Waiting for the wolves

Wolves

The wolf’s howl is a powerful strong sound of the animal kingdom. It is represented in many circumstances and is so typical of some mysterious and fantastic tales.

For some time now I kept a deeply-grounded desire to be able to record some of those. Unfortunately it is really difficult to get it from wild species. Coyotes are more easy to get as they have similar and louder howls, and are more numerous.

But today I took the opportunity to try and capture some howls as I discovered that zoo ecomuseum in Montreal have wolves.  There are 2 beautiful gray wolves which are healthy. I am not found of supporting zoo but it allows to get really close to some species which would be almost impossible in the wild.

Also I learned that it exists different types of howls . I am not sure which one I can get but I will figure it out.

I came here early and got a close approach to these creatures. I pointed out my shotgun mike and waited few hours. At some point they were playing and made some great growling sounds. However today the wolves did not howl. It’s ok, I can wait more times. It’s not like I am ordering a coffee. Patience is king!

I will try again, this for sure. I’ll come back next week, I am pretty sure I will be more lucky.

Why & How I failed to Record Pristine Nature Soundscapes in Ecuador?

Nature Fail

One of my goal in going to Ecuador was to record sound of the Nature, the “pristine Nature”.
What happened is that I was able to record ambiences of Ecuadorian villages, countries, cities, and also great pure nature sounds (but those were so few).
Prior to my departure, what I thought would be easy was to get access to Nature with little disturbance from Human.
In reality it turned out to be not the case in Ecuador and this for many different reasons.
I wanted to understand and analyse how and why, so I can learn from it.

While my previous trip to Central America and Guyana were prolific in pristine nature sounds, I was taken by surprise on what I found in Ecuador.

How/Why did that happen:

1) Surprisingly I found many roads on location which were not indicated on map. I discovered them once there! I have been told about Oil industry that overtook lands on government grasping many areas in the country. Thus they built a lot of roads on these parcels, generating traffic with big trucks, bus, from workers. It is sad to say but this disrupts the natural soundscape. And of course these roads are not officially indicated however I found afterwards the maps.me application which looks much more accurate than Google map. Roads that do not show up on google appears on maps.me. so I now know what to use and I have to acknowledge it is better to double or triple check on different maps!

2) Another things that I learned from is this:  I had a friend living for months in the town surrounded by the forest. I contacted him prior to my arrival. He told me he knew guides and places where I could find perfect nature sounds and I wouldn’t be deceived. I thus trusted him and didn’t plan so much for my stay in this village. The reality is that neither my friend nor the guide had experience in field recording. He brought me on a trip, but of course the place where the guide took us were too close from a road which we were able to hear from distance, even after walking 2or3 hours inside the forest. This was a waste of time and energy. I am not angry at friends in a manner because he was trying to help me and I had a great stay there.

3) After these experiences, I decided to go wild and reach the center of a natural reserve, which I thought would be a perfect place for Nature, and where I could have real pristine sounds. So I decided to go to Cuyabeno Reserve. The issue began with the fact that it is not allowed to go by your own  in those parks, you have to have a certified guide along with you. And the best way I found at that time was to book a 4 days trip with a lodge on site. The lodge was reachable only by a 2 hours boats on a small river. The only thought I could have was that it will be perfectly cut from human activities and I would find what I was looking for. But in reality arriving at the lodge, it was packed with tourists and employees (cook, ..), this is just normal since it is a lodge. In my mind  I thought I could just walk around the lodge and find quiet places like I did in Guyana in December. The only problem is that the surrounding of the lodge was all flooded in water, there was no possible way to go further than the wooden structures. I felt trapped in a touristy attraction. No one was quiet, it was kind of a nightmare. Hopefully during the night everybody was sleeping and It was a great moment to capture some pure nature.  At some point, the guide lent me a canoe, which sounded the perfect way to evade the lodge fortress. However I was no previous experience to manipulate a canoe, I did manage to navigate a little further on the river. But then at that point, I realized that all along the river were nonetheless other noisy lodges (4 or 5 in a row), but also a lot of traffic with motor boats every 4 minutes. What a difficult time! Me in the middle of the Amazon, and not finding peace and quietness!

At the end, 22 days in Ecuador and maybe 30 recorded minutes of pristine Nature. Not that bad, but the plan was to bring back at least 4 or 5 hours.

