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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!

This Day

(Originally tried to post this earlier this year but have had an issue with permissions lingering that I’m starting to wrap my head around so finally here we go. Once I get things working again, I plan on starting to post more. This place feels like a home away from home and I long for it.)

This day we set off to explore. There was a vague idea to find somewhere in the mountains and find a spot Milla would enjoy. A few hours later we ended up at a tourist hot spot where there was a naturally formed rock slide in a mountain stream and a nice swimming hole at the bottom of it. Not particularly our seen, but we were there so we decided to press on, upstream for a ways. Then after hiking beyond what seemed to be a well worn trail we came across a perfect little section of the mountain stream. Just enough for Milla to wander about on her own and explore. We splashed about, made little rock towers, played in the mud, you know, outdoor stuff.

YoungDoo offered up the 5dIII for the day which was a lot of fun and left me with this shot that I knew would make a lovely desktop wallpaper image. There are two versions, one I stepped in a bit closer for because I liked all the little details there in the tower or rocks. More often than not these days I frame subjects cautiously when I know it will be used for wallpaper use. Devices are so varied! How does a photographer frame a photograph for BOTH portrait and landscape viewing?

Yeah, welcome to my world. iPhone wallpaper 101. I still have a soft spot for shooting everything horizontally. The cinematic feel is what I connect with so I do my best to either center a subject or make sure there is some way to crop the image for use on a mobile device. So, at any rate, links are below and I hope to see you again sooner than later. Hope all is well with everyone.

Everorange

It’s been nearly 10 years since this photo was taken. Shot on my trusty old 5D which has since been stolen out of the back of my car. I was digging through old photos for a project I have been trying to finish for something like two years now I think. The kind of project that I can never quite settle on the final answer for anything, so it hovers around above me when I decide to feel anxious about unfinished projects and ideas.

I don’t think I have shared it here before but it’s been so long now, who knows. In my digging around the archives I was thankful Apples Aperture still opens up (I think there’s a hack to keep it working in Catalina by the way.)

It was taken while traveling by car out west with YoungDoo in 2010. Sitting there in the huge library of images from that trip without a star or edit to its name. All it needed was a bit of contrast and it burst into life. This little forgotten piece of a golden Utah sunset waited all this time to be shared. I’m happy to bring these dusty pixels back to life and share something “new”. Enjoy!

(P.S – iPad link is for all mobile devices.)

Two AM

When I wake up at 2am I get to hear traffic slowly crawl into an audible hum, distant in the city streets. Nothing can get my mind back to rest. Time goes from late to early as morning birds start asking for the sun. Weary eyes, cold feathers, gentle calls. Giving up I leave for work, an early job today. Driving feels automatic, as if the road is a river simply pulling me along in its current. Starbucks preps for its first few customers. Grey hair and smoking old pickup trucks wait in the lot outside.

I can’t tell if I’m awake, I can assume consciousness but I’m not sure I can embody it this morning. At least my vocabulary seems in check. Writing feels as natural as my cautiously weary body feels tired and this conference room is still empty enough to focus for a few short minutes.

Sharing to share, side loading a post into an otherwise frustrating start to the day, wait. Theres an echo in here, a few words common and evergreen; enjoy the photo, from Korea long ago, links below, see you again soon?

(P.S – iPad link is for all mobile devices.)

Voigtlander Glass

Someone reached out to me via a comment on my last post and the more I considered it, the more I thought it would be best to take a quick dive into my camera and lens choices, something that I think deserves more than a “because its cool and takes nice photos” kind of a reply. So, here’s an off the cuff, little bit rambling answer to the following. I’m starting to wonder if I should just jump in and start posting from time to time even if I don’t spend time editing it to some perceived notion of “good enough to post”.

