I had not really expected this one to be all that popular on Yesterday Was Today (YWT) but a number of people jumped on and stated their praise. I couple of days prior to shooting this the Ghostly International keychain arrived in the mail which was a bit bigger than I had imagined. Forged from solid pewter it’s just another great use of their trademark ghost logo. I have been following the artists of Ghostly for years and years now and it’s always been one of my favorite US labels for forward thinking music. If you’re curious to hear some of what they have to offer they created a brilliant mobile app called Ghostly Discovery that let’s you stream music from the label like a custom radio station. The app tailors the station to what kind of mood you are in based on a few factors such as digital vs. organic, faster vs. slower, and the color of your mood. It’s a unique way to find new music and I can easily suggest you check it out.
Here we have it, the first desktop taken from my new Yesterday Was Only project. I will post at least once a week but to catch up I will try to get out a few extra this week to catch up. This shot seemed to be a favorite early on in the project and it seemed to be as good of a place as any to get started.The 10″ on the turntable here is a great release by Ssaliva called Sync Thrills. The Record sleeve has some really beautiful letterpress work as well, a recent favorite for sure.
The funny thing about reviews is that you never know when you can trust them. In the end it almost always comes down to one single personal opinion. No matter how much of a technical expert one may be, there is always room for a bad call. We all have odd days, right? We all have opinions that change, grow, mature. While a review is a good starting point for discussion, what it really boils down to is YOUR opinion. Your expectations should not be based off of one happy or upset reviewer, no matter how much you may or may not respect them. I am not trying to instill paranoia or distrust in anyone, I just think its worth considering whenever you start to research a new product.
That out of the way, I know you guys have always seemed to enjoy when I review things so I am getting back in the saddle with a new pair of headphones. They are not a new pair to the market, but they are new to my ears and I figured some of you may appreciate the opinion. You know or can read my opinions on the last two pairs reviewed, AiAiAi Tracks and TMA-1’s.
I continue to use a pair of TMA-1’s for work, but now use the “studio version” which I honestly don’t care for as much as the originals. The redesigned ear pads are much prettier than they sound and the updated drivers don’t sound as well rounded to my ears. I switched simply because my previous pair was stepped on in an audio booth by a large guy and cracked the headband, so I bought the updated model simply to try something new.
My poor Tracks, however, recently died on me, again due to my rough lifestyle at work. I was wearing them while wiring a stage at a theater and the cable was hanging too low as I kneeled over. It got stuck under my knee as I stood up and pulled the cable out of the “Y” junction with no hope for repair. Usually one of the headphones would just pop out of the headband for me but it was too sudden and forceful of a tug that it ripped it right out.
I am not an average user when it comes to headphones, I tend to have a few pairs around for different uses. The TMA-1’s are for work because they are sturdy and I don’t have to worry about blowing the drivers when pushing them heavily in loud environments. My iPhone earbuds are nice enough for riding a bike or casual, quick needs. I also have a modest pair of Ultimate Ears that are more of the “shove in your ear” variety which I like because they offer a fuller, more controlled sound than the Apple buds so I toss them in my bag if I am packing light for a trip or day out.
Which brings me back to my dead Tracks. I really loved the pair and still fully stand behind my previous review of them, but, I could not help but take the chance to move on to something new, fresh for my ears and something to review (brag about) here. Also, before I forget, the reason for owning a pair like the tracks is to use as a casual pair for day to day listening and average travel. Something better balanced and fun than my work pair but more fulfilling than my Apple or Ultamate Ears pairs.
After a little bit of reading and digging around I decided on a pair of the Incase Sonic headphones. I remember seeing them enter this market a while back and while it seemed odd at first seeing a bag company get into the headphone market I realized it actually make a lot of sense. They have top notch industrial designers on staff so of course all of the models they sell are gorgeous. Do they have a great sound to back that up? We’ll get back to that shortly.
