doing that update, I went back to the archived raw files of the pictures I took during my visit in 2008 and found three new pictures, which I’ve added to the page.

I’ve updated my reviews of Take Command and the Notepad++ text editor to add information about using them with Linux and the wine “compatibility layer” that allows many Windows programs to run on Linux. I’ve also added a note to my obsolete article about installing Notepad++. I would delete that page, but Google informs me that people still regularly visit it.

6 September 2021

Two pages on this site that are consistently popular with human visitors— as opposed to the ever-increasing barrage of robots looking to hack the site and/or steal my content— concern the once-ubiquitous 110 (“Pocket Instamatic”) film. I have an article about scanning 110 film and Kodachrome slides, and a collection of resources for 110 and 126 (the original Instamatic) cameras. I updated these pages earlier this year, but since then an unusual proportion of prices have changed, and links have moved or completely disappeared. I have made the appropriate updates and deletions.

1 August 2021

I was starting to make plans to go out and photograph some new wonders in my Southern California “backyard.” But thanks to the torrent of misinformation that has convinced millions of Americans to refuse vaccination, masks, and other measures to contain a virus that cares nothing about partisan politics, the Delta variant seems poised to send us back to prison.

That said, I have three updates. Back in April I had updated my article on DNG, Adobe’s attempt to create a standard format for digital camera raw files, to reflect an inexplicably nonsensical change Adobe made. They had moved their download of free software that converts camera raw files into DNG to a repository of resources for software developers who write plug-ins and extensions for Adobe products. Accessing that repository requires an Adobe account, which requires divulging your date of birth (to allow access to “age-appropriate content”) and accepting tracking cookies. If you don’t want to do that, you can access it with your Google, Apple, or Facebook login. It seems I wasn’t the only one who complained about that absurdity. Adobe has now restored access to this (family-friendly) software without the need for any login credentials.

I’ve also updated the Bestiary of File Formats and the Travel Photo Essay on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California (to include the latest episode of its sordid soap opera).

23 April 2021

Right after I published the last update I discovered that Adobe (the developer of Photoshop) had changed the procedure for downloading their “free” DNG converter— and not for the better. I have accordingly updated my article on DNG, Adobe’s attempt to create a standard format for digital camera raw files. I also took the opportunity to update the Privacy page to reflect my current use and recommendation of the uBlock Origin browser add-on for blocking ads and trackers, and to bring a few other things up to date.

18 April 2021

The first version of Ted Marcus’ Virtual Light Table “went live” 22 years ago today. I have posted an update to mark the anniversary of that dubiously momentous occasion every year except for last year, when the Pandemic and its associated confinement left me with nothing to update.

As I noted last month, I have not been inclined to publish the photography I’ve been able to do in confinement. But thanks to winter morning light that can sometimes transform ordinary things into interesting images, I have three exceptions. The first is a “black rose”— a succulent that is not actually a flower— with a luminous center that seems to be glowing from within. The second is a detail of an agave sidelit by the morning sun and transformed into a black and white abstraction. And finally, some colorful outdoor furniture spotlit by the low-angle sun.

I have updated the Downtown Los Angeles Superlatives Travel Photo Essay to reflect the closure of “OUE Skyspace” and the displacement of the Library Tower as Los Angeles’ tallest building, and also updated the Los Angeles Travel Notes. I’ve added some new links to Pocket Instamatic and 126 Resources with pictures that demonstrate two of the four films currently available in the 110 format.

15 March 2021

In theory, the promised availability of vaccines now offers some hope of release from maximum-security lockdown this year. But in practice, a shot in the arm is worth two in the freezer. The other question is whether those shots can get into enough arms in time to prevent one or more of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Variants from sending us all back to solitary confinement for another year.

Meanwhile, the photography I am able to do while I wait with infinite patience for a shot is not something I consider worth sharing. But change happens despite the Plague, requiring other updates. I’ve significantly updated the Legacy Technology page, particularly the Pocket Instamatic and 126 Resources section. I’ve also updated the Travel Photo Essay on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, with the latest episode of the sordid soap opera involving its 11 (and counting) concessionaires. And a surprising number of links on various pages needed to be updated or removed.

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