Waiting Outside

I’m sure I mentioned it already but bikes and Kyoto are a match made in heaven. The city is largely flat and you can get anywhere in the city with little to no effort by bike. I was apprehensive about this fact for some reason while we were there so we only took out bikes made available for us once which I look back on and regret. Maybe it was just that I love taking subways and trains places and the trains in Kyoto are charming and affordable so it was hard to resist.

Bikes littered the city though, at least the more traditional parts of it. It was hard to go anywhere without one zipping by and if your ever there I highly suggest you consider it as a key mode of transportation. What better way to see a city than to take it slow? Enjoy the photo? Wallpaper links below!

Kurama-dera

We did our best to balance our time in Kyoto, leaving plenty of space for simply traveling between places or taking the long way somewhere. This did send us to the wrong spot once or twice including our attempt to make our way out to this beautiful temple in mountains just outside of the city. It’s a beautiful place to visit and because it was the off season and we arrived at the end of the day there was hardly anyone there at all. Even with only a short time available to us to explore the cliff dwelling temple we were able to soak in some of the misty charm and glow of the complex and its many vistas, temples, and steep pathways. It was a beautifully calm place, as was the tiny town at its entrance. This image is but a tiny, perhaps common view but it quickly brings back fond memories. Links for a wallpaper below!

For Tomorrow

Looking through photos I took in Japan four years ago I find it impossible to believe that it has been that long since traveling there. I had to recount the years a few times on my fingers just to triple check but its true. This could be because my life has sped by exponentially faster and faster as big shifts swing with a wider circumference as I get older. The weight of that spin and its billowing momentum makes me wonder if there is any way to stop a year from going by without it feeling like an abrupt cut in a film with a lazy caption reading “one year later”.

Or, lets look at this in a more optimistic light. Maybe the reason looking through these photos I feel as though it were just yesterday because the trip left that much of an impact on me. After a lifetime of curiosity I had finally made it to Japan, maybe just for a short time, sure, but I do remember it fondly. The movement of Kyoto, the taste of each thing we ate, the color of the walls and the feeling of dodging raindrops with a large plastic umbrella bought at a 7-11. Memories from this trip have been surprisingly sticky in my mind, especially when digging around through photos taken while there. My heart lights up a bit as memories start to flood in, holding loosely onto one another in a wave of “oh yeah, I remember that!” moments.

The photograph here felt like a good place to start in sharing some of these visual memories with anyone stopping by. I have a few cropped already and will continue to share and dig through them until I feel like I have run out of interesting things to post from the trip. The photo here today taken at a temple in Kyoto feels apt somehow as I start to notice my own hopes, prayers, and dreams start to neatly pile up around me. Tonight, sitting here in silence on any one random winter night, I find myself again considering an ongoing theme in my personal thoughts going into this year about time and its passing and find connections and metaphors everywhere I turn.

Or, lets look at this in a more, “hey, John, I’m just here for the wallpapers, wheres the link?” Oh, right. Ahem, links below, stop back by soon, lets see what momentum I can get going in 2018 shall we?

The Grand Staircase

Of all the strange, backwards, unexpected things that happened last year politically in the U.S., there was one that hit me on a personal level and left me feeling a subtle but deep sort of melancholy that has been hard to shake. That was the seemingly arbitrary act of shrinking one of the last vestiges of the untamed American west by such a dramatic amount. I am referring to the large cuts to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This truly humbling stretch of land is seemingly endless and beautiful, mostly untouched and free to explore in a way unlike many of the other National Parks available out west are.

Growing up I was caught up in the romanticized idea of the grand American west, southern Utah in particular, I was lost in the magic of Desert Solitaire, a book by Edward Abbey about living as a ranger at Arches in the late 1950s, and the impossibly beautiful photography of so many great photographers who’s lives work focused on the region such as Michael Fatali, I have always held this region close to my heart throughout my life through not only the stories and photographs of others, but ones from my own father as well. He would talk about his own trips west before there was as much of an impact from tourism in the region. Back when Moab was a smaller, more local town, Arches was a hard to access hidden beauty, and Mount Zion was more lightly visited. The last vestiges of the untamed west would slowly, but of course not entirely, start to fade as time pressed on.

Even within my lifetime I have seen a lot of change as camping and adventuring has become increasingly trendy which has caused more and more comforting amenities to start popping up to make it easier to access some of the most beautiful spots in this constantly evolving land. Amenities that seem nice on the surface but in some ways detract from the experience as a whole.

Among my favorite things about traveling in the region is the infinite quiet of the vast tracks of land and the ability to find yourself standing in a spot where you very well may be the single only person to occupy that land for dozens of miles. It’s a beautiful, unique feeling and part of the reason that the last few times traveling out there by car I would go in the winter to avoid the crowds of the busier vacation months.

