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Posts Tagged ‘Stelkur’

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It is rear now a days to discover new places without traffic or engine nose. I found one in June 2019. It was at Fellströnd, in the northwest of Iceland. That means I have natural silence for more than a one hour. It is a south part of a peninsula which only have gravel roads and no shopping service so motorist are normally not driving there for pleasure.
Less human traffic means more biodiversity. It thrives better in places with less farming and fast driving cars. One roadkill can as well mean a death of the whole family. Car covered with smashed bugs means less food for birds… and so on. This is clearly visible in those areas which have „industry“ farming and lots of fast driving traffic.
No traffic, or engine noise, means more natural silence and more transparent soundscape. Therefor it is very interesting to listen to this recordings. It is even possible to hear sheep footsteps far away and detect what bird species are in the area, even far away. In fact it is possible to analyze the situation of the biodiversity.
This is a high gain recording, recorded at +50dB. Gain was then increased In post about +25dB, normalized at -8dB and gently NR.
This is a part of 10 hour recording. This part was recorded between 7 and 8 in the morning at 21st of June.
Many bird species are audible in this recording. Black tailed Godwit, Common Redsank, Whimprel, Red necked Phalarope, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Common Ringed Plover, European Golden Plover, Dunlin, Raven, Redwing, Purple Sandpiper, Meadow Pipit, Geylag Goose, Whooper Swan, Red Throated Diver and Common Eider. I am almost sure I have not counted them all.
You can hear sheep footsteps which was though far away, also birds wing flaps as a low rumble noise.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low or medium level.

(Mp3 256Kbps / 48Mb)

Recorder: Sonosax SX-R4+
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pix: Canon EOS M50
Location: 65.169836, -22.404601
Weather: Calm, cloudy ca 13°C

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Hólmavatn is a heath lake in the interior in west of Iceland between the two valley Kjarrárdalur and Hvítársíða. It is a part of a big lake system on a heath named Arnarvatnsheiði.
I have once before record the soundscape by this lake before. That was mostly a struggle with wind all the time, so I did not get anything interesting.
But at 22nd of June 2019 the weather forecast was perfect for this area, clear sky and calm most of the night.
I arrived with my gear around 9 pm at my previous recording place. It was still windy and some anglers about 500m away east of the lake. I quickly put up my rigs knowing that a calm weather meant just lot of gnats. I decided to put a two stereo pairs close to the shore, facing out to the lake. LCT450s in NOS about 60 m east from my car and MKH20 pair 70 m in the west. Suddenly around 11pm the wind stopped to blow and I started the recording.
What glorious soundscape. All those small tiny things and all those bird species. The LCT540s sounds much cleaner and brighter than MKH20, I guess mainly because of the different location.
But there was a big problem which I did not notice with my bare ears. The anglers made so much noise it was clear they would destroy my „natural silence“ recordings this night. They were playing a radio all the time, talking, starting car engines, and even worse, soon after I started the recording two of them started a motor boat. All this noise lasted for about two or two and a half hours.
Later that night when this noisy anglers were gone, all the birdsong became calm and less active. I am not sure why, but afterwards when I listened to the recordings it seemed like the anglers on the boat were disturbing birds on their habitat.
Following recording is a part of this „anglers moment“, probably the best part because the motorboat was mostly far east on the lake most of this time.
In the beginning of the recording you can clearly hear tiny sparks. It is coming from foam which forms between stones in the shore during windy days. When the bobbles in this foam blows, they make this tiny sparking sound. During the recording the sparks get fewer and lower because the weather is calm and no waves on the lake.
But there are so many bird species I guess I will not know them all. Great Northern Diver, Read Throated Diever, Arctic Tern, Whooper Swan, Pink Footed Goose, Black Headed Gull, Golden Plower, Dunlin, Whimbrell, Common Snipe, Common Redshank, Arctic Skua, Rock Ptarmigan and probably some other which you are welcome, if you know, to name in comments below.
You will hear the fish jumping and Arctic Tern hunting on the lake surface. Other background noise other than human noise from anglers is mainly from the river Kjarrá which flows in the Kjarrárdalur valley 4Km north of the lake .
This recording got a gently noise reduction, mainly because of high gain.
It was recorded with 47dB gain. In post the gain was normalized +26dB up to -5dB
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

(mp3 256kbps / 68Mb)

Recorder: Sonosax SX-R4+
Mics: Lewitt LCT540s (NOS setup)
Pix: Canon EOS M50
Location: 64.799603, -20.895132
Weather: Dry. Mostly calm up to 5m/sec

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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

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This two midsummer recordings were made around four o´clock in the morning 15th of July 2017 nearby Arnarholt farm in Stafholtstungur, in west of Iceland. It is recorded on two stereo channels with two different microphones because usually every time I recorded in this place the recordings has been disturbed by traffic noise all night long. But somehow for some unexplained reason no car went around nearby road for more than two hours, so I got a wonderful recording this morning.
I placed those two microphone rigs very close to each other and pointed them toward north. Afterwards I could not decided which of those recordings were better so it is yours to decide which you like.
There are many bird species in this recording. Common Snipe, Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Black Taled Godwit, White Wagtail, Black headed Gull, Winter Wren, Northern Wheatear, Snow Bunting, Rock Ptarmigan, Common Starling, Redwing, Great Northern Dever, Whooper Swan, Graylag Goose and probably other species. Birds like Starling and Redwing are flying between branches in nearby trees.

