Low Res

A Quick Word On Resolution

Here we stand on the cusp of a new era of display technology and as they evolve I realize I must evolve right along with them. The challenge of the moment is compatibility with as many displays as possible while remaining as simplified as possible in my approach to sharing. I know there are some who like having ten different links for many different displays but I find this excessive and a waste of time. As long as I am offering images at resolutions capable of looking good on the higher resolution screens available today the smaller screens are easily able to scale down the images. Over the years I have done my best to upgrade current and future desktop images as needed to match the growing resolutions of displays but lately it feels like I’m trying to shoot a moving target.

There no way of telling what resolutions apple will move to in the future and I just can’t bring myself to start making wallpaper resolutions to reflect screen resolutions that don’t exist outside of aimless rumors and speculation. It’s a tricky spot I am in these days. My plan is to continue to upgrade resolutions as things evolve. I have a few ideas concerning prepping for the future while gathering up full resolution images of every desktop I have released on 50ft in one place but this won’t be implemented until later this year as I continue to make new additions to the site.

I wanted to write today simply to bookmark this date as a divide in posts here on 50ft. From here on full resolution desktop images will be offered at the resolution of the new MacBook Pro’s retina screen of 2880×1800 (until something changes). After a brief bit  of testing at an Apple store I am satisfied with the look of current/past resolution images on the new display. While not flawless I feel they still look pretty fantastic on the new display and for now I will simply leave the older images be as they are unless there is a large unrest among readers wanting their favorites at the new resolution. If you have any thoughts on the matter please feel free to email me or leave a comment below. I will continue to do the best I can to support newer devices and resolutions as I always have. I will also be making adjustments to the design of the site to better accommodate these new displays. All in good time.

Further thoughts: After a bit more reading up on the matter I am more informed but equally conflicted and how to proceed. Apple makes the desktop images built into the OS available at a resolution of 3200×2000 which I see as a clear indication that the resolutions of their displays will continue to grow as they expand the pixel dense designs to their other products. This is a wonderful technological growth and only makes sense at this point that things will head in this direction but for me, from a photographers standpoint it’s raising red flags in my mind.

I was always able to justify sharing my photography at the resolution I currently make it available because it is at a resolution that could not be reprocessed physically or used in commercial work without a moderate level of scaling and quality loss. While I love the Creative Commons mentality and fully believe in its values I personally can not make my images available in those terms because I am not simply an amateur snapping photos because I enjoy it. Photography is a huge part of my livelihood and while images in todays world seem disposable to many people there are those who find an honest value to the photography they and others with a like minded dedication and passion create.

If I begin to release images at these resolutions I put myself further at risk in the slippery world of sharing online. A good example of my hesitance happened recently, a design blog that simply farms content from around the web to show off creative ideas or imagery wrote a lovely little article on 50ft and pointed people in this direction but in the last line of the write up the author suggested that people could further enjoy the images found on my site in the form of a physically printed poster by printing them using PrintRunner, a printing company that I have oddly enough used in the past but have no affiliation to at all. For some reason they figured this was ok to suggest.

I have always embraced sharing some of my photographs online in desktop form as a means to spread the love of what I capture and I will of course continue to embrace this method of sharing but I have to take actions to push forward with some of the plans I have had for 50ft a little sooner than I had expected.

Many of Many of you know I have been planning to start up a shop here on the site and currently my plan is to open this up in the fall later this year. Within this shop I will be selling not only printed material but hopefully other fun things as well. Opening it feels like a natural progression for the brand I am slowly building around fiftyfootshadows and I am quite excited to finally start to see ideas feel within reach.My end goal will be to help monetize the work I put into 50ft in an effort to be able to dedicate more time into making it a great resource for original images, commentary, and more.

If you have not noticed, I take pride in my attempts to keep the content here unique in its perspective and approach and within this effort I stray away from posting articles or content  designed for mass appeal or heavy linking aka. “link bait”. I will never post anything second hand and any images or content you find here will be directly from its creator. It is my belief that this approach leads to a trust and honesty that I find lacking in much of the web today.

This brings me back to the matter at hand. I have decided that I will most likely begin supplying my desktops at the even higher resolution of 3200×2000 but prior to this I need to put just a little more thought into implementing one of the plans that I have been juggling in my mind for a while now. You can expect an announcement soon with more details, I am excited about the continued growth of the site and I can’t wait to see things fall into place in the near future. Thank you for your patience and, as always for your ongoing support, heres to plenty more great things yet to come.

Update: As you may have noticed, I have still been releasing at my old resolution and this will continue until I have time to get a new system into place for the distribution of higher resolution versions. Thanks for your patience, as always.


  1. Alex - June 15, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Carpe Diem. I shall continue to look forward to your new shots and just appreciate the photos you have taken in the past. I look forward to: receiving my new Retina Pro, & to seeing the first photo you post with that massive resolution.

    Keep up the great work.

  2. Paul Anthony Webb - June 15, 2012 at 6:34 am

    I used the new Retina MacBook Pro today as well. The interface elements in iTunes look absolutely stunning. I’ll be releasing my future wallpapers at the same resolution as well.

  3. Richard - June 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    You realize the full resolution is not available to applications yet, right? In the Color LCD control panel, resolution maxes out at 1920×1200.


    Right now, full resolution is only available to games. I imagine this applies to wallpaper as well, but I could be wrong.

  4. thedoo - June 15, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I like the pixel image, especially the colours.

