Moonrise

For someone who has long told himself that he’s not really that much of a fan of the beach I sure do share a lot of photos taken from oceanic shores. Back at the Atlantic, and there in the distance you can see the moon rising as the sun set behind me. These are the moments you live through and know somehow intrinsically that it you won’t soon forget. Surrounding memories sort of clump together around these remarkable scenes and and they collide in our minds, forming a sort of mosaic of a period of time. The air, the sound, the smell, the reason you were at this place and how close to loved ones you may or may not have been. It’s beautiful and if you are somehow missing this kind of weight during times of genuine, life affirming, nuance then its probably time you re-evaluate your choices in life.

How has everyone been? I’m around, as is my lack of personal space and time so posting continues to be slow but that’s OK. The online world around this little web page has become so vast and distorted since the inception of fifty foot shadows that I’m not sure it’s worth my time to wonder if I should still be stopping by these pages to share. The answer has been becoming pretty clear to me lately that now, more than ever, spaces like these are becoming islands in the social online world. Slang and generations are shifting but people are still out there looking for their familiars and connecting in heart felt ways to others just as lost or found as they are.

All of the surface noise brought forth by the lurking masses simply fades away when you cozy into a place where you can feel comfortable and unafraid. So I hope you, dear reader, can still hop over here from time to time and know the internet can be both never ending as well as quite small. The photo here is of course available for you to grab and use as a wallpaper. It’s landscape so it naturally forms better to a desktop but there is a mobile version here as well for phones and tablets. HD file is over on gumroad. (Thanks to those who choose to continue to support!)

I hope to be back with a few more photos from this recent trip sooner than later. Till then, have a good one. Stay safe out there and look after each other. XO

Spirit

Having trouble finding my spirit lately. A couple months ago I finally was able to purchase a new camera for myself, to keep around with me from day to day. It was stolen from me, or lost, the details are hazy, but a month into having a new X100V around it chose a different path than one by my side. Then a lens on my iPhone camera cracked and I felt deceived by fate somehow. Cheated of what I try pursue so passionately.

It’s tempting to blame it on luck, karma, or some some other divine unbalance but really Its more a reflection of my state of mind. We’re all coming into this year shaken up, I realize my story is not particularly unique and there is comfort in that, I think. I still have so much to share, just no time to compile. Only hope, and damn it, I do still somehow find ways to add levity to each day. Balance out the nagging weight of the darkness in the well. I’m not writing for sympathy, I really am here to share a new photo and pass along an update for the devoted few who still check in on this page from time to time.

I will be getting a replacement for the X100V soon, I will be repairing my phone, but these feelings are sticky. Not a day passes where a song, a light, a photograph, or an opinion, doesn’t leave me ready to tuck myself into a corner and write about it, share it, collaborate with you all, but time is steam and clouds aren’t taking shape all that well lately. But they will come, and I can’t wait.

The hour I am stealing this morning to write and share something of an update here is the first I have had to myself  in as long as I can remember and I am happy to be here reflecting on my state of mind because I know I’m not the only one out there with heavy hands. I want to pad my posts here with more than these downer updates so how about next time I sneak in with a bit more sunshine.

Raise a glass with me, download this photo of a little sprouting leaf and get ready to grow. We’ll do it together. Cheers.

Variations On Blue

It’s been a weird month or so. Covid managed to worm its way into my home and all three of here us came down with it, thankfully without symptoms beyond manageable ones. We did our time and we are doing OK at this point and have gotten back into the swing of life again but life as I know it is askew in my mind. Work is as it was early last year where event production is slow and the live entertainment industry is still very much a volatile market to be working in but we’re managing one way or another and doing our best to plan for what will clearly be another tough year.

So I’m looking at time after coming from weeks of being inside for the most part, waiting and hoping that the impact of Covid doesn’t hurt as much this year. As I am out on job sites again talking to clients I discover more and more people who have felt the frustration and uncertainty of catching it as well and I realize how bad it really is. This is no longer something that friends of friends of friends catch, it’s everywhere here and to take it on is a coin toss.

As careful as we were and as hard as we try to take it seriously, it still snuck in. Not everyone around us seems to be able to share this cautious empathy for whatever reason. Whether aware of it or not, for some, cynicism manages to win. At any rate, whatever your viewpoint, surely we can agree the situation feels impossible, we are all trapped in our own interpretation of reality as it stands so when I say that life feels askew it’s not a poetic quip of an observation it’s a literal adjustment I am having to make within my perspective and my usual sense of optimism to keep from loosing hope. To maintain that sense of optimism I am constantly needing to shift the goal posts but every time I choose to look on the positive side of any given setback I still feel like I am making the only rational choice.

