Environmental Range

The walks I have been taking each morning recently, include a range of environments – urban, coniferous forest, deciduous woods and open farm land.

Although I prefer the natural woodland environments on these walks, I also enjoy the faster, more even pace of walking through the (semi) urban area. Even in the woods there is still the background sound of traffic on the motorway – except at one point along the footpath where the sound from the motorway (see last photo) almost completely disappears and there is only the sound of individual vehicles occasionally passing on the road below.

The sounds as well as the plants and animals of these places are many and varied. The field recording I have posted below and in previous posts this week illustrate something of that variety.

There is an intrusion into the sound clip below. I was recording on my Edirol R09 and had forgotten to switch off my phone! So there is another element of the urban environment unintentionally included.

landscape sunrise

forest floor



Fforest Birds 4 and Traffic


Trolley Cemetery and a New View of Drawing

Decaying with time, these old trolleys create a strange cemetery in the mouth of the River Tawe, Swansea.

Those that already follow this blog will know that there is more to come throughout this week to tell the story of a recent walk in the docks/marina area of Swansea.

The walk was the second Mission Gallery Walk and Draw with Sarah Abbott that I have taken part in. On this occasion, while I did a little sketching, most of my drawing was with my DSLR camera, iPhone and small edirol sound recorder.

Having read that the winner of the Jerwood Drawing Prize this year was sound artist  Alison Carlier, I felt that my description of drawing with my camera and sound recorder while out on pre-production recce walks for StillWalks videos, is perfectly valid.

With The Big Draw continuing throughout this month, perhaps it is an appropriate time to consider and enjoy the broadening definition of drawing.

trolleys in sand

trolley in sand

Old fence section

trolley in sand

Sights and Sounds at Llys Nini

The sights and sounds of my walk around the Llys Nini woodland last week illustrate the wetness of the weather we have had this winter.

I had my camera with me, my Edirol RO9 recorder and my iPhone but was frustrated that I had not brought my Fostex FR-2LE field recorder and RODE NTG-3 shot gun mic. It would have been an advantage considering the proximity of the M4 motorway. I am pleased to say, however, that the birds sing regardless of conditions and traffic and care not what recording equipment you may use.

Sand, Sea and Wind

On a windy day in Swansea Bay, watching the movements of the top layer of dry sand getting blown across the seaweed and other debris on the beach is as entertaining as watching the sea itself.

The action of waves in the sea can be mesmerising, but so too can the patterns created by the wind on dry sand as it catches the various objects and undulations of the beach. The sculptures created can be fascinating but watching them be created is even more so.

The camera does not see in the same way as the eye but in these images I think there is some advantage to the relatively narrow depth of field. The areas of blur seem to me to emphasise the atmosphere and effect of the conditions at the time. The textures that show through in the areas of sharpness combined with soft foreground / background, feel much more like it physically was than if everything was clean and crisp and static.

I hope the second sound clip from this photo shoot helps to “put you in the picture”. Even my home made wind shield could not handle the strength of the wind on the beach, but I decided that the distortion and break up of the sound was all a part of the character of the scene.

High Winds in Swansea Bay

High Winds in Swansea Bay

High Winds in Swansea Bay

You can use the new Donate button below to help StillWalks. Pay how much you want and receive a high quality download of this week’s featured StillWalks video – “Moss Wood Walk” which is from Gnoll Park in Neath, South wales. Click the image below to watch the video.

Paypal button

Rattling the Leaves – Out and About in the Wind

The effects of the weather can be truly horrendous sometimes, but when it is not so destructive, it can be exhilarating! The high winds in Swansea Bay last week, brought those people out that enjoy that wildness, at least while it is doing no harm.

Perhaps the fact that it was windy but not raining made it enjoyable not just for the humans but also for the dogs which are allowed onto the beach at this time of year. I was there as well of course, taking the photos I am posting this week and also doing a bit of sound recording.

I only had my small Edirol RO9 recorder with me which meant the strength of the wind was a bit of a problem. However, with the use of my home made foam wind shield and the gain not to high, I was able to get a couple of clips that help to bring some extra atmosphere to the photos.

The first clip was taken on the promenade near the plant with the large leaves featured in the first photo. It is the sound of the leaves “rattling” against each other that can be heard, not the sound of rain!

High Winds in Swansea Bay

High Winds in Swansea Bay

High Winds in Swansea Bay

High Winds in Swansea Bay

You can use the new Donate button below to help StillWalks. Pay how much you want and receive a high quality download of this week’s featured StillWalks video – “Moss Wood Walk” which is from Gnoll Park in Neath, South wales. Click the image below to watch the video.

Paypal button

Seasonal Shift

I know I am skipping a season by posting these photos now, but they are from a completed StillWalk of the same forest in Fforest, Carmarthenshire, Wales. It is a prompt to myself to produce a new video of the same place this Autumn.

Unlike the Fforest walk I am producing from recordings and photography on my iPhone (see this past week’s posts), “Forest Walk – Winter” is  a StillWalks video properly produced albeit with my Edirol RO9 recorder rather than the Fostex FR-2LE and the RODE NTG3 Shotgun mic I normally use these days.

Forest Walk 1

Forest Walk 2

Forest Walk 3


Going Pipistrelle Batty at the Weekend

Last Friday night was a first for me – I found myself without a torch in our local park hunting for bats. It didn’t occur to me to take a torch but fortunately there were plenty of other people there to whom it had occurred and a great time was had by all.

Click here to listen on the blog to the sound of Common Pipistrelle bats in Coedbach Park last Friday night or here on SoundCloud.

Steve Lucas, Welsh Bat Officer with the Bat Conservation Trust gave a fascinating talk/slideshow about the various species of bats and their habitats until it got dark. Then we ventured out and were given bat detectors to use in the woods and along the hedgerows. We heard three different types of bat in Coedbach Park – Common and Soprano Pipistrelles and a Whiskered bat.

Seeing with Sound – The bat detectors respond to the very high frequencies bats use as their “sonar device” to detect and catch insects and “see” their surroundings – bats, however, are not blind. The frequency range of a Pipistrelle bat is around 45Khz (kilohertz). The range of the RODE NTG-3 shotgun mic I use for StillWalks recording (see the last blog entry) has a range that goes up to 20Khz and so has no chance of picking up the sound of bats!

The sound file above is a recording of the output of the bat detectors we were using made on my Edirol RO9 recorder – the hiss is mostly from the bat detectors but the sound patterns of the bats are quite clear. Adults and children alike were excited and fascinated to hear the bats at first hand rather than on a TV programme and I, for one, am looking forward to the next time.