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.

50ft Japan Wallpaper Pack +Zine

The time has finally come to let this out into the world. It only took me six years! Back in 2014 I took a trip to Japan with YoungDoo and while I did share a few of the photos here through the years since, I had never committed to put together the big set of digital wallpapers I had wanted to release.

I’m here today to rectify that. I have a new pack from the trip available containing 62 photographs. I chose to offer it up for sale with full HD versions in an effort to raise money for a couple of 50ft related projects that I have been trying to get up off the ground for what feels like forever. The cost starts at $1 and if your not able to contribute at all but are in need of some fresh wallpapers just let me know.

Your support would mean the world to me and I would be endlessly thankful if you would consider sharing the news through your social hangouts to help me spread the word.

Also! I have decided to make a limited run of printed zines containing all of the photos from the pack!

I go into much more detail about everything on the page that I have set up over on Gumroad so rather than keep you here, why not hop on over and have a look? I have thumbnails of all of the images there as well for your browsing pleasure. Link Below:

The 50ft Japan Wallpaper Pack

(Or, my gumroad profile here)

Calm Spring

Has anyone else noticed how quiet nights are lately? I was wondering if it was just here in my area or if universally around the world nights are as dead silent as they feel here. Waking up in the dead of night feels strange when there the world is totally still, for a split moment here or there my mind goes to dark places before I can shake it off so I’ve been letting ambient music take the edge off.

Yet you know what? As weird and disorienting as everything is, I have been connecting with part of my mind that I have not had a chance to visit in ages. I dug out a Nikon to Canon adapter and mounted YoungDoos Nikon 50mm f/1.2 lens on her 5DII and have started to shoot with it. It’s a classic lens that has a soft and dreamy vibe to it. The gentle feeling of the photos it captures is lovely and calming, just what I could use right now.

So when Milla and I head off to a field and stream nearby I brought it along but more on those photos later. The photo here today is from my backyard. All of the spring flowers are just past their peak bloom now but it’s still a sight for anxious eyes to see. I’ve cropped them on down and prepped them for your digital wallpapering needs. HD versions for big screens are in the members library (along with another new wallpaper pack that you will hear more about soon).

iPad link is for all mobile devices BTW, I still need to get around to tweaking my site code for this.

Things I Am Thankful For No. 1

I’ve been thinking and slowly making a list of simple things I have felt thankful for these past few weeks as the world collectively slips into an unpredictable future. I have wanted to spend more time writing, gathering photos for wallpapers to share, and creating things but life with a 4 year old is proving to be a near insurmountable obstacle to achieve such goals. Tonight, somehow she fell asleep a full hour earlier than usual so I slipped out and decided to write.

Where to start, looking at my list here it’s hard to decide. I have had a lot to be thankful for lately but let’s start with something simple. Let’s start with a book. Just as news started to indicate that things were getting heavy here in the states I decided to make a trip to a book store and find a couple of new books that I could enjoy with Milla (said 4 year old) and spent too long considering options. She loves picture books and she loves to imagine so I took a chance on something new to her, a graphic novel.

I knew I would have to point to the panels of the book as I read them and I would also need to invent story and dialogue to help her follow the plot and sort out what was happening within panels without dialogue but that seemed perfect to me, a chance to be creative with her and connect in a new way.

I stared at shelves full of options for several minutes knowing full well I shouldn’t be hanging around browsing books for long and one lonely yet stout book jumped out at me high up on the shelf. A book called The Adventures of Anders, written and illustrated by Gregory Mackay (series website). The simple illustration of a cat with a bug on its back as it flew through the sky seemed somehow perfect. I glanced through its pages to discover a charming world of friends new and old paired with mild adventure and I followed my instinct and bought it without hesitation.

Over the course of a week before bedtime we worked our way through the three stories and many chapters of the book and came out on the other end with one of Milla’s new favorites. It’s a truly wonderful book and I have genuinely loved reading through it with her. There is a charming balance of humor, adventure, wit, knowledge, and life lessons hiding among these pages. I love the way tension or conflict may get introduced from time to time along the way but these tensions dissolve into joy at every turn. The authors ability to explore trust and friendship is heartwarming.

Each of the three stories play off of each other and slowly introduce new characters into the fold. Now, Milla knows all of the key characters names and has favorites she chooses to pretend to be while we’re out in the back yard having our own time to explore.

I would love to go into more specifics but I’d hate to spoil it for anyone. I have a feeling this book would be great for kids of all ages as it explores friendship in such a wholesome and fun way and leaves plenty of room for imagination and curiosity. It’s been nice to have this to share with her and I wanted to take a few minutes and share it with anyone else here that maybe could use a light hearted graphic novel as well.

I’ll be back again to make my way through this list of modest things to be thankful for, sometimes products, sometimes moments in life, because I hope to maybe inspire someone else to consider the things they have been thankful for even when life is a bit on the messy side. Hang in there, stay healthy, be kind, and I’ll see you again soon.

Monthly Music

There is a lot that has snuck under the radar here on 50ft this year. Mainly because I have not had time to focus on fixing a few issues I have had in the backend. What little social media posting I do is all I have been doing to connect with the world at large and while traffic here is pale in comparison to where it once was I know there are many of you who still come by regularly and I love you for it. So, let’s catch up, starting with music, original music that is.

You may remember a year or two ago I released some original music on cassette tape. Most of the music I make at home or while out and about is made for me, experiments in sound, texture, or rhythm. It’s relaxing. Oddly enough, sharing music makes me feel quite anxious though. It feels personal in a way thats tough to explain, but on the other side of the coin it feels important to push myself to share some of my creative output in light of not having a daily shooter for digital photography around at the moment.

I have decided to see if I can release new music once a month this year, sometimes ambient, sometimes upbeat, but always something monthly. So far so good, I have two releases up to share on bandcamp, I’ve chosen to make them “pay what you want” to be fair in regards to the nature of the project. Money that is raised I will set aside for printing a small zine I have been working on to be released with a full length album that I have been sitting on for at least a year now and feel its time to release to the world at large.

I have been and will continue to release them on bandcamp, the best place to support independent music online. There are descriptions of each release over there. If you’re interested, here is a link, enjoy!

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!
• 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.

DON’T:

• 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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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)

fiftyfootshadows.net

fiftyfootshadows@gmail.com