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.)

Time Clicks By

I started to write the following several months ago late last year over a year ago while in Korea and I never spent the time to edit and post it so I’m here to remedy that. I have since added quite a bit to the original passage and have been editing it off and on for several months over a year. Upon reading it again I fear I come across as a little self indulgent, I mean, how many adjectives and metaphors do I need to contemplate time and passion anyway? This and it jumps around a bit thematically, but hey, this is my space to connect with others and commiserate so lets dig into being a creative without time to be creative:

Time clicks by, marches forward, tip toes along, sprints ahead, whatever it does, it’s doing it. I have only been here in Korea for a few short days out of the three weeks I have available here but I already feel it slipping by so quickly. Every moment of peace in the breeze or rush behind a camera as I find something to shoot leaves me wanting to pause and hold on as long as possible to the feeling of untainted joy. While traveling away from home I have been seeking out moments of stillness to take advantage of my mental freedom.

Impossibly simple things have become immense in scope and sighs of peaceful contemplation feel endless and satisfying. For instance, I caught myself spending time staring out the window of YoungDoo’s old room in her parents home considering nothing more than light hitting the drapes in just such a way. Another day I found myself watching a rotary fan they bought to help with the late summer heat slowly survey the room.

It felt so good to not worry about life’s constants. Being able to stare at a fan turning its head for a few solitary minutes without a lingering worry that there is something else that needs my attention is true bliss. Turns out, heaven is the ability to watch a fan blade spinning round and round with a clear mind to consider its spinning. Odd to imagine that an oscillating fan is just what I needed in that moment. I have started to embrace how good it feels to focus on one single thing in the present moment. It clears my mind and brings me peace, even if just for a few minutes.

I remember younger moments in my life when I would recognize the act of blinking or breathing to the point where I thought I may never be able to live another second without being acutely aware of such innate, automatic details of being alive. Thinking about it now I realize it was a sort of accidental meditation, something that happened intuitively when I was younger but have come to realize often escapes my daily routine now that I am older. Getting lost in a single thought or idea, imaginary or otherwise, is an essential part of learning how to be aware of our surroundings and I think it’s important to hold onto it as long as we can.

For some reason, as adults, we pretend to have answers for all of the “whys” that we asked when we were children. We let ourselves get trapped in the belief that we know anything at all when in fact we as individuals know very little and in our wise old walk of arrogance we loose sight of the moon in the night sky. Sometimes it’s important to allow the full breadth of the world humble us and I often find myself forgetting to find time in my mind to embrace this.

I’m not trying to transcend to a place of spiritual awakening or anything so dramatic. I just want to be able to find a way to relax and become free in any given moment again, not just while traveling away from the clear and present stress of work and home. I want to get lost in the rhythm of my own breath again, a skill that I have let slip through my fingers unknowingly. What is the secret to time and understanding its erratic language?

The philosophy of time is one of my oldest curiosities. Time is a constant itch, nagging with every perceived regret or lost opportunity. It eludes me. Connecting with the present moment is precious but fleeting. It feels this way because of desire, fear, anxiousness, insecurity. Want always gets in the way of falling deeply into any moment. Want being the collected embodiment of modern living; What just happened, what does person think about it, and how does my opinion differ, will this thing make me happy, for how long? With this deeply embedded need to know and want, how to turn the bliss of one peaceful moment into a life of meaning and content is something I am increasingly trying to understand, at least on a manageable level.

I wish I had the answer to share with all of you but I don’t think there is one answer to the question of time. We all need to find our own definition by looking at its weight and value in our own individual lives through personal reflection. Could this be one of the keys to happiness? I think that coming to terms with time passing and the change it stoically drags along in tow is a monumental step toward allowing ourselves to embrace happiness in a pure form, free from the baggage of worry, regret, anticipation, jealousy… Come to think of it, I think what I am trying to describe here in all this esoteric rambling, is the importance of meditation.