Among the four options they offer style wise, I have only tried two pairs, their Sonic and Reflex models, back during my last trip to Seoul. The cushions on both are like pillows and sit comfortably over your ears because of the suede like fabric used to line them. The big difference between them is the way they sit on your ear, the Reflex sits on your ear while the Sonic lies around your ear. I went back and forth trying to decide on which I would purchase and decided to give the Sonics a run for their money.
After a few days spent with them I know already that I made the right call. I was a little worried about the overall size but because of the nicely padded carrying bag included with them its a breeze to carry around with me in my backpack. For a pair of over the ear headphones like these they have a surprising amount of comfort without the bulk of most over the ear headphones. It is easily one of the most natural feeling pair of over ears I have worn, no small statement I know, but in my personal experience it’s true.
The physical construction of the Sonics (and the Reflex for that matter) is pretty much outstanding so far as I have noticed and felt so far. The fit and finish is wonderfully tidy and detailed, not unlike many of their products. I would go as far as to say it is very Apple like. Nothing goes to waste. They have a slight rubberized feel to them and so far, unlike other headphones with this finish I have seen or used, the coating has not been peeling off, even in a couple of circumstances where they drug against a rough surface while I was on a job site. They have a respectable, solid feel to them and the ear pads have a perfect amount of give to them to perfectly shape to your head.
Something worth noting is the cable included. The Sonic has a detachable audio cable with a non-obtrusive Apple compatible remote built in. The removable cable is nice for transport and for the accidental tug on the headphones which would result in the cable unplugging rather than your headphones being pulled apart. The travel bag shipped with the pair has a little pocket inside for the cable as well as an included adaptor to quarter-inch connections. The length of the cable I could see some people finding too short but I love it. The less cable, the less of a chance it will get caught up on things. It is just long enough to reach into a pocket or carry a device in your hand but not so long that there is a lot of extra length getting caught on things. This may be an issue with anyone using them with an iMac for instance where the cable would have to reach across a desk and behind the computer.
As an added bonus, and I assume they are still shipping this way, there is an additional cable included with the headphones. The two cables offer two different color options, to either match the highlight color seen on the inside of the cushions or the color of the shell.
Well, that brings us to the best part, the sound. Nine times out of ten with this kind of style centric headphones you get a sub par sound out of them. (Heres looking at you Beats) Having this in mind I was pleasantly surprised with the frequency balance in the Sonics. They did not go after the pop music audience with the way these were tuned, they seem to have gone after more of a broad, discerning audience. The most obvious example of why that is would be in the bass response. It is not at all overwhelming and leaves plenty of headroom for the rest of the music to be heard while still providing enough of a punch to feel a nice warm bottom end while listening at modest levels.
There is a bit of a dip in the upper mids but still has enough shine in the highs to give you a nice clarity that won’t leave your ears feeling exhausted. Being over ear headphones, there is a fair amount of space to the overall sound also referred to by many as the ‘sound stage’ but not a very open one which is to be expected seeing as it has a closed back design. I prefer ambient sound dampening from closed back headphones in many cases which I did miss from time to time on the Tracks in circumstances such as a loud table neighbor at a a coffee shop.
Of course as with any pair of headphones your ears and personal taste goes a long way into what works for you personally and it may take a moment to get adjusted to the tuning. Also worth noting is that they are not the loudest pair of headphones you will find out there, at least not without a dedicated headphone amp. Straight off an iPod or iPhone you may find yourself with the volume a click or two higher than usual. I don’t see this as a bad thing at all because they are plenty loud really, just something worth noting.
All in all I could easily recommend these. As of the time of this writing they are being sold with a fairly deep discount over on their own site which is nice to see. See also this nice video from Incase about the process of designing them. I don’t own their Reflex models I can also safely recommend those from my short time spent with them, they also have a nice solid sound and construction but with a smaller overall size. If you have any questions about the Sonics I would be happy to answer in the comments below, otherwise, happy listening.
