Beautiful Day for a Train Ride
Sennheiser MKH 60
Boom pole array
We got up early today to drive down to Queenscliff to record some old trains. The Bellarine Peninsula railway is a short tourist railway that is pretty much run by volunteers. They spend their time restoring old engines and carriages and then on weekends they run the trains for the public. Today was a special “Friends of Thomas the Tank Engine” day and so there were going to be lots of people but also a good assortment of vehicles. By getting down there early we could get some material before all the generals public showed up. Anna has started helping me sometimes by taking notes and pictures of things as I record them, I have also been getting her to hold the R09 as a general backup recorder and this has all been really helpful as it means I can race around with the main gear and know that I still have photos being taken and important info being noted down. This makes documenting everything so much easier, and its also a lot more fun having Anna around.
The people at the railway were incredibly friendly and helpful and I got access to the trains in ways I wasn’t even hoping for. We both got to ride in the cabin in an old diesel engine as well as a little steam engine, and I was able to get down really close to the underside of the engines as they were running to capture some excellent material. Everyone was aware of safety and being really careful, but we didn’t have the litigation paranoia that seems to be coming the standard everywhere that prevents most people from doing their jobs properly.
The collection at Queenscliff is quite large and on the day I was able to sample several engines. Two old Diesel engines from Tasmania, (TGR X class 1950 and a VA1950) one from South Australia and a small steam engine that was used in a quarry in the Geelong area. The diesel engines all had very different and distinctive sounds and even different locations on the same engine provided me with very different results. At one stage the X class was idling in a siding and I walked a 360 degree circle around it while recording. The sound changed dramatically as I walked around the engine. This showed me just how complex sound can be when a single vehicle can produce a considerable number of different sounds just depending on where you are standing in relation to it.
I also discovered another benefit to keeping fit and running about 10km every week, as I spent a good 30 minutes running along side some of the engines as they were manoeuvring in the shunting yards. This allowed me to capture longer samples of the engines as they were operating rather than just a “passing” sound as I stood still. There is a bit of a trick to running smoothly so I don’t alter the mics position too much, and I am very thankful for the excellent shock mount that I am currently using as it removes any vibrations as I move. I wouldn’t be able to do this with a quiet sound source as my footsteps would be too audible, but when you are running along side a giant diesel electric driven engine that’s not too much of an issue.
It was quite a warm day, but plenty of sunscreen and a lunch break with awesome chocolate pancakes and plenty to drink made the work easier. Riding in the cabins of the engines was great fun, and the area down at Queenscliff is really beautiful. so in all it was a good way to spend a Sunday as well as being great for recording. The tripod didn't get used today as everything was just far too active for any static microphones.
Bellerine Peninsular Tourist Railroad
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Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences