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Bæjarstaðaskógur (Farmsted forest) is a small forest in the east of Iceland, in Morsárdalur, in Skaftafell national park.
Morsárdalur, is a wide valley blanketed with woodland, contains multicolored rhyolite formations at Kjós valley, and the outlet glacier Morsárjökull with its creaking icefalls.
The forest’s name, Bæjarstaðaskógur, suggests that it used to be a farmstead during the Middle Ages and the ruins were quite visible until the 18th century.
Bæjarstaðaskógur is a beautiful oasis in the vast spread of sand. This 30 hectare forest is the most robust birch forest in Iceland, its birches can reaching 12 meters height. There are also Island’s straightest birches and the most precious. Bæjarstaðaskógur also has rowans and the most beautiful display of Icelandic wildflowers.
I have noticed that Redwing songs in this area is very different from other normal Redwing songs, even for whole Iceland. This Redwings stay in a small area, from the west side of the river Morsá to Bæjarstaðarskógur. Their song start with three or two falling pitch tone, always the same, before they start to sing in full blast.
If you are trained listener you will hear this Redwing song in this recording.
This is a 28 minutes part of seven hours long overnight recording. This part was recorded at 30th of May 2016, between 6 and 7 AM. About one minute after the recording start you will hear high rumbling sound from Morsárjökull glacier and with quality headphones you should hear rumbling sound many times. The mid range ambient noise is mostly rivers in mountains all around and Morsá in the valley. The white noise is a mic noise
This is a highly amplified recording. Recorded with MKH20 & NT1a, very close to each other at 52dB and then amplified again +30dB, so the sound is rather „flat“.
Quality open headphones are though recommended while listening at low level.

(256kbps / 54Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 788
Mics. Rode NT1a (NOS) & Senmnheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pix: Canon EOS-M
Location: 64.059604, -17.026755
Weather: Mostly clear sky, calm, temp. around 2°C

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Last summer I spend one week at Raufarhöfn, a small village in north east of Iceland, close to the arctic circle. Most of the time it was a fool‘s weather for „quality“ recording. But anyway, I recorded almost 6 to 10 hours every night close to the sore. Most of theese recordings contains rumbling wind noise, but sometimes – very few times, I got what I was looking for.
Here is one of them, recorded 17th of June 2016.
It is early morning. The clock is around four. Birds are busy to protect and teach their young to search for food. Shortly after the recording starts, you can hear a fisherman pass by on his car on way to the harbor. Then later, the fishing boat goes, and passes by on the way to the sea. It takes a long time for the enginenoise to disrepair.
This is a peaceful recording. A typical midsummer morning soundscape at the arctic circle, where the sun never goes down. Many bird spices are in this recording, but mostly Common Eider and their youngs. Also you can hear Oystercatcher , Golden Plover, Purple Sandpiper, Red Necked Phalarope, Whimbrel, Common Snipe, Redwing, Snow Bunting, Svan, Great Northern Diver, Northern Fulmar, Kittiwake, Raven and probably may other.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level.

(256kbps / 55Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 788
Mics. Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pics: Canon EOS–M

Location: 66.451296, -15.946621
Weather: Light gust, cloudy

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I am used to feed birds daily in my garden with all kinds of leftovers.
There are always some birds that watch my garden every day, and when they see me in the garden, some starling give a high pitch signal and some of them fly away. But shortly after that they come back with a flock of other birds, normally common starlings and redwings. Some birds like one blackbird and some redwings are now extra gentle around me while I prepare the food in the garden.
Christmas day, 25th of December 2016, was just like another „feeding day“. But it was snowing, so the traffic noise wash less than usual and therefore a perfect day to record a birds activity.
This recording starts slowly. Just few birds have arrived when the recording starts. But in the end the birds have eaten almost everything and they start singing, packed in the trees all a around my house.