My favorite microphones for nature recordings are Sennheiser MKH20 an omni-directional condenser microphone and Rode NT1A (slightly modified), a large capsule cardioid polar pattern studio condenser microphone. Both these mics have lowest self-noise available on the market.
I am used to use MKH20 in AB setup which mean the mics are in 40-45cm spaced parallel position (AB40). Then I turn the capsules 2-5° outward which gave me sometimes slightly „wider or more open space feeling“. This setup give me a stereo recording, 360° surround the rig.
My second best omni-directional ultra low noise mic for nature recordings is AT4022 but it does not sound as „musical“ or „natural“ as MKH20, so it is not as often in my tool box,
Cardioid mic detect sound mainly from one direction. so I use NT1A in different circumstances.
Lets say I like to record a birdsong. At the same time it is disturbed with unwanted noise, coming from another direction like waterfall, river flow, surf or traffic noise. I can place the backside of the cardioid mic to the noise source which mean I will get less of the unwanted noise and more of the birdsong.
In last two or three years I have not used NT1A in ORTF or NOS setup for outdoor recordings. But instead use AB4, same as for MKH20, which seems to give less phase error for the sound behind the rig.

These two recordings are NOT good examples for this two different mics in critical circumstances because no car passed by behind the rigs and most of the birds activity was also front of the rigs. But it gives a nice insight how this two different mics sounds and how the self-noise act in „quiet“ nature recordings.
NT1A was inside Rycote Cyclone + fur. MKH20 was inside Rycote WS2 windshield + fur. Both rigs are in AB40 +3°
I use MixPre6 in this recording. There is no doubt, the new Sound devices Kashmir mic preamplifier is ultra low noise and a sweet step forward to get better field recordings.
The HPF was at 40Hz and the gain was at 50dB for NT1A and 43dB for MKH20. The gain settings mainly get this arrangement because then both rigs sounds have equal level in the headphones while I was recording. In post the gain was increased almost 30dB on both stereo channels, up to -10dB.
Specrogram shows „all“ frequencies was bellow 8Khz so to lower unwanted mic self-noise I pull everything above 10Khz down with EQ (-5db @ 11Khz & -30dB @ 15Khz) .
This is a „quiet“ recording which mean you should listen to it at low level in quality headphones or speakers in quiet place.

NT1A recording
(mp3, 256kbps / 50,6Mb)

MKH20 recording
(mp3, 256kbps / 50,6Mb)

Here are two shorter version of this recording but now without high frequency cutoff and the gain level is normalized up to 0dB, so it should be easy to hear the mic self-noise in low quality headphones and PC amplifiers.
It is also easy to notice that MKH20 is covering 360° of the surround soundscape, while NT1A is only covering 180° with less bird songs and other activity.

NT1A. Without high freq cut off, normalized to 0dB
(mp3, 256kbps / 11Mb)

MKH20 Without high freq cut off, normalized to 0dB
(mp3, 256kbps / 11Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices MixPre6
Mics: Rode NT1a and Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 setup)
Pix. Canon EOSM

Location: 64.673460, -21.629304
Weather: Calm, cloudy, ca. 7°C

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During Icelandic independence day, 17. of June 2012, I was in Önundarfjörður fjord in the Westfjords, the north west peninsula of Iceland. This fjord lies deep between steep mountains with high cliffs. After midnight I entered an Arctic tern colony to record their sounds. The recording conditions was as good as it gets. The weather was calm, dry but cloudy, and the temperature was about 7 °C. Almost no traffic was in the fjord so most of the background noise was only coming from falling water in the mountains and sea waves at the shore.
This Arctic tern colony is big and has been there for decades, even centuries. This bird is very territorial and aggressive protecting the colony and many other bird more passive species feel safe to nest among the Arctic tern. So this recording includes sounds from many other bird spaces such as Whimbrel, Black-headed Gull, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Oystercatcher, and Golden Plover… and many more
The recording contains also human and sheep voices from a nearby farm. Swans, Red-throat Diver, and common Eider at the shore side and a some sound from a Gull colony high in the cliffs all around the fjord.
During the recording the Arctic Terns attack many times the furry microphones. Sometimes you may hear their excrement fall to the ground around the microphones, but at this time they never hit or peck the Blimps.
The duration of the recording was almost 80 minutes. Following recording contains the last 36 minutes so my disturbing visit is not much audible. This is just a nice ordinary summer night in the north west of Iceland.

Krían í Önundarfirði 17. júní 2012.

Upptaka þessi var gerð í kríuvarpi nærri Holtstanga innst í Önundarfirði.
Veður var stillt, þurrt en skýjað og hiti um 7°C. Það var því varla hægt að kjósa sér ákjósanlegra veður til upptöku á fuglalífi. Allt iðaði af lífi. Fyrir utan kríu mátti sjá og heyra í hettumáfum, spóa, lóu, stelk, tjaldi og fleiri fuglum, Efst í fjöllunum mátti sjá allt fullt af fuglum á sveimi björgunum. Í flæðamálinu voru álftir, lóm og æðarfugl.

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 50,7Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744t
Mics: Rode NT1a
Pics: Canon D30

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