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Kirkjubæjarklaustur (Klaustur) is a village in the south of Iceland on the hringvegur (road no. 1 or Ring Road) between Vík í Mýrdal and Höfn. It is part of the municipality of Skaftárhreppur and has about 500 inhabitants.
Even before the time of the first Norse settlement in Iceland, Irish monks are thought to have lived here. Since 1186, a well known convent of Benedictine nuns, Kirkjubæjar Abbey, was located in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, until the Reformation in 1550. The names of the waterfall Systrafoss („waterfall of the sisters“) and of the lake Systravatn („water of the sisters“) on the highland above the village refer to this abbey. Folk tales illustrate the history with stories about good and sinful nuns. The Systrastapi (sister’s rock) is where two of the convent’s nuns were buried after being burned at the stake. One of the nuns was accused of selling her soul to the Devil, carrying Communion bread outside the church, and having carnal knowledge with men; the other was charged with speaking blasphemously of the Pope. After the Reformation, the second sister was vindicated, and flowers are said to bloom on her grave, but not that of the first nun. Systravatn also has a legend relating to the convent. The nuns traditionally bathed in the lake, and one day two nuns saw a hand with a gold ring extending from the water. When they tried to seize the ring, they were dragged below the water and drowned.
The village became well known in Iceland during the Lakagígar volcano eruptions in 1783. The pastor of the local church and dean of Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla, Jón Steingrímsson (is) (1728 – 1791), delivered what became known as the „Fire Sermon“ (eldmessu) on July 20, 1783. The legend says that this sermon stopped the lava flow, and the village was spared at the last moment. The current church, constructed in 1974, was built in memory of the Reverend Jón Steingrímsson.
Today, the village is an important service center for the farms in the region as well as for tourists and weekend visitors. (Wikipedia)
During summer time many bird species are nesting close to the village and the river Skaftá which flows beside the village. Arctic Terns have a big colony almost in the middle of the village, so many other migrant birds are nesting there too.
The recording was captured early morning 7th of June 2016 and is a part of 7 hours long recording
Many bird species are in this recording, Arctic tern, Red wing, Common Snipe, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Red-necked Phalarope and probably many other species. What I love most in this recording is in the middle of the recording, is a „special song“ of Eurasian Wigeon which is not a common bird in my recordings.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level. Be careful, sometimes the level goes high when birds fly by.

(mp3, 265kbps / 59Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20
Pic: Canon EOS-M

Location: 63.787049, -18.050793
Weather: Cloudy, Calm, around 7 °C

Auglýsingar

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For me nothing is as pleasant as laying in the grass on a warm summer day in good distance from human activity, looking at the sky and listen to the wind wipe the grass until I fall a sleep.
This is something I did the 30th of July 2017 when I decided to visit places I remembered as a child, almost 50 years ago. It was at my grandparents´ farmland, Efri-Brú, which they owned most of the last century.
About 2 km northeast of the farm is a place named Hvítingshæðir. There is an old ruin of sheep shield, surrounded in grass field and remnants of old fence. This sheep shield in Hvítingshæðir was one of three or four sheep houses in distance from the main farm buildings. These sheep shields were usually built in places where it was easy to mow and keep hey for sheep during the winter months.
There is not much going on in this recording. Many decades have passed since farming was in the area and most birds are quiet this time of the day. So gust is playing the main role in the recording.
This was one the first recording I did with my parallel MKH8020/8040 AB setup in Rycote windshield. It was recorded on four channels with 50dB gain and HPF at 80Hz.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(mp3 256kbps / 48Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Parallel Sennheiser MKH8020/8040 AB setup
Pix: Canon EOS-M
Location: 64.111163, -20.972373
Weather: Dry, sunny, light clouds, 3-5 m/sec

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First weekend of August I traveled to Ísafjörður in the northwest of Iceland. From Isafjörður I took a daytrip with a boat over to Hesteyri which is located in a nature reserve named Jökulfirðir.
The weather was splendid so it was ideal to bring the recording gear with me and record the atmosphere at Hesteyri. This time I brought with me my newest mic setup I built inside Rycote stereo AG windshield. It is a 40cm spaced AB rig (AB40), a two stereo channels with parallel MKH8020/8040, which is slightly angled outward (around °5).
In Hesteyri I record in several places in a small area. Two of them was on the beach where the waves gently plays the music on the coastline during the rising tide. One of this recording is posted here below.
The wind was about 3-6 m/sec, blowing parallel among the coastline so the wind hit only the other side of the windshield, not front of it.
I used MixPre6. The gain was at 50dB, High pass filter on MKH8020 was 120Hz and on MKH8040 80Hz.
The microphones were placed on tripod 60cm above the ground. During the recording the tide rise so in the end the waves went under the rig.
Background noise is mostly the sea waves further outside the fjord and rivers behind and allaround the fjord. Sometimes the boat is knocking on the pier, 200 m away on the left side.
In post I lower the gain -5dB on MKH8020 and rise the gain +5dB on MKH8040 to keep the audible gain between the mics close to be equal. Use again Hi-Pass filter at 100Hz to minimize wind rumbling noise. and then normalized all three audio clips to 0dB. No low pass filter or noise reduction was used.
Both MKH8020 and MKH8040 sounds pretty similar in this recording, so I guess someone will ask:“ Why use four mics when two seems to be fine?“ “ Why making this four channel rig with this expensive mics?“ The short answer is this. The 8020´s are detecting sound from all 360° while 8040´s is only detecting 180° front of the rig. So if there was something behind the rig, like traffic noise it would been clearly audible with 8020´s, but far less with 8040´s. At this time (in Hesteyri) it was only a silence behind the rig so this is not a ideal recording for omni – cardioid comparison.
Field recording is mostly „once in a time – moment capturing“. So having a two different stereo recording of the same event, it is more likely either recording is OK. Two different recordings also give several opportunities in post.

MKH8020/8040 mixed together.
(Mp3 256kbps / 38Mb)

Only MKH8020
(mp3 256kbps / 5,3Mb)

Only MKH8040
(mp3 256kbps / 5,3Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Sennheiser MKH8020/8040 (AB40) in Rycote AG (See pictures)
Pics: Canon EOS-M

Weather: Sunny. Light breeze 3-6 m/sec, ca. 14°C
Location: 66.333261, -22.873719

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One year ago I was recording in Skaftafell national park and neighborhood in southeast of Iceland. One of my favorite recording place in this area is not exactly in the park, but on Skeiðarársandur, a huge broad sandy wasteland along Iceland’s south-eastern coast, between the Vatnajökull icecap and the sea.
One of the reason I love this place is the silence. There is almost „nothing“. Just the sand. In the horizon far away is the glacier Vatnajökull on the one side, and on the other side just the sky. The only thing that disturbs this silence is traffic or the wind. So when it is calm during the night and traffic is down it is possible to listen deep into this amazing open space. There is not much life. There is probably only Rock Ptarmigan that lives there all year around. Other species are migrants during the summertime so it is easy to say, Rock Ptarmigan is the residents of silence.
This recording is a recording of silence. Most people will not hear anything in this circumstances, probably only its own heartbeat and notice „they have“ tinnitus. But with best equipment is it possible to listen deeper into this quiet place.
You will hear some birds and insects. With good headphones you will hear the rumble sound of heavy surf on the beach 20 to 30 km far away.
BUT this recording is not completely quiet. So be careful while listening. Two birds, a male and female Rock Ptarmigan, are coming very close, „talking“ loud into your ears (2:05).
It is also worth to listen to another earlier recording from this place. „Stories from Skeiðarársandur„.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(256kbps / 61Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 +5° outward)
Weather: Calm, cloudy, +5°C
Location: 63.969892, -17.160072

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I have published many times recordings from the Nature Reserve Flói in southwest Iceland, so I will not introduce that area again.
During the years I remember couple of times when curious sheeps have disturbed the recording. This is one of them.
This peace is a 30 minutes of nine hour overnight recording. It was recorded between 7 and 8 o´clock in the morning 25th of July 2015.
The recording is not only disturbed by the sheeps, it is also highly disturbed by tourist traffic, especially in the air. Jets are arriving and leaving the country and smaller planes in sightseeing so this peaceful area is not especially quite this time.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at medium level.

(256kbps / 57,2Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: RodeNT1 (NOS) & MKH20 (AB40) as close together as possible
Pix: Canon EOSM
Location: 63.901026, -21.192189
Weather: Calm, cloudy, around 11°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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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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