My walk this week returns to the nature reserve I began exploring a couple of weeks ago with my phone camera. When I returned with my DSLR camera I enjoyed finding practical angles and appropriate subject matter to try and represent the tangled and wild environment.
Some of this old quarry has been used as a bit of a dumping ground in the past, but even the these items are being swallowed up by nature and I suspect that the only object that will resist both time and natural forces is that dreaded and indestructible material plastic.
On my walk this week I didn’t attempt to document my walk up the valley – I went for the walk and nothing else. But then, as so often happens, I got distracted by all the wonderful aspects of there environment around me – in particular the river.
So I took some video showing various elements of the water flow and the changing associated sounds and then continued on my way.
The mossy dead tree below points the way of the river flow (just in case you weren’t sure), but it wasn’t until I climbed up the eastern slope of Cefn Drum that I took one or two more snaps on my phone. These include the curious object I found lying at the track side – does anyone have any idea what it may once have been.
My walk this week is a circular one with the circuit including the Loughor Estuary and salt marsh on my doorstep and also an old quarry which for many years has been a neglected nature reserve.
The space of the estuary was as enjoyable as ever and although it cannot be heard in the video below, I can say that I heard curlews calling as well as the range of other birds enjoying the watery habitat of the river and marsh.
As my walk extended my route took me past an old quarry that I have only tried exploring once before. On that occasion, later in the year, the tangle of brambles made it impossible to get more than a few metres into the neglected reserve. However, those same brambles are not so thick just now and although it was still a bit of a fight to make any progress, I was able to get a better idea of what the place is like.
My walk this week is through what is virtually a forest. I mean “virtually” in a few ways:
Only photos and sound are used, so it is not the real thing.
It was once more than it is now, a large section of it (most of the conifers) have been harvested as originally intended.
This is my main reason for using the word virtually – I was doing the walk as a production walk for a StillWalks® VR 360 video.
Recently we have been trying this out and after several trials, this will be the fourth SWVR 360 video. It is not being made public yet as a resource to add to the normal StillWalks® video collection but we have been getting feedback which suggests that while some will find this fully immersive experience very effective, others will prefer the more meditative flat screen 2D StillWalks® videos, finding the VR version to intense even though it is a genuine StillWalks® production with no voiceovers or music. The SWVRs do, however, use video rather than still photography.
If anyone is interested in looking at one of the SWVR videos, this will require a VR headset (there is not a lot of point in it if you are just going to scroll around a 360 video on YouTube). You will at least need a Google Cardboard viewer (quite cheap). You should express your interest in the comments and I will be able to provide a private link to one of the videos (with license restrictions attached) and ask that you feed back any thoughts about your experience.
In the meantime I have included a short soundscape and still photographs from my walk which I hope you will enjoy. Click the play button below and then click the first image to move through a carousel of the gallery.
On my walk this week I had an altered view of my surroundings and the differences can be seen in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th images below.
I had been to the ophthalmologist for an eye check up following laser treatment and, as always, they put drops in my eyes to open the pupils as wide as possible. The result of this is that a lot more light gets in and this can be difficult to cope with. But I had my sunglasses with me so that when I went for a walk in the park afterwards the sunny day was not a problem but I had to rely on my iPhone to set itself correctly for the photos I took.
The photos below are what the camera saw except for numbers two and three. No.2 is an approximation of what I could see through my shades and No.3 is what I would have seen without the shades.
Sight, however, is not needed for sound and so I was able to capture snippets of conversation, the birds and the children, with only a small distortion from the wind which I was able to deal with in post production.
I must say that it was frustrating not to be able to see properly on my walk but that did not stop me focusing on some of the things I find interesting there – the “Whomping willow”, the shrub hugging the balustrade, the textures, if not the colours (which were distorted), and it’s good to see the effects of light and shade in the photos, albeit after the fact so to speak.
My walk this week was a much needed one towards the end of the day – a day on which I had spent all my time on the computer.
It is the sounds enjoyed on this walk that are most important to me but the images and video give a visual context to it as well.
The robin and the blackbird seem to be having a conversation – and the sheep have something to say too.
The walk took me up a familiar footpath where I noticed things I hadn’t really paid attention to previously – such as the arboreal elbow of a tree or the integration of another tree and old build wall. Perhaps I should describe this as a take over of man-made by natural.
And from my elevation with views I descended a steep track to the valley floor and the river I have so often featured here.
Click the play button for the sound file and then the first image to view the images in sequence.
My walk this week is really my walk last week when I ventured down to the misty marshes early one morning before the day warmed up and enjoyed capturing this beautiful place with stills, video and audio.
Any environment differs according to the weather conditions, but this can be perceived in different ways. Visually (and in a tactile way) the misty marshes are exciting to me. Even though the river is moving ever so slowly, the fog in the air is mysterious and the atmosphere is dank or clammy to the touch.
An excess of moisture is literally hanging in the air and this changes our experience of sound as well as vision. The short video clip above shows the this moisture and also transports the sound of traffic on the motorway very efficiently. The result of course is that on this day, at that time, the marshes were noisier than usual – not only with the busy road but also with the birds shouting over it.
In the soundscape below I have been able to focus more on the birds than on the background traffic and we do this with our ears (or rather our brains) as well – filter out or dim down the sounds we do not want to listen to and focus on the those we enjoy most. That, for me, is not only the birds and in this instance includes those wonderful gates as well.
And then there are the stills, an opportunity to capture a moment in time, a snippet of what is seen and felt, both of the broader landscape and also some of its details, textures, patters, nuances.
I hope you can enjoy the different aspects of this little corner of Wales as much as I did on my walk. Click on the first image and look through the carousel on a larger scale while listening to the soundscape.
My walk this week was through three different Swansea parks – it was a very pleasant walk but one which started with something of a challenge to my patience when it comes to park keeping!
St James’ Park is small but has a wonderful collection of trees, some of which are truly majestic in stature. It is a wonderful environmental oasis in an urban setting which naturally has a regular deposit of leaves and pine needles on the ground. And this is where my patience was tested – not by the leaves but by the park keeper using a leaf blower to clear them. I say “clear”, but really, that is a joke. I find the noise pollution alone is enough to set me ranting.
So please excuse my opening to this post and enjoy the dulcet tones of the leaf blower with a brief scan of the St James’ Park and then move quickly on to the preferable sounds of the birds, children playing and adults walking in Brynmill and Singleton Parks.