Which brings us back to Escalante. This monument was (and yes, still is) an immense tract of land that is largely unsullied and difficult to access. There are not many truly wild, protected lands in the U.S. left and this area was set up as a protected land for a reason. If I’m remembering correctly, it’s protection was always somewhat controversial for locals in the area and of course it would be, I understand how it must feel to some, but some things are worth protecting for future generations to enjoy some of what previous generations were able to cherish and enjoy are they not?

Shrinking this monument by this mind boggling amount was a political maneuver in an endless series of actions which appear to do little more than arbitrarily tear down prior legacies, but I digress. I am not inherently a political person and have gone most of my life with this side of living it drifting along in the periphery of my mental space but even I can see that things are being shaken for little more reason than to take advantage of the chaos that follows. I look at the direction things are headed and hope we can figure out a way to come back together as a whole. This is much more than simply “us vs. them”, surely we are better than this.

But you know what, thats not why I’m here writing today. I will leave the political side of this for those who know and understand more about the politics of it. I’m here to tell my small perspective on the changes at the Grand Staircase by writing about why it means so much to me personally.

This monument is among my favorite places to visit while traveling west because I am able to feel some of the same excitement as generations past. Exploring a land with such minimal human impact is something to be cherished as it leads us to unexpected places and moments of genuine beauty and awe. The joy of driving what felt like forever down a long dirt road into the middle of scarcely occupied canyons and desert made me feel like the world is infinite. It has always made me feel as though there was still so much to explore and I felt the solitude of that place consume me, humble me, and empower my imagination like few places can.

There was one trip there with my brother that I often remember, I think it was my second time visiting. We had driven into the monument late one night, after driving in from Zion. There is an unmistakable high you get when traveling somewhere mostly unknown and this was no exception. We were following mostly paper maps and vague directions at the time as we found our way down unmarked dirt roads in the dead of night with little more than the beams of our headlights to track down an unmanned camp area where we could stay the night for free. (One of the perks of BLM land and part of the reason I so often sought it out while traveling out there, free places to camp, great for budget trips). We set up the tent in the dark several meters away from a cliff edge and called it a night. While we slept we had an unexpected couple of inches of snow fall on us and we woke to a beautiful sight, a canyon covered in the stillness and quiet of a fresh, white coat of snow coupled with the beauty of a cold orange and blue sunrise. Thinking back I can remember the brisk, thin air of winter in my lungs and the quiet beauty and excitement of that moment. Here are a couple of photos of that morning from whichever iPhone was sold in 2009, well before instagram and the like.

This little campground near the town of Escalante in the Grand Staircase is one I had remembered and visited on my own during a different winter outing which I took to get away from the world I knew and venture out on my first solo trip West. A spot that subtly set in motion a chain of events and world travels that changed my life forever. In fact, it was at this camp spot that I took this photograph:

It is an image YoungDoo and I hold dear because it was the catalyst for our meeting each other on Flickr so many years ago (11 years now!?). A photograph, among others, that caused us to discover each others work as artists and still stands today on Flickr as a sort of digital historical marker in our lives as it was the first interaction we had with each other.

I only just remembered this fact while writing this tonight and it really choked me up when I realized this place was partially responsible for everything I now hold dear to me in my life. An arbitrary fact, sure, but one that helps me respect and understand the value of having places like these to explore and share in our collective lives. The Earth is only so big and it gets smaller each and every day as we continue to grow as a global society so protected spaces like these are immensely important to us now, more than ever. They give me hope that one day my daughter Milla and future generations have spaces to explore as we did during our time here on this planet as well. It all connects.

Now that subtle melancholy I mentioned when I started writing tonight is starting to feel a little more like sadness and, well, I’ll drink to that. Heres to the great unexplored places in our past, present, and future, the ability to explore them, and the hope that we don’t fuck up things too much before future generations have their turn to explore what god has given us to appreciate and care for.

Please don’t read into this post too much, I’m not interested in getting too political here on 50ft. I wrote this to share my perspective and a couple of stories. I have respect for others point of view on the matter as well but this site has always been a place for me to vent and share my experiences with others and thats all this was, one persons point of view among many.

More information on the monument can be found here, and here.

A Little Something

I always like to give away things this time of year as way of giving back to everyone that has shown their love and support for the site, even if in a small way. I couldn’t quite raise the extra money needed to get what I wanted to have made this year so I decided to pack up three five envelopes full of the latest five images included in the 50ft Print Club series and send them off to three of you at random.

