After nearly 10 years of operation fiftyfootshadows has seen the landscape of photography online morph and change in all kinds of ways. Communities have come and gone, trends have caught fire and flickered out. As often as things seem to change I have been right here, in my own little world on 50ft, jogging along side the shifting landscape. I love this work and I am eternally grateful for the encouragement and kindness everyone has shown through the years. Let’s start by looking back for a moment and where we have been, then move onto the new.
Hey there everyone, just popping in to say merry happy happy and I hope you guys have been doing well. I have five of these cool 50ft logo decals to give away just for fun. A little something to give back for hanging around through this busy year here at camp fiftyfootshadows. I have been putting the last few touches on bringing back regular posts around here and kicking off a new phase of the site. can you believe its been, what is it… nine years since launching this project!? Madness. Still plenty of life left in these humble pages and I look forward to the future!
If your interested in a decal take note that they are four inches in diameter, so not particularly small, seen pictured above on a 12″ MacBook for reference, so I ask that you only ask to be entered to “win” one if you want to put it to good use. I will pick five people at random to mail them off too, free as free can be, let’s say, on the first day of the new year. All I ask is that perhaps you share a photo of where it will live out its sticky life for prosperity. Leave a comment below if your interested, make sure to leave a valid email (they are not published). No tricks, no spam, just a bit of fun.
Thanks to everyone, I hope you have a beautiful day and I hope to see you again here in the new year!
When the world feels as though its spinning out of time, as if the only thing holding it together is fear, it can be hard to sort out which way is up. When life makes me feel this low it’s easy to wallow in the feeling and let it take control of the core of who I am, and for a little while, thats OK. I think its important to feel anger, sadness, fear, or grief. These emotions are part of life’s balance and are key to opening new avenues of understanding, mindfulness, and tolerance.
We are the sum of what we trust and accept as the truth and in that we are all who we are for good reason. What we allow ourselves to consider as fact, or as right and wrong, or as good and evil, it’s all connected by fragments of honesty hiding in every viewpoint. It has been said many times and many ways because it’s true, we are the sum of everything and everyone we have come to know in our lives up to this moment. Our truth is our maker and that truth is both what divides us and what brings us together.
To unite is only as hard as we tell ourselves it is and to understand this is to accept that there is more than one version of any truth. To unite is to find ways to exist together within common ground and find compromises to exist outside of it without judgement. The only thing that keeps us from finding this is hate and fear which all too often in todays world is born of misreading each others personal trust and truth. Baseless assumptions.
I wish there was a way to help a divided nation of people understand each others point of view, no matter how far removed from each others truth it may be. However, something I have learned recently from my seven month old daughter, there is a moment at the end of each day when there is potential to feel exhausted to the point of becoming delirious with fight and vigor and we shut down anything and everything rational in our minds because we fear what hides behind our closed eyes.
We fear the unknown and that is exactly what we are facing. A change so opaque that none of us feel at ease enough to peacefully close our eyes at the end of each day. All we can seem to muster up is a sense of entitlement and an inflated confidence that our way is the best way, so we fight and scream against all that we feel is unjust but all this does is make the lines that divide us more and more deafening and stark.
So. Where do we go from here? Me? In the face of such a deeply divided unknown and seeing reports of violence and hate against one another, all I can do is want desperately to be the best me that I can possibly be to anyone and everyone in my path in hope that others will feel that not all is sideways in the world right now. A colorless blanket of acceptance and happiness is the best thing I think I can personally offer those around me.
This was a surprisingly difficult conclusion to come to this past week because of a pervasive realization that I could not find a sense of Joy in anything at all for a time. Not even my daughters smile was snapping me out of it. I wondered if she could sense that my smiles and laughter were not genuine as I searched within myself to capture the most basic of life’s fundamental meanings.
