My Year In Music

The trick with making any “best of” anything list is that it is totally subjective, especially in a site run by one person. The music found on this years list isn’t really a best of by any stretch of the imagination. The list found here in this post is a collection of the music that caught my attention this year. They are the albums that I kept coming back to after hearing, the ones I probably also bought a vinyl copy of it was available.

2013 was one of those special years when music and ideas all seem to come together in fresh new ways and it was really exciting to have such a constant flow of inspiration coming in all year long. As you know I have no one genre that I stick to or prefer over another, I typically have more of a natural radar for what I think is good. I listen to what speaks to me personally and that varies quite a bit.

Music is more to me than a modest distraction. Music is a huge part of who I am, the crackle of a weird synthesized sound can bring out just as much emotion as a gently sung poetic ballad. I love sound and I love musicians who don’t take its exploration lightly. The music I tend to gravitate toward is that which I can clearly feel what the musician felt while creating it. It’s a powerful tool for any creative mind. A life without music is a life without warmth and joy as far as I’m concerned.

That said, let’s see what artists spoke to me this year, it was hard to narrow down to be honest. My original list was a good amount longer but I did the best I could to keep it reasonable. There are things that I took off that I probably shouldn’t have and a couple that probably deserve to be on here that I have not had a chance to hear yet such as Nils Frham’s Spaces and countless other great music that never even had a chance to cross my awareness. 2013 was a great year for music and if you have not heard any of these I highly suggest you take a minute to check a few out.




Just Because

You guys should know by now that I love giving things away around here. I enjoy giving back to those who support me with this site and this year I found another fun thing or two to give away. This time around I decided to give away an Olympus XA I bought while out traveling this year. For those of you who aren’t familiar these are amazing, tiny little rangefinders and while they take a little getting used to because you are manually focusing on such a tiny camera’s split focus style viewfinder they will reward you with some fantastic film images. They were manufactured in the early 80s so most copies you find out there have a couple of quirks and this one is not alone.

The light seals/foam along the back door of the camera are gummy and worn out. I will clean out the gunk for you before I send it but it will be your responsibility to replace these seals if you come across any light leaks while using the camera. It is not a camera known for having problems with light leaks so you may be alright but I wanted to point this out for anyone interested in tossing their name into the hat.

Also, in order to get a good exposure you will need to set your ISO at least one stop brighter, or perhaps even two if you like a nice bright feel. This is according to my own tests of the meter that is. I know film is trickier to work with these days so please only enter to win this camera if you know you will put it to good use. I would hate to see it go to someone and have it simply sit on a shelf for the rest of its life.

So, are you interested in this slightly flawed but wonderful little camera? Simply leave a comment below mentioning you would like the camera and I will add those of you who are interested into a drawing and see who the lucky photographer will be.

But wait, theres more! I have decided to also give away an 8.5×11 Fine Art print from my latest endeavor. Should you be interested in winning one of these limited prints simply hop down to the comment section below and let me know! I will pick one winner from all of the entries.

I will pick a winner on December 26th and be in touch if you are the lucky one!

Update: You guys are amazing, you know that right? Thanks so much for the unexpected kind words among the comments below, I have chosen the winners and they know who they are at this point. I really do love giving things away from time to time so I’m sure those of you who missed out here will have another chance somewhere down the line. Thanks again. 

Guest Desktop

Holiday Guestop 2013

Is it that time of the year already! Last year I managed to have this great idea for a fun holiday wallpaper but this year I was unable to figure out where I could get ahold of the prop I wanted to use for it and sadly, the time grew closer and closer and I knew I would not be able to come up with anything fresh. So, whats the second best thing I could do? Why look to you guys for help, of course. After taking to Twitter looking for help I came up with four bokehfull images, just in time for the holiday. I would love to find time to more often feature guest desktops here on 50ft and hopefully in the new year I will find that time to kick long standing idea back into gear. For now though I will get right to it, to the wallpapers!

The image seen above was donated to us by the always curious Fabian Gehweiler, who is no stranger to these pages and if I remember correctly, has been following along since my days with twistedsun.net! The image is titled ‘Weihnachtskitsch’ and in his words you are looking at, “A detail capture of a Christmas tree from the Christmas fair at the Potsdamer Platz, Berlin.” I remember seeing him first share this beautiful photo bursting with color online and was envious of the crazy Russian lens he used to take it, the Helios-44. You can find more of his amazing work over on his Flickr page here.