I feel like by embracing time as a kind of energy, as sustenance, as something that matters, I am able to respect the insurmountable responsibility it shoulders day to day. I imagine time wishes it could be swift and lighthearted but carrying the burdens of all life and infinite possibility must be a daunting and thankless job. Those who don’t consider the effects of time enough to respect it are most likely too engrossed in the minutiae of life to see the forest through the trees.

This is why I love photography, not as a distraction or even a form of art a lot of the time, but as a way to collect these elongated moments of meditation and file them away to either rediscover later in life or as a means to share with others and collectively marvel at details buried all around us. I love it as a way to somewhat permanently attempt to, with deft hand, capture the kind of poetic light which may otherwise escape from my life unnoticed and unappreciated. At last to the best of my ability. Photography is my meditation, my ode to time.

Unfortunately I have been carrying a sort of writers block lately that I am trying to shake. I catch myself in a loop of discovering then loosing moments of genuine creativity. It’s a muscle that needs to be exercised and because it is so tightly linked with my sense of personal happiness I find myself waking up to days feeling as though a part of me is missing. Even when I carry a camera by my side; I spot moments I want to capture yet struggle to connect with the light in the same way I once did. I miss the raw enthusiasm that I felt during a period of my life when all I had was time to consider light and explore the nuance of my surroundings. This makes me wonder though, where then is the passion I so often assume I am full of? Where is that endless well of creative poetry when I need it?

My creative pendulum doesn’t swing indefinitely in the direction of prolific inspiration. The landscape of my creative output has had its fair share of flatlined tracts of time. This has gotten to the point in the past couple of years where it has significantly effected my mood. There are days when I feel lopsided and unable to focus on work or life at home and I seem distant, or even sick, to friends and family. I feel an emotional void when I don’t have time to create or focus closely on creating. This could be through writing, taking photographs, exploring a new place, making or listening to music, reading, or even simply sitting down in silence for a time. When I don’t find time to create I feel exhausted, drained physically and emotionally and it effects my life in negative ways.

For years I have talked about the passion, drive, and joy that photography brings to me. Yet the more time that passes the more I understand that passion is not innate, it is earned and nurtured with time and experience. While a spark of inspiration may eventually lead to true passion, patience and dedication is the real key. Passion is a mental space where the past, present, and future all collide and as with creativity, it needs to be fed to stay alive. So recently I have been using the past specifically as a means to feed my passion and creativity. I have started to dig through old film photographs and consider who I was and the emotional state that lead me to connect to different points of view.

Combing through books of old photos shot with film cameras pulls me right back into the emotive center of different parts of my life and helps me understand how my emotional wellbeing has effected my creative output through the years. My state of mind has long dictated the way I view the world behind a camera. Passion grew from a desire to capture what I was feeling and then nurtured by spending time exploring the ways film photography complimented my point of view.

While poking around in the past there are some memories that cut deeper than others. Some periods of life that I look back on and wonder how I let myself get in that particular position. Memories that linger somewhere between regret and acceptance. There was a time when I let life lead me wherever it seemed to want me to go. Decisions were generally more passive and because I chose to drift along this way I would find myself totally lost. These haunting periods lead me to learn things that I would have never learned otherwise and I am thankful for that at least. I did take initiative enough to transform this feeling into action and took a metaphorical “lost” and turned it outward by getting physically lost as well by traveling a lot more often.

In being this way for so long I started to embrace the feeling and over time the idea of being lost became something of a mantra in my life. I started to feel like the only time I felt truly happy was when I was creative and my creative spirit seemed interlinked with possibly misguided notion so I continued to take chances and follow my intuition almost to a fault. I discovered clarity feeling distant from things I found familiar and predictable. The instability of not quite knowing where my next steps would lead me opened my eyes to the simplicity of beautiful things but this was a double edged sword. The mental white noise of unknown places and languages became a creative crutch and I now feel its absence when that emotional knot in my stomach felt as I got into something over my head becomes more of a limited resource.

