Monday, September 29, 2014

Morialta Conservation Park

This weekend, I headed out to Morialta Conservation Park, a short half hour ride from the city via the H30 bus. Watch for stop 26 carefully, as the bus stop was hidden behind some trees. Thankfully, there were a pair of hikers who were also visiting the park that rung the bell.
The bus drops you off mere meters away from the entrance to the park, and from there it's a short stroll to the trailhead.
The park boasts walks and hikes for all levels; one of the easy level course meanders along the base of the hills, and ends up by a platform below a waterfall. The medium and hikes take you up rather high.
Being the idiot that I am, I took one of the medium courses "because it's only 2.5hrs for a return trip". Riiiight. Heaven forbid that a real life hike is not like running around the world map in final fantasy, because I totally did not bring out enough water. I realize about a third of the way in, that uhoh, I've finished almost half my water supply.
Rationing was the word of the day, and I took sips and did not swallow. Even better, I got lost someway through - decided to "go off the beaten path" - and found myself at the top of a very very steep hill. About maybe a tenth of the way down the hill, the gradient was increasingly steep, easily 12, maybe 15 degrees. Fine for walking upwards, but very slow moving downwards. I decided to turn around then to look for a proper way back to the trailhead.
Thankfully, there was another path on the way up that I missed, which lead directly to the trailhead. Much rejoicing was had once I discovered the water fountain. Because of the lack of water though, I was severely dehydrated, and spent most of saturday in a headache filled daze. Guess I will be bringing more water next time!
I'm also re-acquainting myself with the light in South Australia - it seemed like towards the later part of the day, like 2pm, the sun was hitting at a very nice oblique angle, and I think my photos got nicer once the harsh noon sun moved off.
I also spent some time recording birdsong and the little stream that filled the waterfall, will post up a sound clip when I get a moment.
Definitely will be back again, it's nice to stretch the legs. The path I took had a rather steep gradient for the first twenty or so minutes, then it petered out to gentle up/down gradients. So, ymmv!
The H30 bus also runs at half hour intervals, so plan for that. I waited for my bus with several arachnids, one of which is displayed below:
Can't wait to check out more places in the coming months!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rule Britannia for Wind Ensemble

Spent a few minutes a day re-arranging this piece for wind ensemble, and told myself "yeah, i'll probably need 2 hours, maybe 3 to sequence it" RIIIIGHT. Bloody took me most of the evening.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rule Britannia for Wind Quartet

I think the description of the video says it all :)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cleland Conservation Park

Another stop to visit during my stay here in Adelaide, is Cleland Wildlife Park. I used to spend an insane amount of time here, the last I was in Adelaide. Going crazy with photography and all.

This time round, I'm just taking it easy and just exploring some parts of the park.

There is no direct bus to Cleland from the city, rather, you'd need to take the 864 from Grenfel street up to the Crafer's Park N Ride. From there, you switch to a bus that takes you up to the wildlife park. On the way up, there are stops for Mount Lofty Summit, as well as the botanical gardens.

The bus that brings you up - at least on the weekends - only appears to run 3 times during the day, so you will need to plan your trip very well! I got the earliest bus which got me to Cleland about half past 10. The return buses are at 1.30pm and 4-ish. Being the oddly excited to visit Cleland yet not wanting to wear out the welcome, left with the 1.30pm bus. Actually, it was because I wanted to get to the Central Markets to get a laksa for lunch, but that's another story.

Entry is 22 for Adults, and the year pass is 55. Given that I'm likely to be up here several more times, I got the annual entry pass. My first stop was with the dingos... which appeared to be a different pack from the last time.

The feeding time appeared to be 2.30pm, which I'd forgotten, and I wasn't going to stay that long, so I headed out for the real reason I was here, to record some birdsong.

Cleland has lots of aviaries scattered around Cleland, and I visited several to record the music with the Zoom H1. I've modified the windmuff so that it stays on better, and it breaks up the wind rather well.
I'm still very new to recording nature sounds, and as far as I can tell the zoom performs great up close to the birds. I've put up one of the clips I'd recorded, in one of the outlying aviaries where people tend not to visit, or, don't stay long at all.
Just listening to the birds live whilst the recorder does its thing is great, I should figure out how to meditate and stuff like that.
Apart from that, I had a quick visit with one of the many partitioned off areas of the park with kangaroos. The roos are generally very approachable, and love to eat the pellets. Definitely something to experience once a life.

In the end, time ran out and I headed out the park. I went through the area where the Rock Wallabies were housed in, and as like 5 years ago, are always too well hidden to be seen.

Will definitely be back, but not for a few months - wanna go visit Waterfall Gully, Morialta, Hallet Cove and loads of other place to capture me some sound waves :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Post Adelaide | South Australia Avaiation Museum | Semaphore Beach

Quite a hectic day today; visited Port Adelaide for a pancake lunch and a quick revisit. I don't remember much having changed, and for some reason I _really_ wanted to visit the Aviation Museum, so there I went.