“John, I’ve always enjoyed following your work over the years. Curious, what attracts you to the Voigtlander lens? Any particular reason?” – Will Musgrove

Thanks Will! Why Voigtlander? Good question, one I have thought a long time about in the absence of a digital camera and one that digs way back into my personal history with photography. I’ll start by saying my ideal, daydream camera setup would be a Leica M10 and a Leica M7 with one nice 50mm lens and one nice 35mm lens but, well, that would be a significant loan that I can’t justify. Leica makes a fantastic product but with a price that is wholly unrealistic for most. I have used SLRs for over 20 years now starting with film then moving to digital with the Canon 10D (or was it the 20D?) ages ago but it was a Canon film rangefinder that really shook things up for me years back.

I loved shooting with a rangefinder, the size, focusing, simplicity, all of it. It broke down photography to my favorite aspects, composition and get-out-of-the-way bare bones exposure choices. Because of the cost of Leica digitals I never even considered a digital rangefinder but have often daydreamed of shifting to shooting only film, selling off every piece of camera gear I could, and buying a nice Leica M7 to shoot everything with. Yet this would make 50ft and its desktop/wallpaper centric self much harder to manage.

For a good long while I shot with a Voigtlander Bessa Rangefinder paired with a Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 SC Lens and loved it. I sold it to my brother at some point to get some other gear but always manage to miss having it around. My time with that camera introduced me to the companies products and left a lasting impression because it presented me with a truly solid performance and build quality while maintaining a moderately affordable price range compared to what Leica had to offer.

While I had that body I had experimented with a few other lenses of theirs that I had borrowed from a friend while in Korea. An ultra wide and a super fast 50mm lens, but there was one of their lenses in particular that has long had my attention, their 35mm f/1.2 which is now in its second generation. I have always loved 35mm lenses and the way they allow me to either move in tight for detail or back up a bit and tell a story. Pair this with my long lasting love affair with fast glass and here we are, a sweet spot.

I can’t count the amount of times I have put that lens into the search field of Flickr and drooled over the results others have gotten with it both on film and digital camera bodies but for some reason I have never taken the plunge and picked one up, mostly because the camera bodies I have had around were never too friendly to Leica mount lenses. The prospects of this started to change with the smaller bodied yet full frame Sony cameras which I don’t particularly care for as far as their handling goes but I have started to overlook this once I realized that its abilities outweigh those concerns.

I started looking into it and realized that I could pick up an A7 II in great shape for under $1000 which has a solid resolution and feature set that I would be more than happy with and from the reading I have done, handles Leica mount lenses quite well with a good adapter on hand. The Voigtlander 40mm f/1.2 lens came to my attention when I noticed they had a Sony mount version of it available. Based on what I know that 40mm holds a similar performance and style to the 35mm and after doing some digging it does indeed have a similar feeling to the way it renders images. I lean toward to wanting the 35 in a leica mount with adapter because I could see myself pickup up an old M2 or M4 one day in the future and could easily put the lens to use there as well, not to mention, I prefer that tiny bit of extra width in my frame.

This is where your question will actually get an answer. I like the Voigtlander lenses in this speedy prime glass range because I love the way they render color, bokeh, vignetting, all of it. It suits my approach to photography well by allowing me a lot of flexibility but also gives me a familiar depth and loads of personality and that is a key word for me. The personality of a lens is something I feel closely in tune with. The texture of how a lens renders its background and in some cases even its perceived imperfections are ok in my book. I shot with my 35mm f/1.4L Canon for years and years because of exactly this. It held my catalogue of images together aesthetically and added to the story and mythology of Fifty Foot Shadows through the years.

At this projects peak back before the big social media pivot of the web I would find others online comparing other photographers work to my own or even mistaking the work of others for mine which had a similar feeling because of that consistency and that has always been intentional. So in that regard, as much fun as it is to have and shoot with a bunch of different gear and lenses, I have always come back to familiar focal lengths and tried to hold true to that classic style within these pages and I believe this Voigtlander lens will continue that tradition handily.