Over the past week of settling into my daily shooting and posting routine over on Yesterday Was Only I couldn’t help but think about all the other fantastic photographers out there that follow along with me here on fiftyfootshadows. As often as I am able I follow links left behind by commenters and often find a lot of great work. An idea popped into my head this weekend that I figured would be easy enough to get going so I wanted to toss up a quick post to get things started rather than putting it off.
I would like to collect links from anyone reading who has their own photography collection online. This could be a blog, a Flickr or 500px feed, or anything of this sort. My only rule is that it be a site full of original photographic content created by you, not sourced from elsewhere online. Simple enough right?
My plan is to collect and follow all of these feeds on a regular basis. Any with RSS I will be adding to my RSS reader for convenience sake.
Why am I doing this? Because I sometimes feel I don’t network enough online. 50ft is a bit of an island where I have always just sort of made up things as I went along. I don’t play much of the trendy link blogging games or actively run amok on any social networks. This is my way of reaching out to everyone following along, silently or otherwise. I plan on regularly keeping up with everyones output and potentially looking for guest wallpaper images among these pages. Something I would really love to start doing more regularly.
I am considering making this group of photographers into a bit of an unofficial network and including a page here on the site where everyone can have a place to find other photographers in the underground community but I have not really fully considered this just yet.
So hop on down to the comments, whether I know you already or not, and leave a link for me to add to my feeds. Don’t be shy! I greatly appreciate you sharing and look forward to seeing everyones great work.
I’d love to meet someone who has never heard of Instagram. Wouldn’t that be some kind of miracle? An anomaly rare enough to realize you’re living your life the wrong way, that miracles do happen, that the world can still be unpredictable? At least that’s how dramatic of a notion it has become in my mind. Instagram has turned photography on its head. That’s not to say cheap DSLRs didn’t have their impact as well, especially considering the market exploded with young new talent thanks to them.
Interestingly though, original intentions of Instagram have long since vanished. Most people who take it seriously don’t even use the built in filter set. They use any number of other random editing apps to make their mobile phone images look interesting or emotional (a practice which was previously viewed as breaking the unspoken rules of proper Instagraming). From what I can tell at this point, however, the service is no more than a highly populated gallery these days. Well, this or a dumping ground for any random screen grab or funny thing users find online, but isn’t that what Facebook is for? I see nothing wrong with this behavior, it’s to be expected as it has grown far beyond what anyone had expected.
Part of the foundation of Instagrams popularity was in the “best camera is the one you have with you” movement. A nice enough idea in theory that many have taken to heart and of course the statement is true, but the idea goes deeper than that. The best camera doesn’t HAVE to be your cell phone because it happens to be with you. It could very well just as easily be an SLR, it simply depends on your level of commitment to what it is you want to shoot and the level of control you want to have while shooting.
I see a trend where people are starting to call themselves “mobile photographers” and they have two galleries set up, one on Instagram and another on a separate site where they show the “real” versions of the photos they took on Instagram… This happens the other way around too. Sometimes I find a nice portfolio of work on a personal blog only to be directed to Instagram to see the “mobile version” of the image. Is it just me or is this incredibly redundant? I can’t imagine going through the trouble of scouting out a great location and taking honest time and energy to find beautiful things to photograph only to pull out an iPhone to shoot it simply because that is where the trendy social network of the moment is? What kind of professional path could this lead you down? The only honest argument here that I can figure out is that by posting to Instagram you are doing so to be part of said community. Then again, as I mentioned in my previous article about the word professional, this is all irrelevant in the face of the simple joy of shooting so take my point of view for what it is, an opinion.