(224kbps / 48Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Rode NT1a in Rycote Cyclone (AB50 setup)
Pix: GoPro Hero3
Weather: Cloudy, light breeze, snowing and -3°C

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Svínafellsjökull icefall lay in a valley between Svínafellsheiði and Hafrafell. It is an icefall from Öræfajökull which is the highest mountain/glacier in Iceland around 2109 meters high.
I spent several nights beneath Svínafellsjökull icefall in May, both 2015 and 2016, recording 8-10 hours overnight recording. I was always trying to capture iceberg breakdown into the glacier lagoon, because last time I record it in 2014 it was disturbed with huge tsunami.
But most of the breakdown was probably somewhere between 1300-1700 meters, high in the mountain.
Anyway, during the night when traffic goes down and the weather was calm, it was always interesting to listen to the glacier in the „silence“. It starts like a thunder with low frequency rumble, high in the mountains. Then a strange „white noise“ falls slowly down the the wally, all the way to the end of the icefall toe. I am still not sure if it was an echo from the mountain or some crawling sound from the glacier. But it was so slow that I am almost sure that it is was not an echo from surrounding mountains.
But this is not what you will hear in the following recording. After one of this overnight recording in 15th of May 2016 I decided to record near to a frozen pond close to the glacier’s toe. The time was around eight o´clock in the morning so the tourist traffic had not began to disturb the soundscape. The temperature was just below zero, but the morning sun was already melting the ice in the area. The soundscape was amazing. With closed eyes it sounds like a busy place with bunch of small elves. Small trickle, ticks and cracks makes the soundscape worth to listen and to record.
At 17th minute the glacier start to crawl and then again one minute later with low frequency rumble.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level.

(256 kbps / 56Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH8020/8040 (parallel ORFT)
Pix : Canon EOS-M
Location: 64.001270, -16.877298
Weather: Clear sky, calm, 1°C

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Wind is very often the recordist´s enemy. Especially if the rumbling noise of „hammering membrane“ is not acceptable.
Some recordists may say this rumbling noise is just normal. Everyone will hear similar rumbling noise when they stay in wind.
For me it sounds like „clipping distortion“.
Wind protection is one of the most important thing for nature recordings, especially in the country where wind below 3m/sec. is almost unique.
I have tried several wind protections. My own, Rode Blimp and Rycote Softie and Modular series. All of them sounds similar. So it was welcomed when Rycote introduced the Cyclone windshield. Cyclone have Floating Basket Suspension, which is very nice. Until now, it has been only be used in the overpriced Cinela products.
Rode NT1a is one of the best cardioid microphones available today for nature recording. But sadly it is not build for outdoor use, so it has some poor futures like handling noise.
So when I choose it on the field, it has been important to keep it in Rycote modular windshield, place it close to the ground (sadly very often too close) and pray for completely calm weather. Then pray again for nice outcome.
I per-order a pair of Cyclone mini windshield last summer and got it in mid September. My plan was to fix them with parallel MKH20/40. But I also gave my modified NT1a a try when I saw it was almost „plug and play“ to fix it .
Without fur Cyclone was not far from to be equal to Rycote modular series with fur. But when Cyclone was dressed in fur the rumbling noise almost disappeared in wind around 5-7 m/s. That was a huge success.
Following recording is a short part of overnight recording from Stafholtstungur, in the west of Iceland. The gust goes up to ca. 7m/sec. and the recorder HPF was set at 80Hz. The rig is about 1 meter above the ground.
Some rumble noise is audible in this recording, but some of it could as well be a vibration from the tripod. Keep it in mind this is NT1a which is particularly sensitive for handling noise.
I will spend more time to test this setup but it looks like I need to order another pair for my MKH20/40 rig.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level.

