Great egrets (????) and grey heron (????) with reflection from Yasugawa Ohashi (Japan Route 8)

Video: Yasugawa at Deba

Yasugawa egrets and herons, black kites, crows, and cormorants at Deba, Ritto City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Shot with 200mm and 300mm Olympus (manual) lenses and an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk. II camera. on August 9 & 10, 2015. Music: Stargazers Pt. 1 by Ben Timm, The Official Karian. License: Creative Commons Attribution.

Cormorants (カワウ), great egrets (ダイサギ), and other birds

Cormorants (カワウ), great egrets (ダイサギ), and other birds

Cormorant (カワウ)

Cormorant (カワウ)

Great egret (ダイサギ) in Yasugawa at Deba

Great egret (ダイサギ) in Yasugawa at Deba

Grey heron (アオサギ)

Grey heron (アオサギ)

In early August the river was full of small fish, and several species of predators were feeding together upstream from the Japan Route 8 bridge, Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋). It was great fun to watch cormorants, herons, and two species of egrets as they hunted near each other. Egrets sometimes bullied each other, and now and then a Japanese black kite appeared. Although they don’t appear prominently in the video, a lot of crows were also on gravel banks near the river.

Hardware: Shot with 200mm and 300mm Olympus (manual) lenses, Kenko polarizing filters on an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera. I used a Velbon Sherpa 545 II tripod and a D-65 fluid head.

Software: Audacity (audio), digiKam (photos) and OpenShot (video) on a Lenovo ワークステーション ThinkStation S-20 running Fedora Workstation.

Note on timing: The day after I shot the last video clip I checked into a nearby hospital (済生会 滋賀県病院) for an inguinal hernia operation, which I had late afternoon on August 12th. I was released from the hospital on Friday, August 14th. The doctor and nurses told me to take it easy for a while, so I did post-production work until today, August 16th. In a few days I should be able to walk to the river again, hopefully with my camera. I’m really looking forward to getting outdoors again, this time with a healthy body!

Fireworks, a large red, green, and white spherical firework above a river

Yasugawa Fireworks – 野洲川花火大会 – 2015

Our local summer fireworks festival – 野洲川花火大会 – was held on July 25, 2015. Hundreds of people lined the riverbank along Yasugawa Sports Park to watch a 30-minute display of fireworks over the river. Many arrived in late afternoon, lined up to buy food and beverages, and enjoyed some entertainment before the fireworks began at 19:45.

Before the fireworks began I found a location upstream from the main event area, where I could record in peace away from the crowds. First I set up my tripod and tried different lenses with my camera, an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. I selected an Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens for its focal length, wide aperture, and wonderful manual focus capability.

Yasugawa Ohashi

I wanted to capture high-quality audio, so I mounted an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone with a Baby Ball windscreen and a Windjammer and a Tascam DR-70 four-track audio recorder on my camera tripod. The camera was mounted on the Tascam recorder and received input from the recorder. I made a four-track dual stereo recording with the secondary tracks recorded at -12dB. This proved useful at first, when the mic gain was set to High. After a few minutes I set mic gain to Low with the recording level knobs at about 11:30. This worked well, although I had to stop recording in order to change mic gain because the Tascam recorder does not have a hardware switch for mic gain.

After minimal post processing with only trimming and overall level adjustment, I posted the finale (05:30) on SoundCloud:

The recording location can be seen on a map at radio aporee ::: maps – Yasugawa Fireworks.

Although I concentrated on video, I also took a few still photos. I tried about 2-8 seconds at various apertures with ISO 200. Some long exposures worked well, but timing can be tricky!

Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

More photos can be seen in my Flickr album, Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

White butterfly with wings up to right, facing left on a flower with white petals and large yellow center.

Butterflies in Late June

June and early July is Rainy Season in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Many days are gloomy, but now and then the sun appears. The countryside is very green, with rice plants growing in nearby fields and wild vegetation everywhere. Many kinds of insects and spiders appear.