For me, personally, Instagram is a distraction. I have my fun with it but have never come close to thinking I would ever take it seriously. I have no interest in how many people may or may not follow me there, I do not use tags in any attempt to find more followers. I have, however, come across moments in the past when facing a nice photo opportunity where I would spend time thinking about weather or not I wanted to bother taking out my 5D or just use my phone. I realized it was making me a lazy photographer and it was this realization that lead me to think that I was clearly using this silly network as an excuse. I would convince myself in those moments that the photo was just a random snapshot, that it didn’t really deserve a real camera, that it was fine that I was just digging my phone out of my pocket rather than sacrificing the extra few seconds that it would take to grab my 5D, Lomo, or Contax T3.
So here we are today with a new venture. Many of you have heard of people shooting one photo every day and calling it their 365 project, something I believe was born, or at least popularized, on Flickr. Funny thing now is that it doesn’t seem like all that much of a challenge anymore, not with the way things are today. Many have no problem randomly snapping off a photo or ten every day on and tossing them up on instagram for a quick fix. Who doesn’t love to see that little “so and so liked your photo”!
All that said, I am happy to introduce a new project which I have ambiguously titled, Yesterday Was Only. Simply put, it’s my new instagram. Of course there will still be times when I toss up snapshots over there because its fun to mess around with apps on my phone and it is a fun way to share bits and pieces of life with those of you who follow along. My goal in starting this new project is to stop the internal argument that it seems easier to shoot with my iPhone at times than it is to pull out my 5D and simply always reach for my 5D when something catches my eye.
“But John, it’s so time consuming, not to mention you have to pull photos off before sharing them and it’s so annoying to drag around a big camera everywhere.”
The time it takes is negligible. Having a few shots from the day that I pull off in the evening and toss up onto my new site hardly seems like a stretch, and this is coming from someone who leads a very busy life with little mental room left for anything new. As for the camera dragging. It’s really not as burdensome as you think. It only gets in the way if you let it, or if you baby your camera. My old 5D and I have been through years of traveling and environments and it has held up just fine. Having a nice fat camera strap certainly doesn’t hurt.
All in all, I realize I am being bold here in the assumption that I will be able to keep this up day after day. YoungDoo lovingly joked that I wouldn’t even make it a month. The fact is, though, that once I started shooting like this, once I made the conscious effort, I started noticing things around me again that I thought I had forgotten about or started to ignore. The way the light hits a wall at a certain time of day. The life hiding in the mundane, often overlooked nooks of my day to day life. Once I started shooting these in the past week or so I was reminded how many beautiful moments I come across and all I am doing is letting myself see them again, I am refusing to let them pass without honoring them with my ability to capture them and represent them to the extend they deserve to be represented because without me these details are born only to die seconds later and I figure they deserve better than that right?
Of course, some days it will be hard, my life deals me with some grungy, busy sorts of days and that is where the real challenge will come. In finding at least one beautiful thing even in days when nothing seems like it could be beautiful. I feel like I have started to let that part of me slip a bit over the past year or so and it feels good to re connect with it it again. So heres to new challenges, may it be fruitful and entertaining. Head on over, follow along, and we will see where we end up. yesterdaywasonly.net
P.S. – I can imagine the flood of “wait, these aren’t desktops!?” emails and messages. No, they are not but that doesn’t mean they won’t be. I plan on taking an image from each week to post here on fiftyfootshadows.net as a wallpaper for you guys to enjoy.
For as long as I can remember I have had a thing for plant life in the South (US). Everything from the air plants hanging from trees to the giant limbed oak trees to these wonderful swamp centric cypress trees. My favorite thing about the cypress are the root system which produce what are known as knees which strangely enough have an unknown function as far as the tree and its sustainability is concerned. There is simply something odd about them that I have always been drawn too. I remember photographing them way back when I was still only using film, with my dads canon eos 650 i think it was? I wonder if I could find those photos somewhere, hmm. Needless to say they make for a great subject, as if it’s a little city built among the trees. Technically speaking, this is my usual affair, a low angle into the sun with my trusty 5D and same awkward crouching pose that I always bend myself into to shoot these sorts of images. Maybe it’s time I look into one if those handy right angle viewfinder attachments again…