What a time to be alive eh? I don’t mean to jump in so gloomy, the reason I am really here is in effort to sneak by the weirdness of the world at large by hopping into 50ft land to to wax on about a few photographs for the first time in a while. Milla (my nearly 5 year old daughter) and I wanted to get out and get some fresh air after being inside so long so we chose to visit one of our favorite local trails and hike along the edge of a lake nearby.

Snacks packed and ready to explore, we drove out to greet a sunny but chilly afternoon and we were happy to find the trail waiting quietly for us. It had been a few weeks since getting out so my eyes darted around the surrounding forest and I felt intimately tuned to its wintery charm. Tiny leaves, red berries, and here among the few photos on this post, cool blue shadows on the lake and wispy delicate little seeds that pretty much begged me to widen my aperture and soak up the unassuming depth of this moment.

At the time we were sitting down on roots conveniently positioned near the shore. We made up silly stories as we ate and wondered aloud about things like other times we had visited this spot, if maybe it would snow again this winter, and which snack was our favorite. I may sound silly saying it but these little conversations felt poetic while spoken through some of the first fresh air I had been able to breath in quite some time. This crisp January afternoon was just what we both needed and these modest minimal photos take me right back to the side of the lake where we sat.

I hope you all are doing well among everything going on. Any time I stop to write for a while for the site I am reminded of all the lofty goals I pray I make time for around here but all the same it’s nice to have this space to share. Its reassuring to reach out and know that there are a few people around the world tuning in that may find solace in the words I pair with my desktops.

Sometimes it’s funny to imagine someone stumbling across a post like this, here maybe for the first time after clicking a link someone shared letting them know they could find nice computer wallpapers on this site called Fifty Foot Shadows. Welcome stranger! I’m happy you stopped by, enjoy the photos, links to download them are below and I hope to see you again soon.

(P.S.- iPad links are for any “mobile” device and HD versions are in the member downloads)

MNML Beach IV

Dipping back into a long standing series of minimal sandy landscapes which was named back when dropping vowels ws sppr cl t d. OK so that didn’t work at all. At any rate, on a recent little jaunt to the coast with YoungDoo and Milla we found our way to a serendipitous moment on a big empty beach during sunset.

As we explored the shore I grabbed the camera to shoot for a while and ended up taking a few usual “beach” photos then realized I should maybe try something other than yet another photo of sand and waves. The light, clouds, and sky felt just right for one of these intentionally pulled out of focus shots.

It’s actually kind of hard to capture a satisfying image like this because finding the right aperture and focal point makes a big difference in the way the broad shapes of a landscape gel together. I ended up settling on three versions of the moment seen here in this post each less and less obvious what it is we’re looking at.

I love these sort of “ambient” photos and the way they feel perfect as a rendered backdrop for icons on a desktop. “But John, don’t you have a copy of photoshop, can’t you do this with any photo? I don’t get it.” Yeah, but, this image has an authentic stamp of realities approval that you can feel good about ingesting into your daily wallpaper diet so roll with it. As for the color shift on that last photo, I reached this image, which was the most lost in that 50 f/1.2 blur, and felt I wanted to further accentuate the waining sun as it deepened the colors of the sky so a little color shift and drama felt in order.

Get lost for a bit in your imagination here. What do YOU imagine there in the foreground of these photographs? Breathe in…

P.S. Merry Happy Holiday Christmas Time Day. May you find that moment to breathe you deserve.

Photographic Timbre

I should admit, my prose is a bit rusty these days and this whole piece may seem a little out there, so I will try and keep this one short. Have you ever tried to listen to a photograph?

“They” say a photo is worth a thousand words, a statement that I have always considered to be a little silly, most photos simply sit idly with little more than the light they hold on to so dearly and breathe quietly, yet if you place yourself in a space of mental ambiguity you may be able to make out the song a photograph sings. Even if only faintly.

It could be as clear and obvious as a train passing, the busy sounds of city life, or the gentle swaying distortion of wind blowing through an empty landscape but sometimes if you really let yourself dive into the exercise you may find your imagination pull you in deeper. The rustle of fabric, laughter just out of frame, the key of a color, rhythm of a texture, or shallow bellowing drone of an empty field.