As time progressed I chose to turn to music. Simple and pure, starting with somber ambient albums which helped fill in the cracks between my thoughts. I quickly discovered a glimmer of focus among the chords and slow motion melodies. I eventually let in some rhythm and as it fell in sync with the beating of my heart I started to feel the sun on my face and the cool fall breeze on my skin again. Then, little by little, I remembered the power of Joy as it fought back against the darkness.
It is a feeling that was just heavy enough to fight the fear back to where I could start to see beyond it.
Now I can’t help but wonder when the last time many of the people I pass everyday have felt true joy. Did they notice as a flock of birds drifted past a beautiful sunset? Did they enjoy the face of the moon on a clear fall night? Did they feel the warmth of their loved ones hand as it gripped around theirs in the cold? Did the beat of their favorite song send chills down their spine as they sang their favorite verses out loud?
Joy is an essential stepping stone away from the darkness. Not the plastic manufactured Joy on the front of Christmas cards and holiday sweaters, but true, life affirming, heart beat rising, Joy with a capital J. It can be sneaky at times, hard to catch and embrace, but the next time you find even a glimmer of its light I suggest you wake up, grab hold of it, and focus that energy into something good.
Yes, find joy, then give it all away.
Seek it out, recognize it, share it with those around you and lets hope for all our sake that it is contagious.
The late summer rush has faded like a sunset off in the distance in a rear view mirror while driving back home from the west. At least that’s how I’m imagining it right now. Work and trying to find a pattern in being a father has eaten up my time as if it was a disposable commodity but it feels good to be back here on these pages, sharing with you guys for the first time in a while.
It’s the time of year that I start to consider the future and with the looming election upon us nothing feels certain aside from the joy in my daughter’s smile. As long as that stays firmly in place I feel as though things could be ok. Is it possible to feel sentimental about the future? Falls into the category of a daydream, or hope maybe, but it’s a feeling I try to capture and hold onto as days slip by.
So as I dug through old photos that I thought would be nice to share after a long absence from posting, this frozen lake stood out. The scene is from a rest stop off the side of a highway in Korea which we came across during a day trip the last time we were there. It’s stillness gives me pause, so much water and land lays frozen and calm. The photo eases my mind and gives fuel for the hope I spoke of a moment ago.
Approaching the end of another year I look at 50ft and hope that I can push forward with new ideas that will help secure its future. I am one tiny step away from kicking off a new era and I truly hope to take that step in the next month here before the holidays take hold. At any rate, we all have a big week ahead of us, wishing us all the best, hopefully this frozen lake brings you a little bit of calm as well.
I have really enjoyed posting work from other photographers lately, its been both inspiring to get back behind the camera and a nice change for these pages to see images and stories from others. Among those who submitted images to share here on 50ft was photographer Benjamin Dreer who shared a few great photos with me. I settled on this subtle image which I thought, despite its simplicity, must have a good story to tell hiding inside its composition. Sure enough, Benjamin wrote a wonderful story to pair with the photograph:
“This photo was taken on a visit to Soulac-sur-Mer, a commune in the south west of France. The small town has a wall separating the beach area from the promenade leading through and out of the town. Almost at its end where the town is less touristy and the beach a bit wilder, a rusted old bicycle loomed over this wall. It was rotten, but neatly placed. The way you won’t place something you just want to get rid of. I ultimately thought about stories that explain, why it was sacrificed here to the salty see air months ago. I took this picture to remind myself to keep thinking about the most fascinating and enthralling story and write it down some day. Thoughts came and went, but the story is not yet finished. I am wondering whether the bicycle it is still there, the day it will be completed.”
While Benjamin does not currently have any of his work to share online you can say hello via email here.
It’s quite something to see all the armchair analysts out there share their opinions on one of the few universal audio jacks of the world. The venerable 3.5mm Phone Jack, the 1/8th” cable, the mini plug, the headphone port, the jack plug, the AUX chord, whatever you want to call it, it’s ambiguous and it’s everywhere.