  5. john - June 15, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Richard, That certainly is interesting to read more about how they are handling the scaling of a screen resolution such as this which makes sense to me seeing as its going to be a slow and steady transition into this new world of pixel dense screens. I will go back and check the resolution of the supplied desktop images and see what Apple is offering them at. I can’t help but imagine they are using the full screen resolution for them, it only makes sense after all but I will check a little closer today before releasing my next image, thanks so much for the tip!

  6. Richard - June 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    The wallpapers included with Mountain Lion Preview 4 are all 3200×2000, so perhaps wallpaper *is* rendered at full resolution. All the chatter I’ve seen indicates most apps run in scaled mode with some Apple and Adobe apps (Final Cut, for example) running part or most of their UI in full resolution.

  7. john - June 15, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Ah, I see, thats interesting, maybe I will base resolutions off of Apples images then. Whew… its a very high resolution though, ALMOST the full resolution of my 5D which is crazy to think I would be making my images available at those sizes which could easily be abused. Strange new world were moving into here. hmm…

  8. Manik Rathee - June 15, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Not sure what your web dev skills are, but it would be relatively easy to have javascript look at a directory and make individual URLs for each image with a certain slug in the filename.

    It would take some work out of setting up the blog post at least.

    Now making the wallpapers, on the other hand, would still be the time consuming part.

  9. Street - June 16, 2012 at 9:00 am

    This seems promising; Since about December ’11 I’ve had a dual-screen setup, and so the photo’s have been too small to fit across both displays. If you go with the 3200×2000 Resolution it’d fit my screens (1680×1050 + 1280×1024 = 2960×1050).
    But it’s completely up to you, I realize this would create issues with your watermark, etc – I’m curious how often work is stolen at the current resolutions?

  10. jankees - June 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Did you see this App? http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/will-it-fit/id521680466?mt=12

  11. Nat - June 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    You’re the best, John.

  12. john - June 18, 2012 at 5:11 am

    I do use a simple script to help with links already that gives me the amount of control I like to have over such things.

    Yes, images do have a tendency to wander off and in a few cases I have discovered them in use on products and printed material without my knowledge. It’s not something I get upset about really, It’s just something I like to try and minimize however possible.

    I had not seen that app, pretty nice concept, thanks for the tip.


  13. Blair - June 19, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Personally I think the resolution of the top banner image is just gorgeous. Very crisp.


  14. SoundMan - June 19, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    By chasing Apple’s new screen resolutions you are on a slippery slope indeed as a professional. You are perhaps underestimating the consequences of providing your images at such high resolutions for free. A simple google search of your name and web identity fiftyfoot shadows reveals well over two million links that includes not only countless abuses of your copyright but just as many out and out instances of theft by others profiting off of your hard work and talent. To post a notice of Copyright is not enough according to the law if you don’t vigorously defend it. Without enforcement copyright is mute.

    The background desktop picture phenomenon is the modern day equivalent of the art collections privately owned and proudly displayed on living room walls throughout the world for personal enjoyment. I would even go so far as to suggest that you have taken it to a new level by specifically designing your desktop images to not compete with, but work in harmony with, the busy place that is increasingly the center of a vast number of peoples lives – their person computer screen.

    As you mentioned briefly above 3200X2000 is way too close the RAW resolution of your camera and the JPG compression artifacts are insignificant to the vast majority of consumers. It’s like giving away the studio multi-track masters of a recording artist.

    The wonderful more than generous sharing of your experiences and images on the web over the last ten years is laudable and has no doubt been a valuable personal tool that have helped you develop your art, but it’s past time that you let your fans mature into patrons. Your admirers have often asked to be able to contribute monetarily and you have steadfastly demurred. This is the perfect time let your audience share in your art.

    I have the perfect solution for you to consider. Make your high resolution desktops (including for the new iPad) available only by subscription. Take a page from Apple. People are willing to pay for what they want if it is reasonable and easy. Say make it $25/year which by taking last year as a metric is less than $1 per image. You can still offer your lo-res images at no cost for those bent on a free ride if you wish and your Patrons get the special high resolution versions for a small fee. Your real fans get what they want and you get some compensation and a degree of control over your work.

    Also pick a service from the many repeatable quality venders available on-line and offer a poster print for a dorm room wall and another higher quality framed and signed version for the living room wall for the real collector. Then maybe you can avoid the ‘not so helpful’ advice from blog site author in your example above which at the current time is the only way to get a print if you want one. Plug the hole for the demand before your potential customers find their own way to get what they want.

    Michael Fatali does not give his images away and neither should you.

    Where do I sign up?

    -Your original and biggest fan-

  15. thedoo - June 20, 2012 at 4:54 am

    You should listen to SoundMan.

  16. MedsRX - June 21, 2012 at 3:50 am

    Absolutely agree with soundman the quality of your work is lightyears beyond the freetographer level. I don’t see why you couldn’t charge a subscription or per image fee for the ultra high level. Those dimensions are giant!

  17. The Retina MacBook Pro: Sexy is Back — The Brooks Review - June 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    […] render all of my background images obsolete. While it doesn’t make the images look great, they don’t look horrible. For me: I am keeping what I currently use as background images, while also keeping an eye out for […]

  18. Terry Majamaki - June 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Great post. Everything is going to start scaling larger and larger thanks to Apple changing the way we view our displays. Ever since the retina display for the iPad, I’ve been offering my desktop photos at 3360×2100 and iPad at 2048×2048. I suspect these will only grow in time.

  19. Moneypenny - November 15, 2012 at 12:50 am

    How do you make images like the one above the title? I’ve noticed similar ones which are made to resemble faces and used as profile pictures. I want to know how I can make one.

Leave A Reply

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)