Dragonflies and Damselflies

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Yesterday I went on a Dragonfly and Damselfly hunt organised by Swansea’s Countryside Connections Team at Three Crosses on the Gower. Unfortunately I missed the workshop in the morning and so I am not in a position to identify the particular make and model of those we saw. Perhaps others on the walk can do that for me as comments.

These creatures were incredibly difficult to photograph as they rarely stayed still for more than a split second, if that! This may be partly due to the fact that there were a number of people there as part of the group (proving the success of these events).

I did the best I could and got a range of shots at both of two sites which were new to me and which I will be visiting again for a walk and exploration for StillWalks. Today, however, I’ll concentrate on the Dragonflies.

Please click on the images to enlarge. These and others are available on the StillWalks Photography website.

Three Cliffs Bay – Step 7, End of the Series

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All photos are available for sale on the StillWalks Photography website.

The title says it all – it’s the end of this series of photos and while these images are not from Three Cliffs Bay itself, they are from the last part of my walk from Parc-Le-Breos House down to the bay, up to Pennard castle and back through the woods.

The last photo hints at the crossing of a footbridge and, indeed, this footbridge leads back into Park Mill, the village just below Parc-Le-Breos.

Buddleia Woodland Path Woodland Stream River Reflections

Three Cliffs Bay – Step 1, Stepping Stones

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This week I am going to be posting a range of photos from a recent walk at Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales.

The photos are not for a StillWalk video in that the photos are not necessarily in sequence but feature different aspects of the area such as those in todays post featuring the stepping stones across the river in the bay.

Other features over the next seven days will be people and the beach, patterns and rocks, Pennard Castle, footpaths, views and finally woodland.

All photos are available for sale on the StillWalks Photography website.

Stepping Stones Stepping Stones Stepping Stones Stepping Stones

Along the Walk – Three Cliffs Bay

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In planning the first StillWalks Sights and Sounds Tag Along Walk (see yesterday’s post), I did not go right down to Three Cliffs Bay. This is certainly an option for a Tag Along Walk but when I was there, the sun was way too hot and so I stopped at an excellent viewing point just off the footpath above the bay.

It is a fantastic place and must be popular at the height of the season but I don’t think any of the Gower beaches ever get really crowded.

Dates and times – If anyone is interested in doing one of the Tag Along Walks, I suggest you keep an eye on the StillWalks website for dates and times. These should be announced next week and numbers are restricted. If you are interested, please contact StillWalks so that we can contact you as and when walks are being organised and places become available.

Click on the photos to enlarge. More are available on the StillWalks Photography website at PhotoShelter (some day I will get the the two sites integrated).

Three Cliffs Bay, Gower

Three Cliffs Bay, Gower

Pennard Castle, Gower

Pennard Castle, Gower

Stepping stones at Three Cliffs Bay, Gower

Contemplating Crossing, Three Cliffs Bay, Gower

Quality Walks

Misty Walk is a new stillWalk which was actually produced at the end of last winter. There are several more StillWalks in the pipeline but it has proved difficult this last year to complete the post production on these. This is largely because of the project work I have been doing – see Projects.

I have uploaded two versions of the Misty Walk to the Winter Walks page. Both are high quality but one is in HD (720p) and the other is small scale at 480 x 270 pixels. (see also below).

StillWalks should be viewed, if possible in full screen mode and these videos will show the difference between the two versions. The HD button is in the top right of the first video and the full screen button is on the bottom right of each video.

It was supposed to be a dry, sunny day for this production but it turned out otherwise! This misty walk is on Ryer’s down on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales and was very enjoyable and atmospheric (small scale). Walk location

Berry Woods

Last week I visited Berry Woods on the Gower. The purpose of the visit was to explore the the area to be used as the production location for Knelston Primary School and the Sights and Sounds of the Countryside project (mentioned in a previous post) which is due to start next month.

I am really looking forward to going out with the children and the other project workers, Emily Hinshelwood and Julie Brunskill, to investigate the landscape in detail.

Here are some pics from my visit to the woods.

En route to Berry Woods

En route to Berry Woods

Berry Woods

Moss in Berry Woods

Berry Woods

Berry Woods

Berry Woods

Berry Woods

On the way back from Berry Woods

A friendly face near Berry Woods

Heading back from Berry Woods

Heading back from Berry Woods

Buzzard

I spotted four of these Buzzards while around Berry Woods

 

logos

Mumbles Promenade and Street Photography

Some people get nervous, uncomfortable, even angry when they see a photographer taking shots in the street or other busy public place. However, as I walked along Mumbles Promenade at the start of the Gower Peninsula the other day, I not only had my camera but also my sound kit with its “dead cat” furry cover on the microphone windshield. It’s the dogs that take exception to this, wondering no doubt, what strange creature it is.

People tend to be more interested and wonder what programme I am making and smile or ask if I am from the BBC. I am not sure that I will be able to get a StillWalk from this impromptu stroll along the promenade but if I need to do a full production day there, I’ll make sure I have the StillWalks logo printed on my T-shirt first.

RODE Blimp Windshield

The interest of dogs in the “Dead Cat” is understandable!

And here on the blog is some of the sound recorded or you can hear these and others on SoundCloud.

Mumbles Promenade-1

Mumbles Promenade-3

Mumbles Promenade and Oystermouth Castle

Mumbles Promenade - the feet have it!

Mumbles Promenade – a popular place for joggers!

Mumbles Promenade

Mumbles Promenade – a popular place for children

Mumbles Promenade

Mumbles Promenade – a popular place for cyclists!

Mumbles Promenade

Mumbles Promenade – a popular place for walking

Mumbles Promenade

Mumbles Promenade – a popular place for walking

View from the Top

Last Sunday was a beautiful day here in South Wales which encouraged me to take a walk up Graig Fawr. The views over the surrounding countryside are uplifting . . . when the sun is out. Looking west you can see over to Carmarthenshire and looking south the view takes in the Loughor Estuary and the Gower Peninsula.

The wind was blowing and the Skylarks were singing and I needed to get to the top. Here are a few of the photos I took and also a sound clip of those Larks in the wind.

View from the Top

View from the Top

Loughor Estuary and the Gower

View from the Top 1Loughor Estuary and the Gower

Foxgloves and the Gower

Foxgloves and the Gower

You can hear those Skylarks in the wind here or you can play the clip below if you are already on the blog.

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.