Even still, I look at these “lost” years as my most intuitive creatively because, in some sense, I felt comforted by my hopelessness, or at least thats what I had convinced myself at the time. It seemed as though that angst somehow drove my desire to create but I now realize it is the physical act of traveling to new places that is at the core of this artistic entanglement and it’s what I miss the most when I am not able to make time for it.

The impact travel has had on my life has been nothing short of immense. The places I have been and the people that shaped these journeys made a permanent mark on my personality and the way I live my life today.

This may be a roundabout way to say, the most important aspect of my style as a photographer is discovery, so seeking out inspiration without traveling as much has been a substantial hurdle for me. It can be endlessly frustrating to want so badly to be creative and not have any way to properly scratch that itch. I find taking an hour or two out of a busy day to “be creative” doesn’t always cut it because it’s not always that easy to switch gears from pragmatic to creatively fluent.

Finding focus during slivers of solitude sandwiched between work and family requires a new kind of connection to my emotional self but maybe, like passion, this will take time and practice to fully understand. Discovering threads of what brings me joy creatively and following them to a productive space is maybe the key I have been searching for all this time.

I still pick up my Hasselblad and feel a desire to create. The weight of the camera gives a tangible memory to graft onto and the sound of its mechanics makes my spirit lift with joy. As I look out into the world through its ground glass focusing screen I see the emotion of light calling to me and the true depth of the world takes shape and yet, what, will, I, capture…

Straight Up

These plants seemed so eager and ready to grow. I noticed them out of the corner of my eye as I was walking through residential areas in Reykjavik trying to not look too suspicious or touristy. I feel like I always need to be somewhat inconspicuous if I’m stopping to take photos around anything involving children like this playground here, I certainly don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, but I couldn’t let these joyful plants get away without being photographed, not with that impressive posture and all.

Wallpaper links are below, enjoy!

Flickr Nostalgia

Read with this in mind, there are exceptions to everything I mention here, I don’t speak from everyones point of view, only my own perspective, I mostly wanted to open up a dialogue and while I started to write the basic ideas mentioned below on Twitter I quickly realized how hard it is to be nuanced on that platform, so without further digression…

I have been thinking lately about how much I have missed the sense of community and open conversation found in the “good old days” of Flickr before modern social media platforms took off and changed everything. Instagram snuck in as more and more cameras attached to mobile phones started to muddy the photography waters and eventually even those shooting on DSLRs and film cameras started to jump ship to “where the audience was”.

But Instagram has one glaring problem for photography enthusiasts in that the whole service is now centered around the concept of personal celebrity rather than community. I realize there are some who somehow manage to jerry-rig the service into something that connects people but it sure is counterintuitive. A hashtag is not a conversation. A hashtag is a well you throw your work into, bottomless voids you hope to get noticed in.

(Heres the bit that my come across a little cynical, I’m not trying to be but I could see how it could be read that way, bear with me here and remember I write this from the perspective of a photography enthusiast, not an average user.) The idea of community in the Instagram age is reduced to posturing and fighting upstream through trends to make your way to the top. It’s fine for casual fun, but feels poisonous to the photographic community as a whole. Central popular figureheads and a hyper casual style of browsing photographs devalue photographic work and lead to an unbalanced, trend forward form of inspiration. Not to mention there are so many ads now it’s hard to tell if what I’m looking at is something a friend posted or if I’m being sold to. Commercial interests reach out with sly hands in attempts to influence groups of users and it’s more or less up to the integrity of those who get offered such opportunities to let in that kind of influence or not.

This is in stark contrast to the groups and forums of Flickr which more often than not, encourage contributors to learn, experiment, collaborate, and grow as photographers. I still think its amazing that my wife, YoungDoo, noticed the potential of this community early on (way back in 2006!) and created a group called “Flickr In Seoul” that drew hundreds of contributors and she helped start meet ups in different areas of Seoul where photographers could meet up and geek out in person and continue the conversations started within the online community. It lead photographers to engage with each other and learn, experiment and grow. She met countless lifelong friends around the world through her time running the group. It was a nurturing community, unlike most that I stumble into on instagram which sort of turns everyone into a wallflower, hiding in the shadows hoping one of the cool kids will notice them.

