This was the point the group reached on the Taste of Gower walk at Southgate. Looking over the edge to Three Cliffs Bay, it was disappointing not to go any further but the wind was very wild and this was causing difficulty for some in the group.
Having gone out again on my own afterwards, this was again the point I reached with my cameras and sound kit before deciding to turn back. I may have found the wind exhilarating but the rain which had started to blow in from the sea was less so.
All of the photos taken on this outing are rather grainy and in some cases they were a bit blurred. Considering the weather conditions, even if I had taken my tripod I would not have faired any better – it would simply have been blown away just as I was on one or two occasions!
Below is another short sound clip from my walk. For those of you with an interest in these things, the strength of the wind is evident in this clip recorded with my RODE NTG-3 shotgun mic with a Blimp windshield and dead cat fluffy cover onto a Fostex FR-2LE.
I have only ever made one New Years Resolution and I have always kept to it – never to make a New Years Resolution. However, I have recently been thinking that despite much of my work being focused on walking, too much of my time is spent sitting at a computer. Production and post production, image and sound processing, writing and administering projects and seemingly interminable fund raising.
I have decided (resolved!) to make my health and fitness a higher priority and have been taking a decent walk every morning. I have taken the same walk with minor variations almost every morning for the last ten days or so, and only once have I taken my camera. The purpose is to walk, not to stop and take photos every other step. That said, I cannot go about the place without looking and listening to the things around me and so my iPhone comes in very handy both for images and sound.
Most of the photos I will be posting this week were taken on my iPhone and some of the sounds clips were also recorded using the RODE app on the phone. My Edirol sound recorder also fits easily into my pocket and so I have used this too.
These photos were taken at the highest point of my walk where I can catch the sun rise behind the trees.
And you can listen to some of the forest birds below as well.
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.
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.
Following this week’s posts of phone photos from Fforest and the issues that go along with the processing of them for use in a StillWalks video, I have now reviewed the sounds recorded on my phone from the same walk and for me, this too leaves something to be desired. Below is a sample clip – towards the end of it there is some lovely birdsong!
I used the free RODE app for the recording but not the mic they make to go with it. Much as I would like to have one of these, the main purpose of my trials with phone photography and recording is to assess the quality that can be produced at the basic (free) level and compare it to using StillWalks’ higher end equipment.
I have finished going through the images for a StillWalks video and based on them alone, I would suggest that the finished product will be best viewed on a phone or tablet. The sound, however, may be more of a problem. It is likely that most people would not be aware that the sound quality is not up to scratch and that is understandable and no fault of anyone’s.
It comes down to what I call the “Wow Factor”. It is easy to accept lower quality in something if you have nothing to compare it with. However, the better the quality, the greater the impact or Wow Factor – whether it is recognized as such or not.
It is probably the sound that does most to take you to the location of a StillWalk and so it is important to me to do what I can to ensure this is as good as I can get it. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding! I will post the finished video on the blog when it is completed and you can judge for yourselves.
I questioned the accuracy of my studio clock yesterday morning because it said it was 9.30 AM but it felt and looked more like 7.30 to judge by the lack of light.
Today, however, we have had light again 🙂 After so much darkness and rain it was a huge relief and good for the soul. I wasn’t the only one enjoying the evening light and this Song Thrush was out to prove it as well – recorded on the new RODE iPhone app (not on their new iPhone mic though, that will have to wait a little while).
Click below to hear the Song Thrush I recorded this evening.
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.
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.
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 Spectral Display
More to come in the future about both the production and post-production element of StillWalks.