Object No. 13

Object No. 13

Back just before digital music had been fully accepted by the masses a number of musicians and labels were looking for creative ways to assemble limited edition, physical releases to help encourage sales and push the boundaries in terms of creatively selling music. Easily my favorite entry into this pool was Ghostly Internationals release of a limited edition sculpture to accompany the digital release.

It’s called the Black City Totem and was released in tandem with Matthew Dears album, Black City. The sculpture was created as a physical representation of the music itself and the feeling it conveys. I love the stark simplicity of it and love having it around the house. Created as an edition of 100 I am pretty certain it is no longer available at this point there are still some available through Ghostly here, I do wish the idea had caught on. Now that vinyl has taken over as the defacto limited edition of most album releases there is not as much pressure to create objects such as this which I think is a shame.

Maybe I am an odd one out but I love original art like this sold in reasonably limited editions. Not in an effort to make it more valuable in the future, but because of the added personal value it adds to those that do own these unique, limited objects. In that light, I am a proud owner of this beautifully modest little sculpture that represents a great album.

Object No. 13 v2

Let It In

Let It In

Because I have had such a busy week this post is all I can find time for. I asked everyone on Twitter whether they wanted something moody or something sunny and every single vote went to sunny so I set out to find something sunny to shoot today. At the last moment of sun out behind the building I work at I discovered this tiny instance of spring poking its head through into a new year.

I realize the post work is a little heavy, this is clearly because I heavily blew out the sky to capture the exposure needed in the plant, it was a compromise. Many professional photographers will not use images with blown out sections of an image, mostly due to the fact that the edges of the photo have no edge if its pure white. Imagine a photo of a model with a white, blown out sky on a white magazine page. It gives off an amateurish vibe that you can see right through if you are savvy to the mistake and is one of those little details that go a long way to making a design look clean and professional. Same goes for making a darkroom print. If the sky in a negative is blown out and you make a print with a white border the edge of the frame is lost and it gets sloppy looking unless you burn the edges or dodge your subject to compensate. The ideal solution, of course, is creatively use lighting or reflectors to balance your exposure.

I cheated here in knocking down the white to a shade of grey and tinting the highlights to match the closest color before the blown highlights. These days I do all I can to avoid this mistake either by framing the shot differently, exposing darker than I want to and hoping I can pull information from the shadows without too much loss in detail, or abandoning the shot altogether. While some knock Ansel’s Zone System I feel having at least an awareness of different intensities of light and how best to utilize available light to balance an image is vital to maturing as a photographer.

If I saw someone else’s photo using this editing technique I would probably think less of the photograph overall, a double standard, sure, but its true. I often avoid being so heavy handed with post work but when circumstances leave me with no choice I just go with the flow, do what I need to do to make a passable image to share, as do many of us. On days like today when I could only spare a couple of minutes to sneak out and take a photo, I let my guard down and make conscious compromises for the sake of capturing something rather than nothing.

Honesty in post work aside, I hope its not as distracting to you guys as it is to me and you enjoy the sunny new desktop!


Object No. 12

Object No. 12

Children’s toys were once so simple were they not? This is another object floating around in my collection that has no story, it just is. No battery, no screws, just a few holes drilled into sculpted wood. I enjoy having this around as a reminder of how simple things have the potential of being when reduced to their bare essentials.

Because Spring

Because Spring

While the weather can’t seem to make up its mind anymore I have finally started to see spring try to break its way through the cold, rain, ice, and snow that has lingered for the last couple of months. A little warm sun and time outside is something I have been looking forward to for a long while now. I’m sure this won’t be the last seasonal desktop on these pages, my camera is just as desperate as I am to get some sun.

Blue Ridge Fog 5

Blue Ridge Fog

Rainy days don’t always have to ruin plans. This past weekend my brother and I wanted to head out to the mountains and shoot around so rather than let the rain get the best of us we pushed right into the thick of it and drove blindly on into the fog. A steady rain left us a bit damp by the days end but quiet landscapes and some fresh air made it all worth while.

At this point I have seen and taken enough fog photos for a lifetime, even with the most beautiful subject matter hiding in the middle I find using fog to capture a mood gets old after a while. Hard to deny its appeal though. It’s an instant fantasy land and the never ending curiosity and uncertainty of not knowing what is beyond your line of sight can be addicting.

We made a few random stops as we drove down a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway and managed to get a few nice photos in along the way despite them eventually closing off part of the parkway due to what I could only assume was fog to thick to safely navigate through, visibility at times was so low that car headlights of oncoming traffic crept almost out of nowhere at times and made for an unpredictable drive along the slow, winding roads of the parkway.

I went ahead and made six different images from the day into wallpapers to make a nice rounded pack of desktops for you guys. While some aren’t particularly perfect I think they came out nicely considering the nasty weather we had to work with. Enjoy!