The polarizing swath of opinions has felt louder than most big shifts in the technology world and for good reason. This isn’t a floppy drive or pc only data port to transmit data, it’s a universally accepted means of transmitting electric current to power speakers and there is one fact in the middle of this discussion that is easy to forget; audio reproduction is inherently analog. There is no such thing as digital audio only digital audio transmission and conversion.
This is where things get interesting to me in terms of the future. The 3.5mm phone jack was popularized in portable electronics long, long ago. These plugs could be listed in a dictionary as defining the term universal. An overwhelmingly large percentage of personal electronic devices manufactured in the past 30+ years that featured the transmission of audio has had a 3.5mm audio jack to fill this need.
This modest jack is an overlooked cultural icon, a globally recognized one at that. Even with the birth of better sounding bluetooth audio standards the port has hung in there in as being synonymous with music transmission known most recently in pop culture as the apparently venerable AUX cord. (Yet I remember not long ago it still was universally called simply an iPod cable by most.)
The sheer magnitude of the ports assimilation into modern society will be one they won’t be able to shake off over the course of a couple years but I can see the tide shifting eventually. Even with Apples marketing team flashing the death of “100 year old” tech. The core concepts of audio reproduction remain no matter how hard you try and shake it off.
When looking closer and really considering what Apple has done today, the only people that will be frustrated about the missing headphone jack in the long term will be music lovers like myself who want and sometimes need to have the flexibility and ubiquitous acceptability of a universal analog port for audio output.
Unlike the simplicity of analog audio, wireless audio transmission in its very nature is never going to be truly universal and will always require some variety of proprietary language, adaptor, receiver, etc. and for the general public that will be little more than another hoop they need to jump through to enjoy modern technology and by the looks of it, Apples AirPods are doing a great job of simplifying that process.
While many of the stop-gap dongle adaptors of apples past have since become more or less obsolete, I have a feeling this one will hang around a lot longer than many of their previous vendettas against old technology. As long as they keep putting headphone amps inside of the phones that is.
The idea of a cordless music experience for personal listening is a future many, including myself, have looked forward to for quite some time. I always figured that the point in time it would become ready for prime time would be when they managed to take the iconic apple earbuds and make them wireless but it always seemed impossible. Light enough to not burden your ears, simple enough to manage and keep track of, and with a battery life worth considering. On the surface it seems like they have hit the nail on the head but there are a couple of points I wonder about.
First and most obviously the cost. Could they not have hit a $100 price point at very least? At $160USD they are positioning it as a premium product thats for sure. A little strange considering its a flagship feature of their newest and future phones but I have no doubt that many will jump on board anyway.
As for keeping track of them? While it’s an easy target for the usual new Apple product jokes, I don’t think it will be that big of a deal honestly, unless you are prone to loosing things. The handy carrying case is a nice touch and makes perfect sense.
All in all the timing of ditching the dedicated audio jack feels pretty familiar as far as Apple is concerned. Just as wireless headphones are getting to the point where discerning ears are starting to accept them and a few competitors were able to show their own seemingly clumsy solutions for smaller wireless options Apple swoops in and lays the groundwork for the future. Business as usual.
Something else I wonder, if the audio port abandonment actually manages to stick as an industry trend for smartphones, I could easily see a future where standalone digital music players become trendy again among music lovers. Just a thought because I already know that will be the case for me down the line when I inevitably purchase an iPhone without an audio port.
So, the iPhone 7, a heavily refined iPhone 6, slick, powerful, and as beautiful as ever. Still though, like many others, I can’t help but wonder whats REALLY next up in the story of the iPhone. Cutting one of the oldest cords in the book is a bold move, sure, but it feels like a change they are just getting out of the way to make room for something even cooler coming down the pipeline.
