Summer Berries

Summer Berries

Summer is upon many of us and as the heat settles in I will take as many simple comforts as I can find to forget the incoming heat. I have always been more of a winter person personally, something about the calm, minimal nature of it. That said, I do appreciate the way summer brings people together with BBQ’s, lush gardens, outdoor concerts, or a good road trip here and there. 

To celebrate the simple joys of summer here is a new desktop for everyone. Inside the mason jar you will find fresh blueberries, blackberries, and cherries. They were the perfect snack for a hot afternoon. Lost in the depths of the camera lens is a stage housing a bluegrass band setting up during a weekly series of concerts I work with locally all summer long featuring all sorts of different types of music. A series that for a large part of my life has been a defining part of these few hot months. That said, heres to fresh fruit, iced tea, and the abrupt joy of a cold shower at the end of a hot day.

Instavid

Instavidigramification

With todays Instagram+video announcement I thought I would take a minute to share what I have been thinking about the new generation of photo sharing services on mobile devices. My feelings on Instagram in general have been heavily mixed for quite some time now, I have written about mobile photography in the past and so I don’t feel the need to get into that aspect of it right now. What I am interested in though is the direction Instagram is going. After their acquisition by Facebook everyone cried out in worry that things would change but any sudden shift in the network would have shaken way more people off of the instalove tree. Continuing along a slowly evolving path makes much more sense in the long run.

As far as this new race to become “the instagram of video” is concerned, I think that its roots were bit messy to begin with. As gifs suddenly became the trendy new thing a few apps tried to come up with instant gif sharing but none of them ever stuck because the charm of gifs people were sharing were the cultural references and viral trendiness of the video snippets, not home made photos turned into moving ones.

Vine came along and tried something different mixing up the idea of a repeating video snippet and the familiarity of a square frame but it has failed to catch on widely because like any new social network, we need a compelling reason to bother joining another service. Browsing through Vine it seems as though the only thing it is good for is amateur comedy. Trying to cram creativity into these snippets is a stretch and I feel will be a quickly passing fad.

The way I see it, Video apps were created only to claim victory over a market that doesn’t really fix any problems or have a willing audience to begin with. It’s like trying to bring back the Twinkie, snack cake bakeries thought that the public wanted it because there was so much talk about how much people would miss them but when they start to come back onto he market, no one really cares. So many have tried to make compelling video apps for mobile devices yet no one seems to have realized that the simplicity of a single photo, (or once frame), is so much more charming, quick, and fun to make than a full video. Remember the moving photos in Harry Potter? Not quite that easy in reality I’m afraid.

Perhaps most interesting to me at least is that Flickr, long thought to be accidental losers in the race to mobile photo sharing dominance for not jumping on the train soon enough, was in fact the first to offer a short video clip functionality among photo sharing. It was intended to be for those random videos most people accidentally shot on their digital point and shoot cameras but thats just the thing, no one really cared about those accidents enough to make Flickr video anything special. Photographers reacted in the exact same way those using instagram heavily are reacting to the change now, with a skeptical, almost angry mindset. Today, Flickr video is all but dead for most users.

Instagram has some obvious advantages in its mobility and the fact that its name is now more or less a verb that may as well be in the dictionary (aka. crazy popularity). But in this shift away from its original charming, simplistic self, the service is shaking the tree again and while many of its purist “iPhone only 4life” users will simply ignore it, I think that a number of people will eventually tire of its new split personality timeline.

This is where VSCO has such an amazing opportunity with its upcoming Grid service. While it is all well and good that they are acting modest in saying they are not trying to compete with Instagram, its fairly obvious that  they are. Of course they have to say that, Instagram is what willed their existence into life to begin with. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. That said, they are perfectly aligned to become highly popular among serious mobile photographers if they play their cards right. In making a simple, elegant service that avoids playing into typical social network traps it could find a lot of love waiting for it when they finally open their doors.

So while I still find making photos with my iPhone more of a hobby and sometimes a distraction I still enjoy following along and having fun with it and am interested in seeing where we go from here. I’m sure you will see a number of videos pop up on my Instagram feed when I feel a video could be fun to add and I fear my already mostly neglected Vine feed will start to look more and more barren as time passes. Let the 1:1 video wars begin.

In Rotation

In Rotation

I have been using music recently as a means to trigger different moods and creative energy. My love for so many different genres combined with the way different albums and songs have bound to different parts of my life leave me able to use music as a tool to fine tune my creative drive. Using the familiar notes and melodies of personal favorites brings back memories of life spent listening to them and can put me in a place of reflection or nostalgia.

When I write, ambient music cures all distractions, warm tones and soundscapes wrap around my mind like a thousand pillows and leave me to focus when I feel there is no hope to get any real writing done.

Dance music stirs up a mixture of emotion for me because it gets me energized yet also manages to sharpen my focus with its driving simplicity and steady pace. I dig a little deeper into electronic music often as well because the creativity and sound design of the genera can go a long way into putting my mind somewhere totally unfamiliar.

There have even been times recently where I have been looking back to my as a teenage years and digging out old Deftones or other like minded heavier rock outfits to add a little angst to my mind which I have found to be oddly therapeutic in pulling my thoughts away from other busy work or distractions.

Music, film, even television at times, are usually classified purely as entertainment but I often see them in a more essential light. There is a reason the old “what albums would you want with you stranded on a desert island” is so hard to answer. Because more often than not, for many of us, these forms of entertainment are so much more than just entertainment, they become part of us.

This is what came to mind when I sat down to write something to accompany this image. My slow growing collection of records is a nod to my love for music and I have plans to eventually start a series of posts featuring my favorite records one post at a time.

The record playing here is by Small Sur and is one of my favorites so far this year, a year that has been pretty overwhelming so far with so much great new music coming out. You can check them out here. They only made 300 of these so if you enjoy what you hear, grab one while they are around!

Type

Really Simple Syndication

The time is getting closer and closer to Google shutting down Reader for good and it’s about time I wrote to ask this simple question, where is everyone going to go from here? I just moved my RSS feeds on over to Feedly, at least for now, but I know many of you have other services you prefer to follow the web using. Would you like to see a fiftyfootshadows Flipboard magazine? A dedicated news feed on Twitter for new posts? A Facebook fan page type thing? Google +? Tumblr feed?

I would love to hear any thoughts or opinions on the services you use personally to gauge how best to move forward and make sure you guys still have a place to easily keep up with new posts as we move into a Google Reader-less future. As I continue to work on my long overdue update and refocusing of 50ft I want to be sure I don’t leave anyone out! While I don’t have time to support every service out there I am certainly keen to hear what you guys think. Feel free to use the comments to share any thoughts on the matter, thanks!

Quick addition: I am not out to replace RSS, not at all. I just wanted to ask everyone about their personal preference to be sure you are able to follow along here in your preferred format and to make note of anyone needing anything more than the RSS feed already available here.

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If you help me out with these I will be able to keep doing what I love to do. Thanks again, really, for your support and understanding. -J

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Thank you for your understanding and support!

-John Carey (curator, owner)

fiftyfootshadows.net

fiftyfootshadows@gmail.com