Instagram was never meant to be what it has become. It worked fine as an intermediary between friends using their iPhones to snap photos and share them with each other but through time it has become nefarious in the photography world because at the heart of its functionality it is a broken platform for connecting with a wider community in meaningful ways. Using it as a pseudo “portfolio” sometimes works as a marketing tool but it has long felt like it has too many shortcomings to be a good place to connect with others in meaningful ways.

Taking a step away from Instagram, there are places to connect with other photographers such as Reddit or other photography centric web forums like photo.net but there is something special about Flickr and the way it combines a place built first and foremost as somewhere to share our photographic work with easily accessible, interest specific forums.

I feel as though comment sections will never be able to replace a well moderated community forum. Hashtags only have algorithms to help propagate quality content and separate it from those trying to abuse a tag for personal gain, searches become messy and wildly inconsistent. I have tried to follow hashtags a couple of times but often end up with a stream of content not often related at all to the topic.

Flickr also uses tags, and has since I can remember, but a key difference is they are usually used more as a utility to share details about any given photograph such as locations or lens, camera, and film details. The substantial feature that sets Flickr apart as a platform for sharing though, is their groups feature. I have always enjoyed surfing through groups to find communities of like minded photographers to share with. There are people who try to abuse groups just as much as there are those who lay down 50 or so hashtags in Instagram, relevant or not to what they were sharing, but groups often have rules and moderators to help guide them along. While no system may be perfect, at least with Flickr there is more of a structure to help facilitate curated sustainability.

Here is an example of how I have used and loved groups in the past. Imagine, you’re interested in a camera, lens, or system, old or new. I hop on Flickr and do a search through groups to find users of nearly every camera type, system or lens you could imagine. Small or sometime large pools of users all happy and eager to share what they have been capturing with their favorite camera or film lay in wait to help share opinions good and bad. I am able to ask questions to users and explore the different types of results people are getting from them by browsing photos in the group. While there are indeed less active users today as there were in the past, it has been a truly fantastic resource for anyone in the market for a new camera or for anyone wanting to connect with other users to talk shop, collaborate, or learn tips from others using similar equipment.

This extends to artistic sub-genres as well. I remember submitting images to tightly curated groups that would focus on collecting images for zines, or groups of specific moods, locations, and concepts. It was great fun finding others who were interested in like minded shooting styles and feed off of each other’s creativity. I often miss this the most, especially when I’m feeling I could use a little inspiration.

All this is not to say Flickr is a perfect platform for everyone with a camera. I find it is best for those who are honestly excited about using their cameras, professional, amateur, or otherwise but I do hope that the platform continues to evolve and possibly grow under its latest management and change of ownership (Yahoo always felt like a weird fit). I hope to see improvements in the app they offer for smartphones and update it for smoother browsing and searching as well as smoother, more encouraged access to in their groups and communities. I would also love to see them bring user profiles back into more of a prevalent position within said browsing as a means to offer users a place to tell some about themselves, link to other places to find them on the web, and to act as a central bouncing off point to discover others with a like minded style, set of interests, or similar gear even.

Today I mostly wanted to write about what I have always admired about Flickr. If you find value in Instagram, as I do, then by all means, keep contributing there. It is great for broad social networking because it has such a large user pool. My goal here today is to encourage more photographers to rediscover what makes Flickr so great and I’m only scratching the surface here really. I am, perhaps, also hopeful that as Instagram gets weirder as Facebook continues to subtly manipulate it, those wanting to engage, share, and collaborate with other photographers will give Flickr a try either again or for the fist time. Why put photographs you are proud of on a platform that will bury them in selfies, jokes, memes, and ads then use every possible ounce of data and information about you to not only manipulate your use of the application but also use it to scrape together enough money in ads to keep the doors open?