It was a very enjoyable experience. Lots of information was posted about these planes - and more, like rockets! After that, I left to visit Semaphore Beach.

It was about an hour's walk from Port Adelaide before I arrived at the beach.

Semaphore Beach has a long stretch of shops and restaurants leading to the jetty, and there are public toilets available at well appointed spots. The jetty is the longest of the 3 beaches I've visited so far, and it is rather wide too! Alot of the people don't appear to be native from Australia though, something tells me some of them are from Burma.

I then took off along to beach to do some recording of the waves again! This time armed with my diy windscreen XD Will update here once I have more!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Yet another DIY windscreen/deadcat/windmuff blog post on the web.

So, last week, I decided that my "Dream Job*" was to be a nature recorder like Chris Watson, and OMG! I have to a) buy a new field recorder b) buy some awesome headphones c) buy a windmuff d) buy some awesome microphones! e) buy lots of stuff!

Sadly, I have inflicted by this thing called "growing up" which appears to be a horrendous terrible affliction, which tells my brain to not randomly purchase stuff. Much.

It's quite obvious I'm not going to be a nature recordist, much less have the time to do much recording so I decided to just work with what I got, my Zoom H1. Legitimately, I have a good excuse for getting a new shiny recorder - the H1 _again_ developed the battery drain issue, which I've seen some forum posts mention something about faulty capacitors. The H1 I have is already exchanged for a good one, which was good, but it seems like the components may have failed yet again.

But... I really don't use the recorder much. A whistle recording here and there is all I've used it for, and buying a new one is really not a good use of resources, but we'll see ;-)

In any case, I've brought the H1 out twice for recording beach waves, and I thought it was really good when the wind is calm (last week), but it performs really badly on a windy day (two weeks ago at Glenelg). A windmuff is the first obvious solution, so I thought it'd be fun to diy a windmuff.

A quick hop down to the Spotlight along Rundle Malle and I picked up a 20cm strip of faux fur that's almost 2 meters wide for 12 bucks. A few needles, and an hour or so making a rough pattern and sewing it together... walah!

 The fur chosen had a backing that was really thin, there were other luxury faux furs at spotlight that looked really awesome, but were rather thick. This specimen felt slightly stretchy and I could almost glimpse the overhead lights shine through them.

In-house tests indicates that they really cut the whoosh down when blowing straight a the mics. The real test would be outside in proper windy conditions.

Oh, another reason to upgrade the H1 is that the tripod thread on the H1 is plastic >.>

Seriously, plastic?!

It doesn't even fit my tripod properly. Blargh. Anyways, if everything goes well, I'll be going to Port Adelaide tomorrow for the afternoon, then Semaphore beach to capture the beach waves at sunset.

*Last week, I decided, my dream job was to be a chiropractor. And just about oh, 5 hours ago, I was at a concert, and decided, my Dream Job was to be a violist. Waaaait a second I gave that up like half a year ago. Ah.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

FF8 on PS Vita

Stopped playing the FF series after FF7 on the PC - could never really afford the consoles anyways. Now, several months ago, I happened to read that some old PS games could be played on the vita, and looking it up, holy wow! Lots of the old PS generation final fantasy remakes are available, including 8 and 9 which I've never played.

Got my vita a few weeks back, and the experience is kinda bitter sweet. I got a few games for it, FF1, FF8  and Wipeout 2048. I also have FF9 in my account, but my internet access here in Adelaide is quite poor, and I thought I'd finish these games before trying to put more things on the memory card.

FF1 is great, I never played the NES version, but the PS remake is delightfully polished to perfection. I think I got a few hours under my belt, got the Earth crystal, then couldn't figure out where to go next, and decided to put it aside for awhile.

FF8 otoh is an extremely slow game! It takes ages to load, I find the story really slow, combat takes forever, summoning GF's take forever (I literally could set of 3 GFs in a row, and browse the internet, only to find only 2 of them have their animations complete.)

All that said, it's fine, my main gripe is how cookie-cutter the characters feel. Unlike say, FF6 or 7 where each character feels very different in terms of abilities, I think Squall doesn't really play that much differently from any other character. Fight, Draw, GF, Magic, Item blah blah. I don't feel the individuality of each character.

Sure, each character has custom limit breaks - but I don't think I want to gamble with keeping HP low to get the. The R1 extra attack thing doesn't really help, and it gets annoying when I'm trying to juggle 3 characters, and having to time my R1 presses to the animation.

I just finished Disk 1 today, so hopefully the rest of the storyline will improve.

