Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Beginnings - with Nature

It is a new day as I write this. A beautiful dawn is unfolding on a summer day. Delicate golden sunshine is poking through tree branches and across dewy leaves. The birds are singing. The sound is drifting through blue sky and the still cool air. This is the Boreal Forest. (One of the nice things about summer here is that the nights are always cool.) This is a good place to begin.

Perhaps it should be mentioned here, at the beginning, what it is that I actually do. Yes, recording and producing nature sounds is a large part of what I do, as well as that, there is website writing (to advertise and sell the sounds), plus there is the photography and graphics for the website and CDs. Customer service is an important part of the job. So, life is divided between sitting at the studio workstation and being outdoors.

I will be writing about the adventures, the joys, perhaps the challenges, always about nature, and about the nature of recording natural sounds. Ideally, it will be an interesting and thoughtful read.

Karl Hamilton BFA

Every Moment is Unique

August 7, 2008
One of the first lessons that one learns when recording nature sounds, is that every moment is unique. Breezes ebb and flow. No two waves of the ocean sound exactly the same. A bird doesn’t sing his song exactly the same each time. No trickle of water is the same sound from one moment to the next. When one starts to add up all the little events that are happening simultaneously in a particular audio environment, then the possibilities seem endless. I find myself going out and recording 3, 4, 5 hours or more to find just the right nuance that invokes that feeling of “being there”. Ideally I try to have a finished product of about 70 minutes long and perhaps even 130 minutes long with no looping.

Sometimes though, nature does not co-operate. Many animals, particularly birds and amphibians, are only vocal at certain times of day, or when environmental conditions such as temperature or amount of daylight are in their comfort range. This can limit the length of time that an audio environment is present.

One recent example of this is “Spring Owls and Frogs – Boreal Forest ©”. I had the equipment set up over a number of evenings at a particular pond starting in the evening in the spring of 2008. The wood frogs and peepers only call in the spring as the evenings get milder. However, it was only for about 20 minutes of twilight on just one evening, that three great horned owls discussed where their mating territories were. The result is a delightful evening recording.
Nature Sounds.ca