Wildlife

Wildlife

It can be easy to forget how much we rely on modern comforts in our day to day life. When I toss a few essentials into a backpack and head off into the woods I give up some of those niceties and in turn have a great opportunity to re-tune my assumption that we are dominant among nature because of our ability to overcome it by being smarter than it is. Comfort can be overrated at times, the concept distorts our expectations based on what we think we need to be happy. The simplicity of camping and being away from modern living refreshes my state of mind. I wish I had time to get out more often! The moment I saw this sign swallowed whole by a tree I was reminded that nature has a way of quickly forgetting our interfering hands as it flows through time without us and I figured some of you may enjoy this subtle reminder as well. Enjoy!

Flow v1

Flow

During a recent camping trip, I re-connected with my old desire to shoot nature for the first time in a long while. Some days I feel like I have photographed it enough for a lifetime but being out in the woods away from the city it’s hard not to get inspired. On days like these my eagerness to shoot slowly builds. Every time I discover something beautiful to capture I get more excited and coming across challenging spots like this one leaves my head spinning with ideas.

With these photos I knew I wanted the water to have some personality by using a slower shutter speed but did not have a tripod on me so I made due with a balanced shooting position and steady hands. Despite the focused details in the moss and stone being shaky I still like the way they turned out.

One of my favorite parts of shooting is quickly weighing compromises when approaching a scene based on the natural light, gear on hand, and time constraints. Much of photography is based on compromise and an understanding of the tools being used and the puzzle is always so much fun to solve. So, as always, I hope you guys enjoy these as much as I enjoyed taking them. More soon!

Update: I found a little video clip recorded while I shot this spot, thought it was fun so I tossed in some music and posted it below. The audio is a bit louder than I meant to have it, just so you know. Funny, I remember shooting this and nearly slipped down the rock as I followed the water down. There was a split second that I considered letting it happen just to see what the video would look like but quickly reconsidered and balanced myself back out. 

Flow v2

Flow v3

Doom

Doom

There is a great local arcade here in town with a rotating cast of pinball tables among other old arcade machines. While I have never been all that good at the game I have always loved the mechanical wonder of a good pinball machine. I shot these casually one night and thought their abstract, bokeh filled nature would make a nice wallpaper for any fans of the game. Enjoy.

Doom v2

In The Shot
Guest Desktop

In The Shot

Back with another great guest desktop for everyone! This week we have an image from Dan Hawk, a photographer from the great city of Portlandia. He reached out to me showing interest in sharing a photograph in the guest series and after pouring through the beautiful photographs on his site I found this gem which he was kind enough to share with everyone as a wallpaper.

At first glance a straightforward long exposure of a beach at sunset caused me pause when I noticed the blurry outline of one of his children in bottom of the frame. The ghost like figure gives it a personality and vitality that I really love. As you know, I enjoy a story or a few thoughts about an images creation and Dan had this to say about the photograph:

“My wife and I took all three of our kids to Maui this year and this image is from their first Hawaiian sunset after a long day playing in the ocean.  I tried to make it down to the water for sunset every evening as it seems so wrong to miss them.  I made a couple of long exposure pictures that evening which turned out pretty good, but then my son decided to jump in the frame on this one and it became the keeper.  I tried to get him to hold still, but he’s 9, so it was a lost cause. When making photos, I hope my images represent the way it felt to be there and this one succeeds for me.”

A story that rings true of some of the worlds best photographs, ones of serendipity and adjusting expectations to fit the circumstances to discover something even better.

Dan also had this to say of his technical approach; “I made this image with a single frame taken with a Sony NEX 7, the 18-55 Zoom lens (which is pretty good stopped down at 18mm) and a Neutral Density Filter so I could use a longer shutter speed.  This is a ten second exposure at f/20, using a tripod. I’m usually more of a prime 35mm equivalent shooter, but I find myself reaching for the wider angle of the zoom for these big ocean sunsets. I generally shoot in RAW which gives me access to the broad dynamic range of light that the sensor is recording. All of my editing is done in Lightroom.”

You can find more of his work and follow along with future photos and stories here.

object_15_desktops

Object No. 15

Changing things up with this object shot using a different approach this time around. I took the lens of of my X-Pro1 and messed around with a bit of “free-lensing,” a technique I had no idea had a name, more or less a following, until recently. I remember the first time doing this years ago with my 5D, I wanted to see if I could force an old pentax lens to work with the camera without having any kind of conversion mount. My only option was to manually hold the lens out in front of the camera. At the time it felt like nothing more than a novelty, something new to mess around with to get abstract images so I was surprised to see many people use it seriously.

At any rate, the technique is certainly fun to play around with if you are ever looking for something new to try. It works especially well with mirrorless cameras because you don’t have a mirror to contend with! Just be sure to do it in a clean environment where you don’t run the risk of filling up your sensor with dirt or dust.

While traveling in Inda way back when, I made a point not to buy too many mementos, I had only taken one small backpack with me after all and couldn’t spare a lot of room. There were a few things that I did end up buying though as a way to remember my time there, one of which was this Ganesh statue which I believe I bought while in Pushkar from a place that sold their statues all by weight. I chose one somewhere in the middle and it has been hanging around my apartment ever since.