Blue Ridge Fog 1

Blue Ridge Fog 2

Blue Ridge Fog 3

Blue Ridge Fog 4

Blue Ridge Fog 6

Object No. 11

Object No. 11

I can’t remember where I had first seen a Daruma doll but I have long since enjoyed the idea behind them. The most widely known use of the doll involves painting in one eye while making a commitment to accomplish a great task or goal. Close to making a wish but more grounded in realistic goals. The second eye is painted in when the goal has been achieved. There is a long history behind the legend of these paper-mache dolls and it’s an interesting read over on Wikipedia if your curious to learn more.

While I have never spent any real time exploring Japan, I have daydreamed and read enough to feel as though I have. The only time I have spent there was in an airport while passing through on a connecting flight in Tokyo and this is exactly when I came across this in a gift shop full of trinkets from the country. I still have hopes to eventually make my way to Japan to fulfill a long standing goal to explore the land of the rising sun. Until then, daydreams will have to do.



Most towns and cities around the world that I have spent a fair amount of time in have a few local spots that I find myself going back to for the sake of the reliable comfort they bring. A neighboring city in NC that I work in from time to time, Winston Salem, has a great local coffee shop called Krankies Coffee.

It is part coffee shop, part bar, part venue and even has a dedicated gallery inside for art unlike most coffee shops and their art above tables of laptop users. In the main room they also roast their own coffee so the place fills with the aroma of roasting beans on many visits. It’s a truly great spot I always stop through when I am in town. They have a satellite shop setup on the other side of town inside of an old retrofitted airstream camper which comes in handy at times.

The wheel in this photo is part of a home made bike rack outside of Krankies that is frequently full of bikes. Thought it would make a nice image for the bike lovers out there. The flecks of red paint on the spokes are what attracted me to take this shot, a detail that made all the difference in my mind. Enjoy.

Object No. 10

Object No. 10

I bought this music box in a shop in Europe years ago as I was thoroughly lost in daydreams and the mind numbing realization that there were so many places in this world to get lost in. Surrounded by unfamiliar walls and unknown languages it felt as though I would never run out of ways to get lost both physically and emotionally. The world felt infinite, comforting and intimate.

This was just before the hysteria of smart phones took over our lives. If I remember correctly, I was carrying the recently released first generation of iPhone with me which went mostly untouched during the trip. While it was a cool device, my world didn’t revolve around it, I didn’t feel the need to be connected at all times and share constantly to keep everyone in the loop. I simply wandered the streets of Paris, Vernazza, London, anywhere the train let me off, camera in hand, no expectations or specific destination, only a sense that the world could go on forever if I kept walking forward.

No matter how much time passes there are ghosts from these places where I felt lost that cling themselves onto melodies, colors, light, objects, anything. They wait patiently for their chance to appear and haunt my thoughts for a time. Some of them grow weak and leave me be after a while but others hang on tight, grip strong and steady as I go about my day.

The melody these metal prongs play is one which echoes in a white room with a door to any number of different outcomes. It was during this trip that I learned to never underestimate the creative power of being lost and the lasting impact it could have if I continued to take chances and never settle on anything outside of what I was honestly passionate for.

Living a life with risks and always staying curious enough to wonder what is around the next bend in the path ahead has lead me on amazing adventures and taught me valuable lessons about myself and the world we live in. It’s easy to fear that first step into the void but the regret of not taking it is something you can’t take back.

Object No. 9

Object No. 9

There is no reason this was shot on a bed. I was searching for a nicely lit space and it seemed like a perfect spot even though the scene and the object have nothing at all to do with each other. But maybe this adds something to the shot in a way, a subject and its location don’t always need to justify each others existence. Though sometimes a subject that feels forced into a location, like a model too obviously staged somewhere can cause an emotional separation that can be distracting.

Yet here we have an old wooden typeset letter stained in old ink from long forgotten publications and somehow it feels right at home in my bed. The displacement is almost irrelevant because of the calm, glowing afternoon sun and the mood it captures in our imagination as we spy on this letter over the edge of a blanket.

It may seem like I am reaching a bit far out here but this kind of exploration of a photograph is how we discover what we like about photography. Having an understanding of why we enjoy the photos we enjoy can lead us to a better understanding of our own photographs and those of others.

Looking back on my history with a camera, it took years of slow progression and growth to feel as though I was in control of my own style. At first I emulated others I admired then slowly started taking these inspirations and applying them to my own ideas and exploring new approaches and formats once I had a better understanding of what it was that I liked about my favorite images by others. It’s one of the most important steps of a photographers development but also one of the hardest to overcome.

Discovering ones style behind a camera is sometimes easier than we would think but often easy to overlook if your not paying attention, so keep an eye out and don’t be afraid to over analyze your favorites.

To whom it may concern,



• Enjoy the images! It’s a labor of love, thanks for your support!
• Share fiftyfootshadows.net with friends.
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• Post these elsewhere online.
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• Pass them around in mass.
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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)