I use AllWebMenus for the menu and Express Thumbnail Creator for the thumbs. Annotation is done with 2020. These tools preclude writing any HTML, and are fast and simple. You can locate all of these on the web with Google.com.
Site management is done with CuteFTP Pro. My ISP is readyhosting.com - about $100/year for 250 megs and now much faster than it used to be. My site only uses 20% of that capacity!
Most pix are ~600x400 - that's all you need on the web and they load fast for those with dial-up connections. IrfanView (from cnet.com) is used to size and crop the pix. The car maintenance snaps are taken on my wife's Olympus D340 - only 1.3mp, but more than adequate for this purpose.
The 'real' pix ('Color' and 'Monochrome' tabs on my home page) are from 35mm originals, scanned with a Nikon Coolscan II - a superior combination only now being challenged by the latest ($8k+!) 11mp digital cameras.
I'm in the South Bay area.
Hope that helps.