(265kbps / 36Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics: Rode Nt1a NOS setup
Pic: Canon EOS-M

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Hjalteyri is a small village on the western shores of Eyjafjörður, fjord in north of Iceland.
It all began when the Norwegians started salting herring around 1880 and the village Hjalteyri was confirmed by law as a trading post in 1897. Swedes, Scots and Germans would fish there in the following years but all foreigners had left by 1914.
The Icelandic fishing company Kveldulfur was active there from 1914 and in 1937 built the largest herring factory in Europe at Hjalteyri, which ran until 1966. The company also built many of the beautiful residential buildings that still stand in the village, such as the house of Thor Jensen, the founder of the company, and Asgardur, where the head of the factory lived.
The herring disappeared from the fishing grounds in the 1960s and Kveldulfur thus left as well. Fishing from small boats increased. Today, at Hjalteyri is a harbor and a small fishing industry, the drying of fish heads and aquaculture are the mainstay of the economy. During the summer months the buildings of the old herring factory are often used as a venue for art exhibitions. Around 40 people lives there today. There is also a pretty big Arctic Tern colony which brings also many other bird species to the area.
The following recording was captured in 8th of July 2015. It is 25 minutes of 6 hours long overnight recording.
This is one of my recording where I probably should have used another microphones because of the noise source in the surrounding. In this case a „fan noise“ from the factory. I use cardioid mics so the noise is only on the left side, instead of omni which would have brought the noise more to both sides and made the listening more pleasant in headphones.
So now I would recommend to listen to this recording in speakers in low-mid level, instead of headphones.

(256kbps / 46Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics: Rode NT1a in NOS setup
Pics. EOS-M
Location: 65.853976, -18.194666
Weather: Calm up to 4m N, almost clear sky, temp around 8-12°C

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It sounds a bit stupid to record silence. But if the equipment can capture something in the silence you can not hear with your bare ears, then it can be very interesting. For instance, you never know what you will see when you look into the deep space with telescope. You never know what you will hear in the silence with a low noise microphone.
I will not define all my views of different silence, but for sure, silence is never completely quiet and it is my favourite recording material.
Best time to get „silence“ is normally during the night in calm weather after sunny day (like this one). In such moments temperature waves are also calm or in layers, so sound can travel long distances without being disturbed. Noise from one car can travel up to 30 km in open field and if you hear it with your bare ears it will be clearly audible through most quality recording gear today. Amplifying sound with low noise microphone, works like a telescope. It drags weak sound far away closer to your ears. In places where you need to hold your breath to hear probably only your heart beat, it can be a very busy place in your headphones.
But there is also other kind of silence. It is on hot sunny days when wind blows and the air is very unstable. Sound normally does not travel long distances in such circumstances.
One of these days was 18th of July 2016 on the World Listening Day. I was traveling on Kjölur, west highland route in Iceland. The sun was shining all day and the wind was blowing from the south. I took of the main rode and followed a track into Kjalhraun lava field. My plan was to find the mysterious Beinahóll (Bone hill) and the field where Reynistaðabræður (Reynisstada brothers) and almost 200 sheeps lost their lives in a insane weather in September 1780. It is still possible to find bones on this field so for a long time I have bin interested in this tragic story.
But the track through the lava was too ruff for my car so I kept on by food.
Many times for almost three decades it has been my plan to find this place while travelling by bike over Kjölur. I never did it because I was always wearing a green jacket and for superstitions reasons it has been told dangerous.
This time I did not find Beinahól. Instead I started recording the silence in the lava.
The weather was a typical sunny „midday silence“, where the thermal heat from the sun makes the air unstable so sound waves did not travel long distances.
This was one of these days I did not hear any plains or car traffic, even though Kjölur main route was not far away. When I held my breath, I only did hear weak bird song in the distance and some flies around. Because the mics are located close to the ground, you will also hear the wind wipe the ruff lava surface.
This recording is captured with MKH20 microphones and SD744 recorder. Gain was set at 56dB and HPF 80Hz. In post the gain was again raised about 25dB. Below 20Hz and above 10Khz the freq. was pulled down by 25dB.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level. Hold your breath while listening 🙂

(256Kbps / 46Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 setup)
Pics. EOS-M
Weather. Sunny, about 18°C, calm up to 3 m/s in gusts
Recording location: 64.77883, -19.42805

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