Object No. 12

Object No. 12

Children’s toys were once so simple were they not? This is another object floating around in my collection that has no story, it just is. No battery, no screws, just a few holes drilled into sculpted wood. I enjoy having this around as a reminder of how simple things have the potential of being when reduced to their bare essentials.

Because Spring

Because Spring

While the weather can’t seem to make up its mind anymore I have finally started to see spring try to break its way through the cold, rain, ice, and snow that has lingered for the last couple of months. A little warm sun and time outside is something I have been looking forward to for a long while now. I’m sure this won’t be the last seasonal desktop on these pages, my camera is just as desperate as I am to get some sun.


Smart Watch Apathy

It’s amazing how a rumor from what feels like ages ago stating Apple may be making a “smart watch” caused such a dramatic ripple through the tech industry. The slow, predictable attempts to beat Apple to the punch are reminiscent of the swell of news about “slate” computers just before the launch of the iPad. Trouble with this approach of course is that Apple doesn’t really wear its heart on its sleeve, who knows what direction they will take its users in.

Whenever I think about smart watches I can not help but imagine a late night infomercial selling the idea complete with black and white disaster footage of mobile phones slipping out of hands and crashing to the ground as users helplessly try to pull them out of their pocket. Smart watches are a perfect example of a forced evolution of technology. While most technology progresses naturally, attempts such as this feel as though they were born out of a lack of fresh ideas and emanates a desperation to innovate before Apple makes it’s next move. The real question in this flood of reporting and opinions on the idea that I don’t see asked enough is do we really need another hardware platform right now? I have to give credit where its due, that Android Wear propaganda video sure does make you think we do.

The problem here is that the idea of a smart watch feels dated no matter how modern you try and make its interface look. In todays market the idea is an exercise in frivolity and tries to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Do you really think Dick Tracy would care about his watch if he had an iPhone in his pocket? Many seem to forget that much of what has defined changes in the consumer tech market over the years are simple claims of contradicting physical attributes among competitors. Bigger, smaller, thinner, longer, stronger, faster. It is a culture of gullibility and marketed desire. New for the sake of new.

We are at a point though where there is still so much to be explored and fine tuned within existing, established platforms. Unity of data and information among devices and multiple platforms is still far from being fully efficient or reliable. The idealistic vision of future technology that most of us picture in our minds is impossible without more of a mutual respect among competing platforms.

The only concept entering the market with any honest potential for wider adoption is the continued development of activity tracking wearables and it’s not at all surprising that Apple pundits are gently nudging readers toward the idea of Apple working on something other than a screen strapped to our wrist. Seems obvious enough considering their addition of an activity tracking chip in the 5s.

While competing players in the market are more savvy and persuasive than ever before, there is still plenty of room for them to sweep all these hyperbolical concepts under the rug and latch onto whatever the mass market decides to accept ignore. Never underestimate the tech industries ability to turn a blind eye to failures.

In a world where social media has groomed us to be comfortable sharing our lives loudly it seems inevitable that semi-intrusive technology will continue to grow and take advantage of this fact over time. I’m just not sold on the idea of  smart watches both currently on the market and waiting in line to be released, being the next big thing.

(The watches pictured above are made by Uniform Wares, YoungDoo and I bought them together to celebrate our wedding and I love them. Though they no longer make the model seen here they have plenty of other great watches to choose from.)

Blue Ridge Fog 5

Blue Ridge Fog

Rainy days don’t always have to ruin plans. This past weekend my brother and I wanted to head out to the mountains and shoot around so rather than let the rain get the best of us we pushed right into the thick of it and drove blindly on into the fog. A steady rain left us a bit damp by the days end but quiet landscapes and some fresh air made it all worth while.

At this point I have seen and taken enough fog photos for a lifetime, even with the most beautiful subject matter hiding in the middle I find using fog to capture a mood gets old after a while. Hard to deny its appeal though. It’s an instant fantasy land and the never ending curiosity and uncertainty of not knowing what is beyond your line of sight can be addicting.

We made a few random stops as we drove down a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway and managed to get a few nice photos in along the way despite them eventually closing off part of the parkway due to what I could only assume was fog to thick to safely navigate through, visibility at times was so low that car headlights of oncoming traffic crept almost out of nowhere at times and made for an unpredictable drive along the slow, winding roads of the parkway.

I went ahead and made six different images from the day into wallpapers to make a nice rounded pack of desktops for you guys. While some aren’t particularly perfect I think they came out nicely considering the nasty weather we had to work with. Enjoy!

Blue Ridge Fog 1

Blue Ridge Fog 2

Blue Ridge Fog 3

Blue Ridge Fog 4

Blue Ridge Fog 6

Object No. 11

Object No. 11

I can’t remember where I had first seen a Daruma doll but I have long since enjoyed the idea behind them. The most widely known use of the doll involves painting in one eye while making a commitment to accomplish a great task or goal. Close to making a wish but more grounded in realistic goals. The second eye is painted in when the goal has been achieved. There is a long history behind the legend of these paper-mache dolls and it’s an interesting read over on Wikipedia if your curious to learn more.

