Exciting Geothermal Energy!

geothermal activity

I have made my journey to the Hellnar Area, a land filled of geothermal activities!

The Icelandics have made a proud of controlling this great renewable source of energy! 85% of all eclectricity in Iceland is provided by renewables!
I went to the geothermal plant to explore the sound of these steams and pipes.

Then I sought for mud pots and hot springs!  I really like the natural crepitation and bubbling sounds coming from our earth. It is so exciting!

I eventually found out  that it even exists a geothermal cuisine!

This was my last stop in Iceland! I still want to record more, as this island hasn’t revealed all its power!
I am really impressed by how the Natural Forces (Wind, Earth, Fire, Water,..) are inherent of the landscapes and shaped the way human cultures developed!

Surprising Steaming Earth!

I have been driving around Reykjavik onto the golden circle.

Past the Thingvellir park, I saw steam coming from earth, thus intrigued me.
I realized this was the Geysir area, with many hot pots and geyser.

The geyser ‘Geysir’ is well-known and it is considered the mother of all geysers, since its name gave the name for all geysers on earth.

The Geysir is not spurting at this time, but smaller but nice one just next to Geysir, called Strokkur, spurts a lot more.

For recording the geyser, I used the mkh418 and Sanken C0-100k.
This would make nice watery explosion sound!

What an amazing show from our planet! This is stunning.
The whole area is full of geothermal activities.

Along the trail, I found Smoking River too!

Next, direction Snaefellsness Peninsula….

The beauties of the Fall season!

I have to say I have been meandering through the region during the latest weeks. There are some beautiful sceneries here in Canada.

Conversely the sound at Autumn is as special as the landscape is.

Autumn Leaves

My main focus was to capture the leaves rustling in trees or on the ground.

It turned out to be quite a challenge, due to the vast amount of unwanted noises, cars, constructions, dogs, …, but also because of the wind itself:
too much wind resulted in too much pink noises coming from all trees around, too few wind is difficult to have enough sounds emanating from the rustle.

The kind of trees is also really important, some leafy branches were quite disappointing, meanwhile I got surprised by some other types of trees or leaves that would deliver incredibly subtle and rich sounds.

I have been searching zones on the map, the further as possible from the roads. I had to travel quite a bit to get away from the traffic, and even there it wasn’t easy to get satisfying soundscapes. I am still experimenting and for few days I am also performing rustling foliage inside the studio with some plants I have gathered on my way.

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…

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.