This image was found by chance while following a conversation on Twitter. After seeing it on his profile header I immediately knew it would make for a beautifully minimal holiday desktop. I love the somber color and tone of the image and the way it clashes with the usually cheery Christmas lights. Photographed by Chancellor Monnette and simply titled ‘Faint’ and he mentioned to me via out email correspondence, “I was at an event we put together for our students in my church’s youth group.” It takes a watchful eye to capture delicate moments such as this and I hope to see more from him in the future. You can find more of his work here.


Next up we have NYC dweller Joel Zimmer who I was fortunate enough to meet up with and have a coffee the last time I was in the city. He takes full advantage of his life there and always seems to have his camera out and about with him and posts new photos nearly every day to his Tumblr feed which you can follow along with here. This photo was shot in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Ready And Waiting

Last, but clearly not least, we have this slice of my own life from my wife YoungDoo who’s talent behind the camera constantly has me questioning my own ability. If your not following along with her daily photo blog I highly suggest you head over and browse for a while. Now that I think about it, it’s sort of a backdoor view into my own life as well as she documents her crafty endeavors, delicious cooking, and adventures we go on together from day to day. She shot this while we were decorating our tree this year. I also recommend you have a look through her personal site which houses her beautiful design and photography portfolio here.

That’s that for this year’s holiday wallpapers, I hope you guys enjoy the guest images as much as I enjoyed discovering them myself! We will have to do this again sometime for sure.



Tell me, how much is a photo worth to you. How often do you feel so connected to a photograph that you come across online, on instagram, flickr, Tumblr, anywhere really, that you come back to it a second time. In the age of being bathed in images day in and day out you can’t help but get a little numb to what you see scroll by in front of you. Mass photo sharing sites are the worst for this epidemic. Instagram? Sure you may scroll along endlessly and double tap photos till your hearts content but what does this process mean to you personally? What images speak to you on an emotional level?

Some say portraits are more engaging, for others it’s street photography or photojournalism. No mater what type of photography really tugs at your interest I am really honestly curious when the last time you went back to look at a photograph a second time after coming across one you enjoyed and more importantly, why did you come back to it? When you tap a like or favorite button do you do it because you want to see the photo again or perhaps is it more a means to let the photographer know you exist and appreciate their work? Most of us have never stopped to ask ourselves these seemingly basic questions.

Personally, as I have mentioned in the past, I am typically quite stingy when it comes to the use of the favorite buttons on various social photo sharing sites. I don’t know about you but I put a real value on the photos that I choose to call favorites online. I didn’t always do this but over the past year or two I have grown increasingly picky. This is because I decided to become much more aware of my own taste and made a conscious decision to be more constructive with my online viewing habits.

To be honest, and I don’t think that I am alone here, during any given day I am likely to come across around a dozen or so photos that I stop for more than a single second to appreciate. I have seen so many photos at this point that I can quickly read into them and it is rare that I find a photograph that holds my attention for long. Many photos that seem delightful on the surface are only that, a surface, with a pretty filter applied to it to gloss it up a bit, images that only exist to further a trend, to collect their due and fade into the noise. Even beautiful, majestic scenes seemingly pulled from a fairy tale are ripe to fade into obscurity if they don’t hold anything that truly sets them apart.

Recently the thing that stops me from scrolling right on by is when I see a photograph that makes me wonder what is just outside of the frame. I find my favorite photographs to be ones that do not simply hold a moment in time, tidy, obvious, poetic, and ready to be easily digested, but ones which leave me wondering why I am so drawn to them. Photos are inherently obvious yet the photographer has the power to capture the things he sees in a way that invokes curiosity. Even family photos can hold this quality. I think the best word to describe this characteristic is a photograph is its level of honesty, something I have talked about before among these pages.

Sure, some photographs try so very hard to tell us a story within a fraction of a second, and so many writings glorify this ideal of the decisive moment but fact of the matter is that the story behind a photograph is but a simple ruse, an illusion. A photograph is not telling you a story, it’s your imagination that is telling it to you. The story is an assumption and we all have slightly different perspectives when it comes to these assumptions based on so many variables. Our emotional connection to the subject matter, our education and background, our expertise in taking photographs ourselves, it all folds up into a neat and tidy thought within a fraction of a second and judgement is made based on these personal assumptions. The most successful photographs are able to find common ground across a wider scope of possible assumptions.

Many of us view photographs with an absent, distracted mind as we play into social networking games and click through like buttons as though it’s advancing us through levels of camaraderie and mutual respect for others out there shooting. Photography to many is digested simply as a means to climb the ladder and that’s a real shame but there is no way to avoid it outside of, as a viewer, knowingly distancing yourself from these habits.

