Category Archives: field recording

Field recording = the art of perseverance!

Before this trip I did a ton of research, and compiled a Google Map of recording locations. Visually they looked perfect, and most I had been to before. But not to record…

The first on my schedule is a beautiful peaceful bay, with a very photographic jetty. I’ve shot much XPAN here in the past but never recorded. When I arrived it looked stunning, but…. a large launch was moored at the jetty and they were loading some goods onboard. I shot some photos while I wandered around, had a chat to the launch owners… But it was soon apparent that this was not going to be recordable as (a) their friends turned up with much nattering… and (b) almost no waterlap. No lovely sloshing around under the jetty, nothing. OK. Shot some gorgeous photos and move on.

Next stop was also busy… and every time I drove past it (3 or 4 times) it was still busy… It must be a good spot for them, because for me it was also a non-starter. See if you can spot the issue?

Imagine the laughter if I fronted up & asked them all to take a half hour break so I could record… They are there to feed their families, all good… moving on…

Now this jetty I had been to before & again, at Anakiwa, and shot lots of great XPAN photos here many times…

But even this was a challenge, to my sanity mostly… I arrived & parked there for half an hour to see if it was busy. No one was around at all, so I set up my mics as per the photo… And I am very aware I am blocking anyone from going on the jetty, as they would have to climb over my mics… I am always hyper aware of my impact on others. But it seems the opposite is not true. I recorded like this for 30 minutes, and then went back and loaded up all the mics & stands & my recorder and I am about to walk out to the end of jetty to get a second perspective… And an old guy and his dog turn up. He makes some dumb comment and I ask, do you need to get past? He doesn’t respond so I ask with a little anger: DO YOU NEED TO GET PAST???? As in, do you need to get past right fckng now? Could you not wait half an hour & walk out the jetty then? No he desperately needs to walk out on the jetty now. So I stand aside and let him past.

Almost instantly two women with babies strapped to them appear. WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING? they ask. Me: What I’m doing is none of your business, but… ALL I AM DOING IS STANDING HERE WAITING FOR YOU TO LEAVE. Them: Oh… ok we just wanted to walk out on the jetty. Me: to myself, ‘right fckng now? Not in half an hour when no one else is here, right fckng now????’ – I stand aside, and off they go, to join the old guy standing at the end of the jetty…

Enough. I take my mics and walk way along the beach and record a nice long take of gentle waterlap on the beach. And I wait until all these suddenly urgent jetty visitors leave…. Then I walk back out to where I was an hour prior, and no one is around. I sit out there for half an hour recording. No ones comes out to the jetty. No one.

Why did they all turn up when I was there? Its a small remote location and I think these people are bored AF. Sorry I am not your entertainment, and don’t owe you an explanation. I should get a business card with three words on it:
Please go away.

Field recording = the art of perseverance!

Current Field Recording Setup

Kahurangi National Park, Karamea – at the end of the road, by Box Canyon Cave

As people often ask what mic stands etc I’m using I thought I would document my current field recording setup. I came across the photo above & while its from before the pandemic, it shows all of my mics & stands etc..

For a long time now I have been using the Manfrotto Nano stands – in the photo above, the big Sennheiser MKH70 mics are on Manfrotto 5001b stands which have longer legs making them more stable.

The MKH8050, MKH8040x2 and MKH8020x2 are all on Manfrotto 156 stands which have a smaller footprint & work fine other than in strong wind…

For the Sanken CUX100K mics (not in the photo) I bought a pair of the new Nano MS049c carbon fibre stands which have as much reach and stability as the big 5001 stands, but being carbon fibre are lighter… & inevitably, a bit more expensive…

My Sound Devices MixPre10-II recorder lives in a Petrol PS602 bag which it seems are no longer made. I’ve had this bag for ages, as I used to fit a SD744T + SD722 + 302 preamp in it. And while the MixPre10 is small enough it could fit in a much smaller bag, I also need to safely store batteries (I use 2 x NP75) and headphones, sometimes contact mics + preamp or hydrophones, and I also have eight mic cables permanently connected, routed, ID’d and safely coiled & attached to the bag with velcro cable ties, such that I can hike with it all securely.

To carry the mics & stands I use a Peak Design 65Litre Travel Duffelpack – thanks to Hide Aoki at AntiNode Design for the tip on this. The Peak bag has zips which makes it expandable, and also has both backpack straps & a normal duffel bag carry handles. It can fit all my mics, stands & camera tripod, so I can hike from car to location in one trip:

Totaranui Beach, Takaka

Both bags have rain covers, so if I get caught out I’ll get wet but the gear will be fine!