I think what most people may discover are connections to their past. Memory defines our perspective on everything so this practice can be a place to center your thoughts for creative writing or simply a means of escape.

This dawned on me recently while looking around on Flickr. If I stopped for more than a couple of seconds to look at a photo I could, to a certain extent, intuit its soundscape, so I started to try and put into words what it could mean; to consider something silent as having an acoustic space around it. What came to mind as I thought of a way to describe it was “Photographic Timbre”, a term that at least vaguely fits the criteria. It seems silly and maybe a little contrived if you’re a bit cynical about art but it’s a fun exercise all the same.

Maybe look at it as a mindful practice, one of reflection, gratitude, and awareness, and see where it takes you. Our life breathes music in every moment of every day so why not extend our perspective in a creative new way? Surely I’m not the only one looking for new or unique pathways to discover moments of peace in these unpredictable times. Maybe you will find a few extra moments of that solace as well.

Looking Back

So, I was casually jumping around a folder of older wallpaper images and found this deep cut sitting there all lonely after only seeing a release through an old iPhone 4 Retina update wallpaper pack or something of the sort and after using it for a week or so on my laptop realized how calming it was to have there waiting for me when all the work was closed up for the day.

I thought it would be a diservice to the world NOT to put it back up in desktop form. Sure, there are probably 1.2 million photos of an airplane wing but just LOOK at it, just a fraction of a moment before the sun had given up for the day there on that plane however high up in the sky. I know I’m not the only one feeling that drag from not being able to get out and see the world at large and for me at least, this modest photo brings with it a hopeful solitude and I hope that maybe you find a little bit of solace here too.

It’s been a year has it not? I miss you guys, I know you’re still out there, I see you checking in to see if something new has popped up here. I hope you have been doing alright, this ones for you.

(yes, the “iPad” link is still for all mobile devices)

Never-Ending Ever After

Years of collecting bits of audio, video, and photographs have all been poured into my newest project. An album of music set to field recordings made while traveling over the past 10 years of my life, most of which has been with my wife, YoungDoo, by my side. The physical release is as much a part of the album as the music itself. It contains a short story with photographs in a small hand bound zine as well as a cassette tape with a cool cyanotype sleeve, and a lathe cut record containing two of the tracks from the album.

I have been chipping away at this release and the ideas behind it for somewhere around 3-4 years at this point. Slowly but surely it has evolved to this point. It’s a love letter, a slice of life, a meditation, a way to break away from reality and join alongside another. It’s a story about memory and our relationship to it and to each other. It has ended up meaning a lot to me and it’s a package that will be available soon and I could not be more excited to finally bring it to life for others to enjoy.

The music video embedded below (Or link here directly to YouTube for full quality etc.) is the first taste of the album and is presented with a loose collection of videos taken while in Korea, Japan, and India.

See you again soon.

X100V

I have been on a patient hunt for a new every day camera for what feels like forever now. At first I had all but settled on a Sony a7II with a manual Voigtlander lens attached but upon reading more about the latest in the Fuji X100 lineup I was curious if maybe this was a better option for me so I rented it for a week to see if it fit my shooting style. I wont get into all of the details of the camera here, there are plenty of places to get that, this is more a dive into my personal feelings using it.

My attraction to the Sony was of course its full frame sensor in a smallish body, you can pick up the a7II for somewhere around $750 in decent shape. I was also lured by the fast Voigtlander glass available for it. But along came Fuji, stealing my attention away from the Sony by offering an X100 with a re-designed lens, which was what always kept me from loving the older models of the camera, they were far too soft wide open.

I was happy to discover the newly designed lens is pretty remarkable. I love its crisp but smooth rendering and was pleasantly surprised at the depth I could get from it wide open despite it being “only” f/2 and attached to a cropped sensor body.

When I consider the difference between the Fuji and other camera systems, one of the biggest distinctions is its in-body film simulations, the catch of this being that the resulting images are rendered in JPG format and I have no qualms with that fact. While shooting RAW is handy and some see the format as essential in their editing process by utilizing it to dramatically improve and embellish images in post processing, it has never been that important to my approach. The allure of capturing images which are more or less ready to share and enjoy with little to no editing is a huge plus in my book and is a space where the Fuji systems really shine.