Therefore, as photographers, the only way to stand out is to break away from the zobification of our shooting habits in the same way. The best process for discovering your true voice behind a camera is to ignore the noise and create photos from outside of your network bubble. Following trends is all fine and good until they shift and you’re stuck constantly trying to keep up with whats next. Thats no way to be noticed because your photos will always lack honesty.

In shooting outside of what comforts us, beyond what we feel others expect us to produce online we can free ourselves from the assumption that we must produce photographs that get in line with the others we so mindlessly flip through day in and day out. It is perfectly normal to feel inspired by other’s beautiful work but it’s vital to ask yourself WHY you enjoyed it as much as you did and rather than duplicate your favorite photos and styles, try instead to find ways to share your unique viewpoint on the life you see around you in a way that represents the honesty of the moments you capture. Of course it is impossible to completely ignore other photographers who inspire us, it’s a natural evolution, but we can at least do our best to fight through what we think people would expect of us and create images that radiate with life and mystery like only we can see it.

As viewers, the next time you choose to give a nod of approval, take an extra few seconds to sort out exactly why it is that you like the photo so much. It only takes a moment and getting into the habit will lead you to become more self aware both as a viewer and as a photographer.



On our meandering route to Canada a couple of weeks ago we made a pass through Boston and Rockport, Ma and despite frigid cold weather we had a great time exploring and taking photos. Both YoungDoo and I have a number of rolls of film that we need to send off from the time up there but we also walked away with plenty of digital photos to spare. I have long had a soft spot for the Northeastern U.S. and it was great to be up there again for the first time in a long while. I chose a few images that felt like they pretty well represented our time up there, rain, boats, and large bodies of water. A couple of these images were a bit tricky to crop for iOS because of the composition but I did my best, thanks for stopping by enjoy the new wallpapers!

fox view the horizon waiting



You may remember I spent some time in Canada recently and on the way back across the border we decided to stop through Niagara Falls because I had never been and it was more or less on the way. Being cold and the off season we had the place more or less to ourselves which was nice but the ice and cold mist did make it hard to explore too much. I took the opportunity to record a bit with my newish iPhone 5s in its slo-mo mode. I chose to reverse the video as well for no reason other than because I could and because it makes it more peaceful somehow. I remembered I had the video today and figured why not add some music and share it with everyone. You can see the clip below or in full HD on Vimeo here.


50ft Radio Volume Nine

Almost made it to volume ten at this point eh? This mix was actually one I made a few months ago and had all the intentions in the world to release it in the summer. That in mind I think the music included is mostly better suited for the summer months. The first side I compiled with a mix tape in mind, something to pop in while driving, the second side toned down for evening. Most of the music on this volume is older because I figured that newly released music gets enough love already and there is so much great music from the past that gets a little more obscure with each passing year so why not dig a little deeper from time to time.

Would anyone be interested in a best of the year list here on 50ft? I was thinking about putting one together this year because there was so much amazing music released this year. As for future mixes, I already have one brewing, another ambient one because you guys can’t seem to get enough of my quiet mixes. So despite this one being a couple of seasons too late I hope you find a few songs to enjoy in here.

Please, do not share or re-distribute the file, the reason I make these is to introduce great new music to anyone willing to listen in. If you find a song you enjoy then by all means look them up and show some love! Direct link to Side A zip. (peak inside) Direct link to Side B zip. (peak inside)



While I wasn’t sure if I could pull off another holiday gift idea guide, here we are, a little late into the season but I found a few nice things none the less. I do my best to find things that are not already posted in every other holiday gift guide online. Like last years list these are things that I personally enjoy or would enjoy having around myself based on my own random standards. I have written up a little bit about each thing on the list and included links to either the company that makes the item, or a nice webshop that sells it. No affiliate links here, just sharing the joy.

My previous two guides are still just as fun and relevant as ever and can be found here and here. Follow the link below for this years ideas.



Fine Art Gliclée Prints

After endless testing, questions, and time considering how I should best handle it I am ready to start selling prints here on 50ft. I am really excited about it actually if you can’t tell from the tone of my voice. I have ordered my shipping supplies and will start shipping next week if all goes according to plan. I even have a gift card option for the holidays or otherwise. I have set up a page dedicated to the information here in this post for future reference but wanted to also leave this information in line here on the main site stream for those of you interested click through to learn more!


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)