I figure the fair way to do it is have you leave a little comment below on this post, anything at all, your favorite emoji would work just fine. Then sometime around Christmas day I will pick three randomly and ask for your address to mail them off to you! Simple enough right? Don’t forget to leave your email in the comment field, it’s not listed publicly and of course I never use emails from comments otherwise. Thanks so much, good luck!  🙇

While Winter Whispers

One of the reasons I love winter is because it is such a great time for music. The cold, subsequent raise in time spent inside, and shorter days causes music to take on a different feeling altogether. We start to feel more sentimental and introspective in the winters stillness. At least in regions that have a significant winter I guess. Suffice to say, seasons cause us to contemplate life differently whether we realize it or not.

One of the tale tell signs of this time of year being upon us outside of the chill outside, is the emergence of holiday music reigning over the airwaves as if holding us hostage. Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually love all the classics, digging back through lesser known b-sides and unique takes on holiday music is something I always enjoy this time of year but sometimes its nice to break away from the endless rinse and repeat that we hear while out living our lives this time of year and that’s where Lullatone come into play.

Lullatone is a project by Shawn and Yoshimi Seymour who are based in Nagoya, Japan. I have followed along with Lullatones output since waaaaaay back in 2003 or so when I came across their first album on a small indie electronic music label called Audio Dregs while working at a college radio station. Their music defines the word charming by using a minimal approach to production, melody, and scope. It is simple music that always manages to bring me joy when I listen along.

Which brings us back to the winter and more specifically an EP of songs they created during the winter of 2014 called While Winter Whispers. It is part of a series of seasonal releases in which they did their best to capture the essence of the different seasons. The music is sentimental and heartwarming, the perfect companion for cold winter months. I recently rediscovered the EP because YoungDoo started using it as Milla’s sleep time music.

I love the way they describe the music:

“Here are some songs we made for winter. We think they might make a nice soundtrack for:
-watching your breath come out like little clouds
-catching a cold
-revisiting a book you’ve already read (or were supposed to have read at school)
-warming your hands on coffee mugs
-pulling a scarf all the way up to your nose
-soup
-“old people hobbies”
-hibernating”

Easily worth your time to check out this release as well as their entire discography if your into it, the music is available on most streaming services as well as BandCamp. To learn more about them check out their website which details the work they do with music, as well as listen to years of their output. www.lullatone.com

Speaking of which, this year they have been making little “one-minute concerts” that I have thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. The world could surely use more of this kind of subtle joy so I wanted to share a few here in this post as well as an embedded version of a cool music App they made with another artist. (If your reading this in the main timeline, follow the jump below to see them.)

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Atlantic November

So, turns out, up here on the northern hemisphere, snow is starting to fall as winter settles quickly into place. About a month ago I found myself working along the chilly coast of South Carolina in the late fall and while I did not have much of any free time to wander and take photos I did take the long path around the hotel grounds as an excuse to snap a photo here and there. I was lucky to find this charming old fence among the dunes to use as a subject and while the beach is not particularly a holiday greeting card kind of December image to share, I thought why not share a little sand with everyone anyway because we all have different versions of what makes this time of year special to us or not so who am I to say all I should be posting this month are photos of Christmas lights and other such paraphernalia.

You can find download links below, if you are on an iPhone X, rumor has it that iPad size wallpapers work wonders on these new devices but I have not had a chance to do any official testing myself I may sneak over to an Apple Store at some point to try some test files out. I’m one of the odd geeks out that chose the iPhone 8 this year rather than the talk of the town face ID phone. At any rate, I will see you again soon, I have some more planned to post this month if all goes well! In the meantime, Enjoy!

Download:

Things 2017

It’s that time of year again. To celebrate family, friends, common bonds, and I suppose to many of us, new stuff. It’s my personal belief to look for gifts that could be useful, unique, or at least not set aside and forgotten a month later because in that case, whats the point? I you have to ask someone what they want for Christmas then you’re doing it wrong.

If you have no ideas maybe just give something tasty rather than guess and buy someone a cheap something that won’t matter a week from now. Disappointment this time of year is a selfish feeling, wasted energy and its important to remind each other that the joy of this time of year is not in the biggest box, its in the quiet time we get to have with one another, right? Right.

This won’t be the last time I post this month but let me just say, I hope you all enjoy the season and if your not able to then I hope you find joy in some small way. It’s so important for us all to remember what we have in common rather than how we are different from one another and the holiday season is a great time to exercise that.

At any rate, for several years off and on I have written up a little gift suggestion post. Things I think are unique, fun, or overlooked but to be honest, it’s getting harder to make these lists. I don’t lead the most minimal life out there but I like to find products that will last and add something true to my life, so when I think about gift giving I try to consider things that could be more than fleeting. That said, the list this year isn’t as long, I kept coming up with ideas that I had included in previous years lists already. Maybe worth noting that none of the links below are affiliate links. Well except for the first one ;)

50ft Print Club Print Club Gift Subscription
After discovering a few subscribers to the 50ft Print Club had given the membership as a gift I decided it may be nice to offer up a single year subscription as an option. You can visit the original post on the Print Club for the back story but the basic idea is that each month I pack up a 4×6 print of my choosing, a letter that talks about the print, and often a little hand written note. I put it into an envelope, add a stamp, and send them off to subscribers. It’s a nice little collectable, a surprise piece of snail mail each month, and a great way to support what I do here on the site!