I decided to include three variations on the shot, one of which has a nice healthy flare from all the light pouring into the sensor as I snapped it.

object_15_v2_desktops

object_15_v3_desktops

Down The Line

Down The Line

Finding new places to shoot is not always as easy as discovering a new abandoned landscape and relying on its unexplored decay as the focus of a photograph. Sometimes it takes the right set of circumstances to make something of it, such as the flowers that serendipitously appeared here, covering this piece of land one grey summer afternoon.

Which reminds me of something I was thinking about recently regarding patience as a virtue in the art of photography. While some days subject matter, interesting compositions, and beautiful light comes easy and obviously, there are times when nothing shows its face and rather than get down about not finding anything that stands out its important to realize that sometimes we have to be patient in the search. This is one thing that has really sunk in after pushing myself to shoot and share at least one photo every day for well over a year.

I often feel down when I go a few days without shooting a photograph but lately I have been quick to remember that I can’t always force a good photograph out of a day, especially busy ones with repudiative landscapes. As long as I don’t turn off my internal photo radar, I have started to let myself relax more when approaching photography from day to day. Its lead me to focus on shots that I want to take rather than ones I feel I have to take, if that makes any sense. Sure, life is short, but whats the rush?

Melon

Melon

Summer is a lot of things. Time at the beach, floating down a river, ice tea or lemonade on a porch; any number of quintessential, sometimes cliché activities come to mind when the word summer pops into mind. One of my favorite things about summer is the fresh fruit and vegetables filling the local farmers market to the brim. Nothing like a locally truly vine ripe anything. So in the waning end of summer I thought I would toss in a desktop for any other lovers of a good summer melon. Enjoy!

Angel Oak v1

Angel Oak

Back to Charleston for a few black and white shots of a beautiful tree called the Angel Oak, thought to be at least 400 years old (if not much more so). I had been trying to get down there to see this tree for years now and it was nice to finally make it there and soak it all in. These old southern oak trees are achingly beautiful and one of my favorite parts of traveling to the southeast. Their long, hearty branches seem to defy gravity as they spread outward and in some cases such as this tree, end up growing so far outward they end up touching the ground. The Angel Oak is free to visit and has a modest park surrounding it with a gift shop full of a handful of local offerings and photos for sale.  There are a couple of websites dedicated to the tree but I’m not exactly sure which is the official site, this one here has visiting hours listed at least. Well worth the drive if you are int he area.

I held off sharing these because I was not completely satisfied with the way they turned out. I am starting to feel a bit claustrophobic using a 50mm lens, well, on the X-Pro1 it’s the equivalent of one at least. After developing my personal style using 35mm lenses on full frame bodies I don’t mind shooting with a 50 but it often cramps my style. These images also show the shortcomings of my current camera setup and trying to shoot with my classic, wide open, shallow DOF reliant compositions. I am hoping to figure out a way to pick up Fuji’s newer 23mm f/1.4 lens eventually so I can get back to my familiar focal range and give myself the breathing room I am used to having when approaching a subject.

Angel Oak v2

Angel Oak v3

Angel Oak v4

Mountain Shrub, by Conor McClure
Guest Desktop

Mountain Shrub

Today I am happy to introduce the return of the guest desktop series here on 50ft. Everyones favorite on again, off again set of posts here on the site where I reach out to other photographers around the world and convince them to share their amazing work with you guys through the art of digital wallpaper. I have the intention to start releasing these every couple of weeks here on the site and will start to be on the lookout for suitable new images to share.

I love this series because it gives me a chance to expand what I am able to offer here on the site photographically by offering others viewpoints on the world and expose great photographers to fresh eyes in the process. This time around I am happy to share an image by Conor McClure, a young James Dean looking fellow who has an admirable dedication to his growing personal site conormcclure.net, a site I follow along with to keep up with the ambitions of this up and coming photographer. I was lucky enough to meet up with Conor for a while while in Boone, NC a few months back and had a nice time chatting for a while and hope to cross paths again sometime in the future.

I saw this shot pass through my RSS reader a couple of days ago and the thought suddenly occurred to me that I really should jump back into my guest post series, so here we are. In Conor’s words to me through email correspondence he had this to say about the photo seen above:

“The photo was made back in October 2013, so the story behind its creation escapes me. My girlfriend and I were hiking to the top of Beacon Heights, an overlook off of the Blue Ridge Parkway just outside of Boone, North Carolina — it’s considered an easy beginner’s hike for those looking for one of those typical scenic Blue Ridge views.

At this point, I was still in the honeymoon phase with my Fuji X100S, so I took it with me everywhere and took pictures of everything. The photo is a typical wide-open low-profile kind of shot, of what appears to be some unattractive dying plant. The post-processing is typical of most of my photos: the Fuji “Velvia” camera profile, some basic exposure edits, jacked up clarity and sharpness, and liberal amounts of hazing and fading in the curves.

It might be interesting to go back to this spot sometime soon and see if the flowers are in bloom this time.”

For desktop cropped versions see the link below and be sure to check out his other work and follow along over at conormcclure.net!

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