Paired with a smallish camera hiding a full frame sensor I hope for it to give me as close to my ideal as possible while shooting from day to day; a camera thats small enough to not get in my way but deliver results encompassing my aesthetic standards I have for digital shooting. Something I came close to with the fujifilm line but never quite fully connected with through the years of using it, but thats a discussion for another day. So, unless I end up being off base on its performance, it’s the set up I hope to find myself in possession of once I manage to find a way to make that happen.

That was fun. Anyone else have any questions?

State Of Things at 50ft HQ

Hi! It has been long enough at this point to warrant a little check in, how has John been doing? post. It’s something I try to avoid because posts like these feel like big excuses to as why nothing else has made its way across these pages in so long.

Well, first of all, lately my 50ft energy has lived on in slow motion via, old school, stamp sticking, IRL mail in the 50ft Print Club which is alive and well despite perpetually being a couple of weeks behind sending out each print. I am on the 32nd print at this point in the series and thats so hard for me to believe. It has been such a joy to sign and send these out to points all around the world each month.

Something dawned on me recently though, outside of my initial launch two and a half years ago I have done zero promotion for the series, well nothing outside the occasional mention on instagram or the little link there on the home page of the site so I wanted to call it out here today. I suppose I didn’t want to feel like I was burdening visitors. It’s true, I am not a particularly good salesman.

When I started up the Print Club idea I chose a $7 a month entry point for the cost because thats what it took to break even and bring in enough profit each month to put toward the prints, envelopes, and stamps then have enough left to also cover hosting and any odd domain renewal that may come to pass. As time went on I decided to quietly reduce the cost of the series to $5 a month for new sign ups because I felt it wouldn’t hurt too much on the back end and may give a few new people the opportunity to sign up for a while and get some snail mail from yours truly every now and then.

The new lower cost still stands and I would be humbled and thankful to see a few new faces come to the fold. Members have come and gone through the past couple of years but the total base has continued to hold steady enough to keep the series alive. I currently have print overruns starting to turn into a formidable little tower of prints on a shelf and I am always wishing they had a good home to go to so any new subscribers will also get as many back log prints as I can comfortably fit into the envelope the first month to get caught up.

As for digital perks, I will admit I have been dragging my feet but there is a nice solid collection of HD copies of wallpapers in the Gumroad user library ready and willing to be snatched up and I still have a slowly building collection of cropped and ready images that I am planning on releasing as a pack that will also be added as soon as I manage to get that finished up.

Let’s move onto the future. I have a few things weighing on my mind when it comes to my personal creative projects. First photography, why many of you keep checking back after all these years. Its sad to say but I don’t have a day to day digital camera outside of my iPhone and have not had one for quite a while. My trusty Fuji X-Pro up and died a long while back and I have not had an opportunity to replace it. My wife, YoungDoo has a Canon 5DII and III in her work kit but I often don’t want to keep it out of her reach because she actively uses the rig for work projects day to day. I do carry various film cameras with me and have a number of exposed rolls lined up but I am really missing having a fully functioning digital camera around.

As you could imagine, it has had a big impact on 50ft and how often I have new images to share among these pages. I am slowly making my way through back catalogue images from trips but I really miss capturing little bits of life and objects to share here.

I have considered running some kind of crowd funding to raise the $2k I need to jump back in with what I would like to settle into next, a Sony a7II paired with a Voigtlander 35mm or 40mm f/1.2). I just cant bring myself to do it. I could use books or prints or memberships or something as rewards for helping but the production cost of those items would raise the goal by quite a bit and I have this senseless anxiousness that is afraid to fail so I simply wait until life blesses me with an opportunity to jump back in.

So, for now, I will continue to pull from my archives and borrow the 5DIII on occasion (which I did recently and have something new to put up!).

Second, my humble music project. I lean on making music more and more since the death of my camera. Some of you may remember I released an album a couple of years back digitally and on cassette and I really enjoyed putting it together. While that was more a loose, random collection of tracks assembled for the fun of releasing some music, I have a new album that has been more or less finished for about a year now that I am genuinely proud of and am ready to jump in and release.