This June I often went outdoors with a macro lens and took photographs to add to my Flickr album Bugs and other small creatures. Along with bees, beetles, flies, and spiders, I found five species of butterflies.

Common copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas, ベニシジミ)

Common copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas, ベニシジミ)

Common copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas, ベニシジミ)

Common copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas, ベニシジミ)

Silver-studded blue butterfly (Plebejus argus, ヒメシジミ)

Silver-studded blue butterfly (Plebejus argus, ヒメシジミ)

Silver-studded blue butterfly (Plebejus argus, ヒメシジミ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys,モンキチョウ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys,モンキチョウ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys,モンキチョウ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys,モンキチョウ)

Gray-veined white butterfly (Pieris melete, スジグロシロチョウ)

Gray-veined white butterfly (Pieris melete, スジグロシロチョウ)

Gray-veined white butterfly (Pieris melete, スジグロシロチョウ)

Gray-veined white butterfly (Pieris melete, スジグロシロチョウ)

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハ)

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハ)

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハ)

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハ)

Technical note

All of these photographs were taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II camera and an Olympus M. Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens.

Notogawa Suisha (large waterwheel)

Notogawa Suisha Video

Notogawa Suisha is an old waterwheel (actually two waterwheels) in Higashi-Omi, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. The site includes a small park, a little museum, and a boat rental facility. This quiet park, about 30 kilometers from my home, is one of my favorite places.

Notogawa Suisha (small waterwheel)

Notogawa Suisha (small waterwheel)

Video was recorded with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 II. Audio was recorded in the camera with input from an Audio Technica BP4025 stereo microphone and a Tascam DR-70D recorder. Music, “Love Story (piano),” is by Sławomir Zając. I edited the video with OpenShot on a Lenovo ThinkStation 20 running Fedora GNU/Linux.

You can hear the large waterwheel and see the location on a map in my previous post, “Sounds of Notogawa Suisha.”

Lake from about 15 meters above on shoreline, framed by tree branches and leaves, fog-covered mountains across the lake, audio recorder and microphone on a tripod in the foreground on the right.

Sounds of Aircraft and a Boat at Lake Biwa

A small airplane and a fishing boat recorded from the shore of Lake Biwa along Shiga Route 25 in Okishima-cho, Omihachiman City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan (map).

We can hear gentle waves on the nearby shore, but internal combustion engines dominate this otherwise quiet environment. Other human sounds include a jet aircraft high overhead and two cars that pass along the road just a few meters behind the microphone.

On June 8, 2015, the morning I made this field recording, I had intended to record the calls of birds in a quiet location along the shore of Lake Biwa. The shoreline between Chomeiji and People’s Holiday Village is one of the few places along the lake that see little car traffic and few personal watercraft, especially on weekdays. The main difficulty is parking. There are only a few wide spots to park a car along along the road. At the first place I stopped I could hear a Japanese bush warbler and other small birds, but men were working nearby. At a few other locations I could not hear any birds.

Side view of an audio recorder and microphone on a tripod in front of a large tree and some bushes.

Field recording at Biwako along Shiga Route 25 in Okishima-cho, Omihachiman City.

When I arrived at the spot where I recorded, I heard one Japanese bush warbler. Hoping the the bird would continue to call, I set up my recording equipment facing the mountain along the road. The bird did not call again, but I heard a fishing boat on the lake. Just after I turned the microphone toward the lake and began to record, aircraft and boat engines overwhelmed the delicate sounds of waves hitting the shore below my location.

My visual and auditory experiences in rural Japan are so incongruous that often I feel betrayed by my eyes. Places that appear peaceful and quiet may suddenly be dominated by the sounds of machinery that people use for work or leisure activities. It is easy to understand why rural Japan is the scene of so many beautiful photographs and so few field recordings. Peaceful soundscapes are extremely difficult to find.

Recorded with an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone and a Tascam DR-70D recorder on June 8, 2015. You can see the map location and hear the first three minutes of the audio on radio aporee maps (Okishimacho, Omihachiman, Shiga Prefecture 523-0801, Japan).