Here are the lessons I can pull from it (things to improve):

  • Plan with various/different maps!
  • Get more informations on the settings of a landscape and what particularities can bring weather. And possible flooded terrains…
  • Don’t trust people who have no previous Field Recording experience.
  • Beware of tourists
  • Avoid lodges farms
  • Learn how to navigate a Canoe
  • Surely more…

Miami express ambiences session

Recording some ambiences in Miami Beach Between 2 flights.

There is a wonderful sun out there.

Honing my ninja stealth skills once again!

I got some nice café ambience as I found one that has no music playing there. Lucky day

Stealth Recording in the café. Who knows?

 

Florida birds singing in the street

Roomtones in Ecuador

roomtone Ecuador

I could record some roomtones in the room I had in Quito. This was in the Marescal Neighborhood, with a vivid nightlife going on at night which could be heard from distance. I captured different times of the day with birds singing in the morning and cars honking  during the days.

Authentic Endless Street Markets in Otavalo

Otavalo Markets

I have strolled around this beautiful mountain town of Otavalo as it offers some remarkable markets on weekends.

I couldn’t go to Ecuador without recording these. I took my surround stealth setup and walked in and out the markets.

First the usual market all around the streets expose some incredible textile artisans. It is a one of the biggest in South America and the stands expands all over the village. It creates this huge rich color palette and reflects on sounds as many people swarm around.

Then, there is the ‘mercado de los animales’, the animal market which is surprising mess of people and animals. With randoms cows bawling, pig shrieking, people shouting… I was so exciting to witness this scenery and record truly authentic and interesting ambiences.

 

Recording from the Canoe

In the Cuyabeno Reserve you are not supposed to go on your own and it ia imposed to be accompanied by a guide.

Somehow I managed to have a Canoe lent to me so I could explore some sounds around. In fact the lodge where I found shelter is surrounded by water or flooded forests and there is no other way than taking a boat if you want to go anywhere.

Stealth Recording in the town of Baños

Banos Ecuador

I wandered around the streets of this small touristy village.
It is a really interesting village that is threatened at all time by the neighbor volcano Tungurahua.  I think I walked at least 7 times the same streets throughout all the village since it is pretty small. Some streets are steep and as a result I did a lot of exercise ;-). Without counting that I hiked up the mountain this morning.

Banos

All in all I surely walked 18km  today. I haven’t seen a lot of tourist along the way. It is impressive afterwards to think I didn’t feel insecure at any time. A lot of people told me about crimes in South America but it looks that it doesn’t apply to this little town, at least from what I’ve experienced around.

Banos Ecuador

My recorder is packed with interesting Ecuadorian ambiences from the church, the market, the gymnasium, cafes.
For these recordings I chose to record with my Custom Quad Surround Stealth Setup (CQSSS) since I am really akin to translate the immersive aspect.

Banos Ecuador Panorama

Troubles with NT45-O capsule

It’s been few days I have troubles with my newly purchased NT-45-O microphone capsules from Rode.

_rode_nt45

I recently bought 2 of them in an attempt to extend the possibilities with the NT5, and have them capture omnidirectionally.
While one of the capsule is working just great, the other one is doing its own concert of loud glitchy electronica.
I am assuming they don’t like the condition in Ecuador with too much humidity.
It is a bit frustrating as I have to set back from some recording setups I had planned.
I guess this is the price to pay for the difference in buying price compared to other manufacturer.

Rode NT5

I have to admit that during past recording trips, I also experienced some glitches with Rode. Although I found them to be not horrible and I was able to remove them at editing with pretty clean results.
But this time, the issue and the resulting noise is so predominent I won’t be able to use this track for its purpose. Maybe I can collect them for a glitch sound library 😉
I have to say the sound quality from Rode is usually really excellent and that is why I kept using Rode for many years. But if their behavior is unpredictable and they can’t stand a little humidity I have no choice other than removing them from my recording setup once and for all.

In comparison I had no problem with Sennheiser MKH under any conditions. Plus the weight make them much more suitable for field recording.

High Hike around Laguna Cuicocha

Laguna Cuicocha

laguna cuicocha

This morning I got a taxi ride until the entrance of the reserve at Laguna Cuicocha. I hiked up on the edge of the mountain encircling the Laguna.

laguna cuicocha

What a wonderful scenary! From up here it is possible to see all the Otavalo valley.

Otavalo Valey

Country and urban soundscape resonates in harmony along with some birds.

Laguna Cuicocha

laguna cuicocha

In a glimpse, I recorded some Quad ambiences. Everything went so fast, I had to take the taxi back in the hour so I can jump into the bus to southern direction near the volcano Tungurahua.