While I have never spent any real time exploring Japan, I have daydreamed and read enough to feel as though I have. The only time I have spent there was in an airport while passing through on a connecting flight in Tokyo and this is exactly when I came across this in a gift shop full of trinkets from the country. I still have hopes to eventually make my way to Japan to fulfill a long standing goal to explore the land of the rising sun. Until then, daydreams will have to do.



Most towns and cities around the world that I have spent a fair amount of time in have a few local spots that I find myself going back to for the sake of the reliable comfort they bring. A neighboring city in NC that I work in from time to time, Winston Salem, has a great local coffee shop called Krankies Coffee.

It is part coffee shop, part bar, part venue and even has a dedicated gallery inside for art unlike most coffee shops and their art above tables of laptop users. In the main room they also roast their own coffee so the place fills with the aroma of roasting beans on many visits. It’s a truly great spot I always stop through when I am in town. They have a satellite shop setup on the other side of town inside of an old retrofitted airstream camper which comes in handy at times.

The wheel in this photo is part of a home made bike rack outside of Krankies that is frequently full of bikes. Thought it would make a nice image for the bike lovers out there. The flecks of red paint on the spokes are what attracted me to take this shot, a detail that made all the difference in my mind. Enjoy.

Object No. 10

Object No. 10

I bought this music box in a shop in Europe years ago as I was thoroughly lost in daydreams and the mind numbing realization that there were so many places in this world to get lost in. Surrounded by unfamiliar walls and unknown languages it felt as though I would never run out of ways to get lost both physically and emotionally. The world felt infinite, comforting and intimate.

This was just before the hysteria of smart phones took over our lives. If I remember correctly, I was carrying the recently released first generation of iPhone with me which went mostly untouched during the trip. While it was a cool device, my world didn’t revolve around it, I didn’t feel the need to be connected at all times and share constantly to keep everyone in the loop. I simply wandered the streets of Paris, Vernazza, London, anywhere the train let me off, camera in hand, no expectations or specific destination, only a sense that the world could go on forever if I kept walking forward.

No matter how much time passes there are ghosts from these places where I felt lost that cling themselves onto melodies, colors, light, objects, anything. They wait patiently for their chance to appear and haunt my thoughts for a time. Some of them grow weak and leave me be after a while but others hang on tight, grip strong and steady as I go about my day.

The melody these metal prongs play is one which echoes in a white room with a door to any number of different outcomes. It was during this trip that I learned to never underestimate the creative power of being lost and the lasting impact it could have if I continued to take chances and never settle on anything outside of what I was honestly passionate for.

Living a life with risks and always staying curious enough to wonder what is around the next bend in the path ahead has lead me on amazing adventures and taught me valuable lessons about myself and the world we live in. It’s easy to fear that first step into the void but the regret of not taking it is something you can’t take back.



Unless you have been under a rock I am sure most all of you know Nils Frahm by now. A modern composer who’s compositions center around the piano but often drift into modern experimentation using synthesizers and creative playing styles that lead to some truly beautiful music. In his most recent release, long delayed on vinyl, he has released a set of live recordings as a means to closer connect his audience to the versions of his music heard at his live performances.

It’s interesting to see how a modern classical performer allows his music and compositions to evolve while he explored ways to perform them live as opposed to their original forms aided more by home recording techniques. These live recordings offer a look into the intuition and creativity he has as a performer and I love every minute of it. I could see this record easily becoming a long standing favorite over time and suggest you grab a copy of your own before they run out.

Object No. 9

Object No. 9

There is no reason this was shot on a bed. I was searching for a nicely lit space and it seemed like a perfect spot even though the scene and the object have nothing at all to do with each other. But maybe this adds something to the shot in a way, a subject and its location don’t always need to justify each others existence. Though sometimes a subject that feels forced into a location, like a model too obviously staged somewhere can cause an emotional separation that can be distracting.

Yet here we have an old wooden typeset letter stained in old ink from long forgotten publications and somehow it feels right at home in my bed. The displacement is almost irrelevant because of the calm, glowing afternoon sun and the mood it captures in our imagination as we spy on this letter over the edge of a blanket.

It may seem like I am reaching a bit far out here but this kind of exploration of a photograph is how we discover what we like about photography. Having an understanding of why we enjoy the photos we enjoy can lead us to a better understanding of our own photographs and those of others.

Looking back on my history with a camera, it took years of slow progression and growth to feel as though I was in control of my own style. At first I emulated others I admired then slowly started taking these inspirations and applying them to my own ideas and exploring new approaches and formats once I had a better understanding of what it was that I liked about my favorite images by others. It’s one of the most important steps of a photographers development but also one of the hardest to overcome.

Discovering ones style behind a camera is sometimes easier than we would think but often easy to overlook if your not paying attention, so keep an eye out and don’t be afraid to over analyze your favorites.

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


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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.

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Thank you for your understanding and support!

John Carey (curator, owner)