I am nearly to the end of the first year of prints in the series so I will start any purchase of this officially in January but will also send along one for December as well so you have a little something to show for the gift. Because of the one time purchase nature of this the digital bonus stuff from the Standard memberships won’t be included, just the prints. Think of it as a scaled back, simpler version at a discounted rate. Speaking of the rate, this single year cost may or may not see a little rate increase after the holidays, depending on how this goes, it’s a bit of an experiment. Also, please, feel free to spread the word if you know of any 50ft fans out there that may be interested. Thanks so much! Here is a link to the Regular 50ft Print Club/subscriptions as well as the new gift subscription and Tip Jar or directly to the 50ft Print Club Gift Subscription here.

Now, onto the rest.

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Past Is Present

Boards Of Canada was on when I was cropping this image so fans will know how the title drifted into my head today. I remember seeing this mossy fence on the edge of a pathway at a mountainside temple near Kyoto. The air was cool and damp and the temple was quiet after we arrived late in the day as most everyone else was on their way out. Somewhere in the distance a drum was echoing out through the grounds. I remember the small town outside the temple as well and how slow it felt as we waited on a train to arrive. Thinking about it makes the stressful day I am taking a break from by sharing a new photo feel a little more calm. How to hold onto this feeling is the real trick.

This is one of those images that was tricky to crop for a vertical smartphone because there was not quite enough empty space to fit the center column in there but I did my best. The full desktop size is lovely though. Hopefully it will bring you a little peacefulness as well should your day contain more stress than relaxation. Downloads below, enjoy!

To whom it may concern,

IMAGES FOUND WITHIN FIFTYFOOTSHADOWS.NET ARE ©JOHN CAREY AND MAY NOT BE USED FOR ANY COMMERCIAL USE WITHOUT PERMISSION. 

DO:

• Enjoy the images! It’s a labor of love, thanks for your support!
• Share fiftyfootshadows.net with friends.
• Send me a quick mail if you are interested in using an image for commercial or personal use other than wallpaper.

DON’T:

• Post desktops elsewhere online.
• Share links directly to images.
• Pass them around in mass.
• Make prints.
• Use images for web banners or graphics. (send a quick email to ask, I’m pretty easy going about this with permission.)
• Use them in commercial work.

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

——

By downloading any content from fiftyfootshadows.net you agree to the following terms:

All of the images contained within this website, fiftyfootshadows.net, are property of, John Carey unless otherwise posted. The images are distributed as freeware but they are available for personal use only on your personal computer, tablet, or smartphone as your wallpaper image. Any use of these images for any purpose other than this is a violation of these terms and anyone found using said images will be asked to either compensate the creator for doing so or be asked to stop using them immediately.

I ask that you refrain from using any images found on fiftyfootshadows.net to create physically printed material of any kind. This includes posters, photographic prints, fliers, etc. Under no circumstances may you make a physical reproduction without written permission.

These rules also apply for any artwork or imagery submitted and shown within this site which was created by an artist aside from myself. Any images submitted and shared as wallpapers are the property of the artist who created them and in the same manner as my images, you are asked to receive permission before using them in any way aside from their intended use. Any use of these images outside of for your own personal use as a desktop wallpaper image is prohibited without permission from the author of the image. Commercial licensing is available upon request. Please write with any inquiries.

When sharing images via your personal blogs I kindly ask that you link back directly to either the post the image was taken from or the base of the website at www.fiftyfootshadows.net and give a credit to www.fiftyfootshadows.net. Do not re-post full resolution desktop images anywhere without permission. If you would like to use an image for your blog background or something of the sort simply write to ask first. Support the artwork you admire! Also, it is greatly appreciated if you do NOT link directly to the zip files. This is more or less the same as re-posting them as it circumvents the tiny bit of support I ask of you which is to simply link back to the original post for others to enjoy the site.

It’s not fair to artists if you do not credit their work and link back to the original content creator. It is theft plain and simple and blogs that attempt to somehow be mysterious by not giving credit to the creators are simply hurting the artistic community as a whole. If you love it so much then please, support it! The artistic community on the Internet is based on trust. Without trust then what do we have? are you going to be one of the responsible users out there or will you be among the bottom feeders, stealing content and passing it off as your own to make a quick buck in ad sales.

Use your best judgement and we will get along just fine.

Thank you for your understanding and support!

John Carey (curator, owner)

fiftyfootshadows.net

fiftyfootshadows@gmail.com