Up Hill Battle

Just a quick note.. I have not been able to post lately because of a hard drive failure on my laptop which I hope to have resolved tonight. I have a number of things lined up for the next couple of weeks so keep an eye out for a great new Flickr Spotlight, new desktops, and more in the coming week or two. See you again soon!

My Olympus XA

I recently bought a new film camera to ease my hunger for the two more expensive ones that I really would love to get my hands on, a Bessa R3M and an old Hasselblad medium format. The camera I bought is an original Olympus XA which were made between 1979 and 1985 I believe and I was lucky enough to find one on ebay that ended up being brand new in the original box that had never been used and I could not be happier with it.

A few months back I bought the XA’s successor the XA2 which was kind of a simplified version of the XA and I really enjoyed using it and was surprised with the quality of photos that I could get out of a camera so small. The thing that drew me to get this second, original, XA was the fact that it is essentially a fully equipped tiny rangefinder with manual focus and aperture priority shooting. The original also had a faster 2.8 lens which I love seeing as Im always shooting in dark places. I shot a quick test roll to test the mechanics of it and check for light leaks and whatnot and it worked flawlessly so I stuck a roll of Portra 400vc inside (which I later discovered was expired) and gave it a chance with some nice film.

The following photos are a handful of images from that roll that I thought i would share here. A lot of these, if not all, are either on my flickr stream or will be soon. Please pardon the scan quality of the images as the scanner I’ve been using is a bit archaic.. Also, the more I shoot film the more I’ve been thinking of writing up a short article on my approach to shooting, something that may be useful to others getting into photography or others interested in what I look for when I take a camera out to shoot something. Its just one of many ideas floating around in my mind.
















Over the years I have had a growing fondness for a good bag/backpack. Im not sure when it started really. Maybe with my first Gregory internal frame backpacking backpack which was stolen a while back and replaced with the newer model of the same bag. I just love a good sturdy bag for my things. This drove me to find Timbuk2 many years ago back in their early days where they only sold a couple of different styles of bags and I loved that bag for a long time, it seemed like it was built from stone or something and I still have it around and use it from time to time when I need an extra bag around. Eventually I thought I should get bag specifically for a laptop so I bought the first laptop bag they made when they started making one and I was happy enough but something always bothered me about it, the construction of the bag was just not up to par with the other bag I bought from them, the materials seemed cheeper and it was not as comfortable or easy to use but for some reason I just put up with it for a long while.

At some point I decided it would be nice to have a mid size backpack for short trips and work, something that would properly hold my laptop and cables as well as a few changes worth of clothes and other sorts of living items you may need on the road. This is when I finally bought a bag from a company that I had been interested in trying for a long while, Spire. What drew me to their bags was the idea that it was a small company working hard on what they loved to do, making and designing bags. I love small companies like this because more times than not you will find that the workmanship is higher than most; kind of what timbuk2 used to be like before they became the empire that they are now. Also with smaller companies you get a much more personal experience with the company because you are buying straight from the people that made it.

At any rate I bought the biggest backpack they made called the Meta and never looked back. It’s the perfect size bag for what I needed and then some. I was more than happy with the construction and fit of the bag and for over a year now I have used it to death. OK, not literally to death seeing as it’s still in as good of condition as the day I bought it which is a lot coming from me because the things I buy tend to go through a lot and I can be pretty rough with the things I always have with me.

So recently I finally was able to get my hands on a replacement to my always annoying every laptop day bag from timbuk2 and I bought a Spire messenger bag, the smallest they offer called the Viro which is for my 15“macbook and I LOVE it. Wonderful, flawless construction and materials and the design gives me just enough space and some extra for when I need it and I tend to carry a lot with me because there are a handful of essentials that I always have around including a camera (sometimes two), a handful of various audio cables, my big headphones, a little power strip, a light meter, my laptop and power supply, various pens, a notepad and a few more odds and ends of things that I tend to use from day to day. The thing I love about the bag is that it feels snug and holds everything close without sacrificing space inside the bag, while I’m wearing it then it does not get in the way like other bags I have used before this and its a wonderful thing because it seems like I am constantly on the move. One of the best parts is that they still manage to be economical, at least in my mind. The Viro here is only $80.

I am writing all this to give my recommendation to anyone in the market for a great backpack/ messenger bag take a minute to check out the great stuff at Spire and write a simple quick review for those of you who may be interested in such things. I always do all sorts of research and digging around for the best stuff I can find on the market within my price range and this is one of those companies that I am so happy to have come across, great products and friendly people making it. Can’t beat that..

Click here to visit their site.


That red in there is a wonderful sleeve I bought for my macbook because I decided to treat this one extra nicely. The padding in the spire for the laptop is actually really nice as well but I still use the sleeve because Im just extra careful with this one. The sleeve is from another amazing company called foof based out of Australia that makes wonderful things as well! Link for them here..

Pixelgirl Presents


I have been messing about with a personal website for 10+ years now it seems. Early versions of sites that I would make were just to learn more about it and see what was possible. I used to love to make little hidden links and things all over the sites and just play with ideas. In the beginning the only people that would go to the site was family and friends I told about it.

As time went on I decided that I wanted to try and generate some traffic to my site and so I started working on a new version of the site that was more of a portfolio than a toy site. I added design work that I had done and photography and things like this and as time went on I realized that a great way to bring some people into the site would be to make some of my designs available as downloadable desktops for visitors to download. After setting this up and adding a dozen or so desktops it hit me that I had to find a way to get the word out that these were here for people to find and download so I began to search around and came across a few sites that could help me out with this. I added a link section to my site and started to trade links with all sorts of other desktop wallpaper sites. This is back when website badges were all the rage, you know, the tiny little gifs that were often animated images.

So traffic started to trickle in and I saw the statistics start to climb and by the end of the twistedsun.net days and still today actually, 15-20 thousand visitors a month which may not be a lot in comparison to some but I was always happy to see so many people enjoyed the things I was posting.

At any rate, way back in the beginning there was a few sites that really did help bring me to this sort of recognition and traffic and one of them is Pixelgirl Presents. Her site was really young at the point when I started sending images over for her to post and through time this was what really started to bring me in more visitors to the site and I am and always will be grateful to this site and others that helped me get where I am today. So if you have some time head over and check the site out, there are countless of great desktops to be found there after years of building this database of images there. If you dig back through to the earlier ones you may be able to find some classic twistedsun desktops.

Sorry for rambling on and on here, I just thought that some of you may be interested in a little bit of the history about how I got the site going. Maybe I can find some of the old versions of the site to post sometime… hmmm.. there was one that I always liked a lot but I wonder if I could find it.

As a bonus for checking out pixelgirlpresents.com you will be able to find an exclusive image from me that has been posted as a featured desktop so take a look! The image above is the photo that you can find there now which is one of my very favorites from this series. I have a couple variations on the subject that I will post here sometime as well but in the mean time head over and check it out!

To whom it may concern,



• 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.


• 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)