It has a short story paired with it and I am working on selling the album digitally and also paired with a small zine sized book containing photos and the story. It has been through a dozen or so revisions but I am hoping to finally jump in and get the thing out into he wild. I am also tossing around the idea of taking group buy style orders for a lathe cut vinyl version but we’ll see how that pans out, short run vinyl is maddeningly expensive. My goal is to get this released in the fall and by mentioning it here I hope to feel a little more permanence to the idea and get it done.

Also in music, I have a new 50ft Radio mix finished, it has been for a couple of months now but I need time to assemble it and get it out to you guys on the podcast feed.

Which brings me to frustrating little technical issues. The unlisted podcast feed does work but from time to time my Droplr hosted files will stop wanting to allow direct downloads so I do my best to keep up fixing them so they can all be downloaded to a podcast app for enjoyment. Then there is the images on the site here, I have had a number of reports that images are not loading, it seems to work for many but not all and it’s most certainly due to security certificates but I have not had a good amount of time to attend to it and figure out where the problem lies. Thanks for the patience there!

While this custom theme of mine has had some seriously long legs and is as dead simple as it could manage to be, I am starting to wonder if it’s time to refresh it to get it fully compatible with the latest versions of wordpress and possibly refresh the look. There are some glaring holes in its logic like my never ending archive button but all in all I’d say the design has aged well!
SO, as time moves on and hopefully I start to see a little extra free time to put into personal projects again (September was one of the busiest work months I have had in ages) you should start seeing a few new things around here again.

I don’t think I need to go into how busy life continues to be while managing an event production department and doing my best to be a good dad for my 3 year old, Milla. Seems not really the point of writing today. For those who have left heartwarming comments and sent emails while things have been slow, thank you, truly, from the bottom of my heart. It has meant the world to me to see that this site has had a positive impact on the world in its own little ways and I cant wait to get back to posting regularly again.

Even in this weird moment in technology where tiny blurbs of information and headlines rule the short attention span yet high expectation landscape, I think there is plenty of room for slow paced personal websites and blogs to hang out like wallflowers in the distance. Speaking of which, does anyone have one i should be following along with in my RSS feed?

See you soon.

XO

-John

Grotta

I set off to walk from Reykjavik all the way out a peninsula one afternoon as a means to both make my way to a lighthouse I noticed on a map that morning, and as an excuse to traverse through neighborhoods and to see what local spots I may come across along the way. I stumbled into a grocery store just as I was regretting not bringing more water along for the walk and loaded up on some snacks and a couple of pre-made sandwiches.

I love making time for un-guided walked like this while traveling. I left on foot from my hostel without much of a map, only knowing that If I continued to walk I would eventually hit an ocean, and a vague sense of the shape of this part of the city and its surrounding area. The last mile or so of my walk ended up being down a walkway along the coast which lead me to the lighthouse hiding quietly at the end of fields and sparse local businesses.

After eating my sandwiches and having a drink, I considered flagging a car down and asking for a ride back into the city but ended up taking a brisk walk back along the waters edge as the sun slowly waned in the distance instead. There was a thoroughness to the sense of calm I felt on the second leg of that walk that ended up overshadowing almost everything else on the trip. Let’s see if I can describe the feeling.

Imagine a sense of confidence, not of arrogance or entitlement, but a mental space free of fear or doubt. Then add in a dash of loneliness, not enough to feel alone, but enough to invoke longing and understanding that this space you are in is yours and yours alone and it is beautiful and whole. To top off this feeling, add an acute sense of mindfulness, there is no past and no future in this space, only this view, this heartbeat, a cold breeze. Fill it with some of your favorite music and wrap it all up with a gentle smirk of joy and you are in my shoes at that moment.

I also had a camera along in hand, and snapped a few photos of my walk to maybe share one day down the line and that day is today. Modest, blue, in between day and night, the tide is low and time stands still. What will you do with this moment?

(P.S – iPad link is for all mobile devices.)

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

——

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