Through the week I had with the X100V I slowly started to experiment more and more with what I could accomplish in body and was happy to discover a rich selection of options. Combining these tools with the way they react to the chosen exposure felt natural, charming, and distinct. I loved experimenting with over and under exposing images combined with different simulations and wish that I had more time to really dig deep into the possibilities here. The results have genuine, filmic quality about them.  As a reference for those reading this, I decided not to do any post work to the photos shared here today, everything here was pulled straight from the camera and shared here.

So, where do I stand after this week with the Fuji? I am genuinely in love with the beautifully compact body and lens as well as its ability to mitigate some of my post processing work which is important to me. Time is incredibly valuable to me as of late so I’ll take every second I can spare. Its ability to capture some of the essence of what I love about film photography in digital form is lovely and made using the camera a real joy. The lens, while it doesn’t offer the range of focus that I would prefer, I believe it is enough to use without sacrificing too much of my voice and style.

The only thing tripping me up a little in going all in with the X100V is the allure of the giant depth and rich character of a super fast Voigtlander lens paired with a full frame sensor. It would suit my self defined style of digital shooting using wide apertures as a means of simplifying composition and adding a distinct, sometimes flawed, character to my images which is why I had been looking at it as a solution. I like the idea of having that flexibility in my shooting and fear the Fuji may frustrate me at times when I am unable to get that kind of rendering with subjects further away from the camera.

The tradeoff for achieving this depth is a less inspiring and somewhat larger camera body. The Sonys are nice and all in their utility but they sure feel boring somehow. I want to have a camera that will inspire me to want to keep it out and use it. I don’t want to need a camera bag or case to take care of it. I want it to be there by my side to grab when I need it and the size of the X100V gives me that in spades. I have also glanced at the Leica Q or Q2 but I just can’t see myself raising the money for such a camera and even entertaining it as a viable option feels like a tease.

Since I started sharing photography online, the art form has become mainstream and is full of countless trends and opinions yet my philosophy and approach has long remained the same; Simplify my toolset and seek out ways to get the camera out of my way so I can enjoy the moments I am capturing. The Fuji X100V sure seems like a perfect solution for that mentality.

What do you think? I know some of you reading have followed along for years now, feel free to chime in. I don’t think this will be the last digital camera I ever pick up but with a tighter budget at this stage in my life, most signs are pointing to this being a logical happy medium.

I’ve dumped a few more photos from my short time with the camera below. I ended up having a busy work week so I had even less time than I had hoped to play with it but I think I had it long enough to get a pretty good idea of what I could expect from life with one by my side.

            

4.20

Back with another monthly release! I will admit this one is a little self indulgent. I was inspired by some of my favorite ambient music releases which feature intimate soundscapes layered by found sound, improvisation, and honesty. What feel like imperfections are often intentional and each sound was either knowingly recorded or gently manipulated with a minimal hand.

This month has been a strange one, we can all admit that right? I chose to take advantage of all the time spent out in the sun with my daughter Milla and started to pull out the voice recorder app on my iPhone to record stretches of time spent with her. Once I noticed how nice it was to collect moments this way I started bringing out musical instruments here and there to include in our outings. One day it was the Pocket Piano, another day Milla chose a harmonica, and one afternoon in the back yard I brought out the OP-Z to control my Roland JP-08 and Pocket Piano.

During that last recording the JP-08 battery died while I had a nice little loop running as Milla and I relaxed in the shade so later on that night I pulled out a cassette tape 4 track and made another variant to the looping rhythm I had made earlier that day using the built in delay on the JP-08 and again controlling it with the OP-Z. The cassette added a nice texture to the loop and I layered this under further recording of that afternoon as the spring breeze made its way through the treetops.

I have fallen asleep to this recording a number of times since finishing it. I love the way it turned out and may explore this idea more down the line, recording little live improvisations in different environments and seeing where they lead me. It’s such a relaxing thing to do as long as Milla’s patience manages to hold strong.

Thanks again for tuning in, I hope some of you enjoy it. As a bonus I have included a desktop of the album art photo. You can’t quite make out the toy watch face in the photo but it reads, “IT IS NOT TOO LATE”. Something we picked up in Seoul years back.

Bandcamp Link here.

See you again next time.

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!
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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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John Carey (curator, owner)

fiftyfootshadows.net

fiftyfootshadows@gmail.com