Hoofing It – A blog entry on the hoof

At the weekend I was busy again, this time with StillWalks Equestrian. Earlier this year I was asked if I would be interested in doing the photography for Clydach Riding Club and, what with nothing better to do at the weekends (ha, ha), I ventured on down to their new show field at Ynystawe.

I don’t have the best camera for this kind of work as the photography I do for StillWalks does not involve that many fast moving objects. However, I manage well enough and enjoy watching the events. Having watched my daughter riding for many years, it is very useful to have an understanding of what is going on. This also allowed me to appreciate the equestrian Olympic events that much more than I have in the past.

Here are some alternative shots from the weekend. The event photos can be seen here.

Hooves 1

Hooves 2

Hooves 3

Hooves 4

Keeping in the Cool

Keeping in the Cool

The Horses have It

StillWalks-Equestrian is a new website and service born from the interest taken in my photography for the production of StillWalks.

Bont Show

Ready and Waiting

Relaxing virtual walks for horses? – No 🙂 Maybe there will be some StillWalks made for horse riders in the future but they might require me to take along step ladders on production day in order to get the same sort of view point as the riders. In fact, many existing StillWalks routes have had evidence of horses along the way.

In Action

In Action

The sound of the show – One of the aspects of StillWalks I enjoy the most is sound recording. As yet, I have only done this at one show and I have not published the StillWalk produced. I look forward to the next opportunity as the sounds at a horse event are so distinctive. Here is a clip from the unpublished Bont Show Walk – remember, you’ll need to go to the blog to see (and hear) this clip.

Examples of photography for StillWalks-Equestrian can be seen on the website at www.equestrian.stillwalks.com with all images being available for sale at www.photoboxgallery.com/stillwalks-equestrian

Taking Off

Taking Off

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.