One last question, just to toss one more log onto the fire, would you pay for instagram? If you could have a more focused feed, free of ads, with more control over what you see and how you experience the platform with less privacy concerns, would you? I Think I would, but I know that most likely will never happen. It’s just not how Facebook does buisness, their currency is people and the more they can sway to join up or use the service the better it is for their motivations. So why not try an alternative that isn’t so manipulative?

In my opinion, it’s well worth the cost of entry to support, browse, and be part of a community of other photographers without fighting through ads and the noise of everyone throwing wishes in a well.
At any rate, thanks for tuning in. Maybe I just I miss the genuine connections as we shared our craft with each other before passive browsing became so commonplace. from the chatter I have heard here and there online, I’m not the only one with opinions like these and I really hope to see more of you back over there among the conversation as well. See you soon!

Lost And Found

Back to Iceland with a new something for someone out there, you know who you are. Framed as if half way between thoughts and processed to fit the mood. I discovered this little bit of color in the grey and simply had to sneak my camera in and I wondered to myself, “how long has this bike been parked here?” as I lined up the shot. Looking back through photos to share I fell in love with the light blue, brown leather, and yellow highlights in the scene and hopefully you do too, links below to take this little slice of light home with you. Enjoy!

(Notes: “iPad” download is for all mobile devices now, still have not found time to dig in and code a new button. Also, 5k iMac etc. resolutions in member area, which is only $1 a month at its base level now because I want anyone that needs them to have access. Feel free to write if you have any questions or concerns.)

Sneaking In

There is light, and then there is light that transforms a scene into something beyond its humble self. I still do all I can to seek out this kind of light and capture it, but the key to discovering it is time and a willingness to notice and take advantage of it. It can feel illusive and sometimes this sort of light seems to hide from me for what feels like months but then, I look up, and there it is, waiting impatiently for me to find the right angle to fully take advantage of it.

In this case it was one of the rooms of a rented house sitting in the middle of an otherwise empty field in Iceland on the day we were leaving it. The sun was gracious enough that morning to sneak out from under the clouds and bathe one side of the house with a warm glow. I wonder sometimes what makes this kind of light so comforting. Maybe it’s the physical warmth that it brings to mind, or the long contrasty shadows and shifting color temperature. Whatever it is, I still love it after all these years and I’m happy to share this little moment full of it for anyone in need.

Generally Happy

While sitting down with a pastry and hot cup of coffee this afternoon, I took a few minutes to listen to some new music and watch others go about their buisness. Everyone around me seems to be generally happy in their little phone worlds. Half smiles, heads cocked sideways, a table of prayer before eating their salads. Reflecting on life and people watching feels like a luxury and spending time like this to myself often makes me feel guilty because I immediately wonder, what else should I be doing right now that is surely more productive than this?

So I opened up my laptop and decided to pivot into sharing something new here with those of you still checking in on 50ft from time to time. I appreciate you, thanks for stopping by! Unless I’m just not paying enough attention, custom desktops and photography feels a little small in the grand scheme of things online these days. I figure that’s even more of a reason to keep doing what I do around here, carry on and share like I have been for so long. A day or two ago I dug out a few new images and readied them for sharing and I am happy to be here today doing just that.

Pulling from photos taken while in Iceland late last year I am struck by how dim and grey most of my images are from the trip. A thin layer of clouds were always drifting about overhead and the sun often only snuck out on rare occasions when it dipped low enough in the horizon to escape. So here in this moment the clouds won but the landscape there is beautiful no matter the circumstance so I tried to make the best of what I had to work with when given the opportunity to pull the camera out. I still enjoy shooting landscapes like these with a small aperture and a focus on where I stood rather than the grand whatever beyond in an effort to leave that grander for daydreams and whimsy rather than being so on the nose all the time.

At any rate, thats all for today, download links below, I hope to see you again soon!

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