French Garden Walk and House Tours

New StillWalks – I have just completed a new StillWalk, for Summer, of my parents garden in France, “Garden Walk, France”. It is a beautiful garden and the sounds of the birds and bees, the church bells and the peace take me straight back there.

There is also a StillWalk house tour produced to help sell the house. Anyone interested should check it out and if you know of anyone who may be interested, please pass this on.

French House

French House

Busy Bees

Busy Bees

The Shard and Other London Fragments

Looking at a recent post about London on a blog I follow, I was reminded by a photo showing the Shard in the distance, of a visit to London I made when that structure was still being built.

Half the tube stations were out of action in preparation for the 2012 Olympics but the StillWalk I produced from the photos and sound recording I did on the day does not reflect my frustration with this. Watch the video below.

StillWalks – London Tate Walk from Alastair Duncan on Vimeo.

My StillWalks often use the natural environment as the location, but not always. StillWalks are primarily about relaxation and stress relief but they are also about seeing and hearing all that is around us and I am as interested in the sounds of the city as those of the countryside.

Here is one of the images from that walk.

London

Football in the Park

They say smell is one of the best memory triggers. Sound, I would say, is another.

Whilst walking through our local park on Saturday morning, the local school football team had a match on. I don’t know who they were playing but the scene took me back to my own early years when I too played football on the school team. My memory tells me I didn’t do much else for a while – either football or riding my bicycle. Happy memories 🙂

Football in the Park

StillWalks Production Kit and a Skylark’s Spectral Display

Last week’s production day on Ryer’s Down on the Gower in South Wales was a challenge. The weather suggests that the StillWalk to be produced will be “A Misty Gower Walk”. Fortunately, rain covers were not needed for the cameras but I was glad to have the waterproof case for the recorder.

I had all the sound and photography kit with me and alternated between them throughout the walk. This still meant that, for a relatively short walk, I was out recording and taking photos for 6.5 hours.

Kitted up and loaded down

Kitted up and loaded down

The kit includes:

  • Canon 550D x 2 (Canon)
  • Canon 18-55mm lens with stabilization
  • Canon 70-300mm lens with stabilization
  • Monopod (Manfrotto)
  • Fostex FR-2LE field recorder with Portabrace cover (Fostex, Portabrace)
  • Rode NTG-3 shotgun microphone (RODE)
  • Rode Blimp windshield and suspension grip
  • Edirol R-09 compact digital recorder (as back up) (Edirol R-09)
  • AKG K271 MkII headphones (AKG)

All this plus a small collapsible stool (essential piece of kit), food, water, spare batteries, filters, etc. all in a great Lowepro kit bag, meant I was pretty weighed down. The trick is to be patient, take your time and not try to fit too much into the day. The recce walks are essential to ensure this can be achieved.

The mist never lifted as I had hoped it would, and the day was not as peaceful as on the previous recce visit when the Skylarks sang for us and traffic was non existent. Instead, normal farm life was ever present with the sound of tractors and other farm equipment in the distance. The Larks, however, sang through it all and their sound was as beautiful as ever.

Virtual Walks – I hope, with StillWalks, to provide realistic virtual walks. We don’t always want to wait until a beautiful Spring day to go for a walk and sometimes the sights and sounds around us are not what we would wish. However, these things don’t stop us, and wherever or whenever we decide to go for a walk, there are always a multitude of fascinating things to see and hear. Producing StillWalks helps me to recognize and focus on these things and enjoy the surroundings wherever I may be. I hope that they do this for you as well.

Technical Problems – During the Ryer’s Down production day I came up with a problem on the Fostex recorder and had to temporarily revert to the Edirol. I can only guess that the problem was electrical interference of some sort. The problem is illustrated in the sound clip and image below. I tried switching my phone to airplane mode and then off altogether but to no avail. I checked all my settings in case I had inadvertently knocked something but found everything as it should be.

interference1

interference1

Fortunately, I was able to use the Edirol instead – it’s not as good but very useful as a back up recorder. The problem, however, was temporary as, when I tried the Fostex again about 15 minutes later and another 100 yards further on, there was no problem at all and I was able to continue using it for the rest of the day.

Spectral Display – When viewing the sound files afterwards I find the spectral display a valuable element in Adobe Audition when it comes to identifying various aspects of the sounds I record. The image above shows the pattern created by the sound of what I guessed was electrical interference – the bright, gentle curve of the sound at the higher frequency is inaudible to the human ear but the broader curve downwards into the lower frequencies and then up again is easily seen and heard.

Skylark Song – The image below shows the pattern revealed through spectral display in Audition by a Skylark – and, of course, you must listen to the 10 second clip to which the image relates – enjoy 🙂

Ryers Down Lark

Ryers Down Lark Spectral Display

More to come in the future about both the production and post-production element of StillWalks.