Wipeout 2048, now that is a marvel. Very polished, and the attention to detail is astounding. I regret having to play it on a small screen like the vita - this game deserves proper glory at 1080p - and higher. The pacing of 2048 is really fast, and with the small screen it's actually difficult to see what's coming up. When in combat races, I find it neigh impossible to see mines or bombs.

I think I've only played the original wipeout before this, so I'm not familiar with the series. Must say the slow-down effects are really well integrated and don't stick out. I am very curious about the loading times though, the game is stored on a vita memory card, and each race takes maybe half a minute, maybe more to load? I would imagine having a memory card would make modern games load near-instantaneously.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Classical Guitar!

Decided to explore the classical guitar this year - supposed to be the viola still but I didn't really get along with it, and I learnt more or less enough of the articulations for my orchestration class. I'm travelling lighter nowadays, and don't have my tripod or music stand with me :-/

The view is not too flattering, and I have to look down at the score. Blargh.

Henley Beach/Nature Recording

Visited Henley Beach yesterday, it's a half-hour-ish ride on the H30 bus from Adelaide's CBD. It's a looong stretch of very nice clean, clear water that was not too busy when I visited. It's relatively quiet compared to Glenelg, which I'm guessing it's because a) public transport there is not so convenient and b) not many shops or things to do. There were only a few establishments just by the jetty, which I so conveniently did not process any photos of. The shot above is made from the jetty anyways.
I decided to wait for the sunset, but instead of hanging around the jetty - which I was rapidly getting bored of - I decided to head down southwards to see what's about (more beach, mainly).
A short walk later, I appeared to hit the sea outlet of the River Torens. Nice! That part of the beach was also very quiet, and I decided to pull out my Zoom H1 and ATR3350 to make some recordings of the surf.
The ATR3350, while quite good for recording my whistles and saxophone, is really not up to the task of recording a far more quieter surf. Even with the Zoom H1's preamps at 100, I had to boost it by crazy amounts in post to hear it. Plus the mic's mono, so there is no imaging.
I actually tried recording waves at Glenelg last weekend with only the Zoom H1. Didn't get much, as it was super windy, and I don't own any dead cats for wind shielding. Yesterday though, the winds were very mild, and I managed to snag a nice amount of surf sounds.
I'm definitely going to go back another day with proper wind protection to get a much longer track :)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Got a hardshell, hmm....

On Sunday, I went down to Glenelg Beach, and I accidentally left my Arcteryx Solano on a park bench >.> 15 minutes or so when I returned, it was missing >.> Can you say, OUCH!

Adelaide is still in the tail end of winter - supposedly - and I am just too spoilt having a softshell that I went looking for another one. Which turned out to be a good thing, as the last two days have been cold and windy with light drizzles yesterday.

But in any case, I was on the prowl for a replacement softshell, and was actually rather tempted to hunt down a replacement Solano as it is a great piece of gear. The Solano has a great fit, ok-ish water repellency and the insides have a *very* thin layer of insulation. It doesn't look too technical, super breathable, and rolls up into a small lump.

Initially, when I was introduced to it, I was hesitant to pick it up due to this thin insulation, but I've found it to work really well in Singapore or Montreal. The Solano in combination with my 5 year old macpac fleece was perfect down to zero C in montreal, and of course is perfect for the winter weather here in Adelaide.

The new shell I picked up is a hardshell, a Mammut Juho. Several things were going for it: It has a Gore-tex waterproof outer layer, the price was good for a gore-tex kit (end of season sale - so it was cheaper than my Solano!), and the styling was not too "omg I go for long hikes in the mountains on weekend". It was also a hardshell, something I've never tried before and the waterproofing _really_ called out to me.

The weather has not been wet enough to put the water proofing to the test, but tests in the kitchen showed that the waterproofing is amazing, with water just shedding off. My previous two softshells (the solano and a mountain hardwear which name I've forgotten) initially had great water repellency, but degraded rapidly. I've tried Grangers on the Solano and it only helped a little. I hope this Gore tex fabric will hold up longer.

Now the thing about the new jacket is... I think it doesn't keep me as warm as the Solano. I'm guessing it might be the Solano having the thin insulation layer, while the Joho is straight up synthetic material on the inside, so when the jacket gets cold it conducts the coolness straight to the fleece, whilst the Solano has the thin insulating layer. I'm also wondering if the windstopper on the solano is more breathable than goretex, so less moisture is trapped - which would keep warmer.

At the moment, it's fine as the "cold" is still above zero, and not a problem. If it's seriously cold I'll probably need a beanie but it's not that cold yet, and this is the tail end of winter here. Things should get warmer soon. It was crazy warm on Saturday, easily hitting 20C++.

I'd write more but it's bedtime. Photos from glenelg and food to post. What's not helping is my internet connection, on a good day, getting 35kb/s is a good thing. I need to look into switching to another isp.