Back again with another guest wallpaper, still one or two left in this series before I jump back in with some 50ft originals. This time we are at the beach again with a beautifully grainy film photo from Manchester, UK based photographer Josef Szotten. His work has a relaxed yet confident style that I really enjoy and I am happy to share one of his images here with you today. Here are a few words he wanted to share along with the image above:
“My wife and I just moved to LA from the UK a few months ago and we took a road trip up to Big Sure along with a few friends. It was March, not quite tourist season so less crowds, but it meant it wasn’t as sunny. In preparation for the lack of bright light I loaded a roll of CineStill 800T in my camera. It’s a film that originally was made for motion picture but was repurposed for 35mm photography. It brings out those lovely tungsten colors and I was itching to see what it would do with the California scenery.
Once we turned off from the freeway we got onto this tiny windy road, taking you slowly down from the tall shelf that was the Big Sur coast and down towards the hidden beaches. We didn’t meet any other cars on the way, we didn’t see any people around. The road was just building up for what was to come. This photo was my attempt to capture not just the scene itself but also that anticipation, the build up, and – with the help of such a lovely film stock – the “drama” of the cliffs and their beach.
You can see the ever so slight halation on the rock edges, the light just dying to break through, only just managing. A hint of the sun in this otherwise cloud covered scene. The movement of the waves. I think it all really just comes alive. I’m a huge fan of film photography and this to me feels like it’s really doing the film stock justice”
Finally, after over a year of its absence I think its high time to get the 50ft Radio series back up and running. I have had a few playlists in iTunes brewing this whole time and while at first they focused on specific genres, I ended up mixing them up for a more eclectic mix with a number of different genres making an appearance. Going forward I hope to keep the running time right around an hour and see what I can do about getting them out more often again, at least seasonally.
Please, respect the music, respect the mix, and respect the artists found here. If you love the music then seek out the artists and buy their albums, go see them live and shake their hand, support them in any way other than Apple Music or Spotify if you truly want to support them.
Now, on the backend. Starting with this mix I am trying out a couple of new things, first off there is now a podcast feed. It will not be broadcast to iTunes and the like, it will only be available here for those who want to follow along this way. Just pop this into your podcast app of choice: http://fiftyfootshadows.net/feed/podcast
Speaking of which, I am back to mp3 again and will most likely stay here for the foreseeable future. Now that there is a handy tool to add chapters to mp3 files I am making the move because Apple has clearly lost interest in enhanced AAC files. The only issue here is that you need a playback app that supports chapters in mp3 if your interested in the ability to jump around and see what you rare listening to. I am jumping into all of this untested so I may have to back up and try again but heres hoping everything just works for everyone, just hang in there while I iron out the kinks.
A direct link to the mix is here for those who simply want to jump in and listen or store it away wherever you would like. DO NOT link to this file, share this file, take apart this file, etc. Again, have some respect for the music it contains and I’m sure everyone will get along just fine. Simply enjoy it for what it is and if you want to share then point people here. Thanks for your understanding and enjoy!
Update: As requested, here is the playlist.
Back with another beauty of a guest wallpaper for you guys, this time from Brian Kennedy aka sasquatchfuzz. He sent along a few images and this one quickly jumped out at me as such a peaceful moment, straightaway I knew I seen something special that should be shared. Heres what he had to say about the scene:
“I was born and raised in Phoenix as a third-generation native. As a kid I always loved our family vacations into the wooded wilderness that differed so much from the desert scenery I was accustomed to. Trees, greenery and water seemed so foreign, and I was drawn to them like a magnet. I have such fond memories of hikes through Sequoia National Park, Yosemite, Durango, Colo., the Hoh Rainforest, Rocky Mountain National Park and many others with my parents and sister. Fast forwarding a few years, my wife and I decided to leave the Phoenix area and headed up to the PNW where we find ourselves sharing the outdoor beauty with our two young kids. This photo of our younger son was taken on a recent hike over Memorial Day weekend in Moran State Park on Orcas Island in Washington. “
The North West is one of the few areas of the U.S. that I have not yet had the opportunity to explore and scenes like this one always make me jealous of those that live in the region. I hope you enjoy the desktop as much as I have. To find more of Brian’s work you can visit his tumblr page here.