In early March of 2015, I gathered some stunning footage of a Jefferson Salamander crossing a snow patch during its early spring migration to the breeding pond. Shortly after, I put together a video featuring my nicest clips, set against the Bach-Ganoud version of Ave Maria, as played by harpist Cyril Baranov (which I found at pond5.com).
I decided to call my video Snow Trekker, and I remember being quite happy with the result. The only thing missing was an introductory narrated explanation of the natural history behind the footage, plus perhaps some poetic verse sprinkled here and there during the musical portion.
I had hoped to transform my video soon after, but then came a health crisis followed by nearly two years where I focused almost entirely on binaural soundscape recording (culminating in my new app). So, progress on Snow Trekker was delayed … until now.
Last weekend, feeling rather stressed-out after the publication of my app, I decided to focus on something entirely different, so as to give my mind a rest. So why not work up one of my old videos? Searching my archives, I soon stumbled upon Snow Trekker and within minutes I hatched a plan to revise it … and now, just several days later, I’m pleased to publish the result, for all the world to see and hear.
I hope you like my narrated version of Snow Trekker and I’d love to hear what you think of it. So please chime-in below if you have the time and interest. I also have a question that needs answering: “during the snow trek section, is my voice easy to hear against the music, or should the music be lowered a bit?
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Absolutely beautiful in every way.
Fantastic! Everything about this is perfect – the music, your voice, and the video spectacular. Felt like I was traveling along with this spectacular creature.
Wow! Lang, love this video! So cool!!!
Wow! So beautiful and fascinating! Thank you!
Perfection… I love the sound of the wood frogs mixed in.
Just perfect! So beautifully composed it is, the little personality in the cold, the Bach and your lyrics – I love it. I‘m working in the video and music section myself and feel lucky to have found your traces!
Fun to watch! I figured it was a male from the swollen cloaca, and you confirmed that in the comment section. Around here (southwest New Hampshire) Jeffersons hybridize with blue-spots, so most (perhaps 95%) of those we see are females. Were the peepers and wood frogs actually calling at that time, as they were in your sound track? Around here, the earliest Jeffersons move before the frogs start calling.
Al: You correctly noticed that the frog ambience was added! Jeffersons usually move just before the frogs begin calling, but may also move after. When I videotaped the snow trekking, there were no frogs calling (it was a cold, blustery night, though it had been much warmer earlier in the day. I added the sounds to make the soundtrack more interesting. My bad? Or poetic license? Or both combined?
I’ll give you a pass for poetic license! At least those were species that live in the area and call about the same time.
Thank you Al!
Nicely done Lang! And your voice was comfortably audible over the music. For me the return of Jefferson salamanders and their spotted salamander brethren to ponds in spring has taken on almost spiritual dimensions. It is simply spellbinding. Thanks for posting the video.
Thank you Don. The spring migration and breeding “frenzies” are definitely spiritually-infused, at least from my point of view. Such a remarkable event, happening quietly on cool, wet nights, when most people are at home staring at a computer. I’ve tracked this event for so many years now that I’m very good at knowing which nights they’ll be on the move, although early movements of Jeffies are much harder to predict. The night I got the great footage was so marginal that I thought nothing could possibly be happening. But I went out anyway, just for the heck of it,… Read more »
This is the first video of yours that I’ve watched and I really enjoyed it! I learned something, which is always great, and your narration was excellent. The video length was just right, too, and the music adds a nice touch. I have a newfound respect for and interest in Jefferson Salamanders! Can they be found in Florida, too?
Susan: Sorry, but they’re only found in the Northeast.
Hello from Ohio – We also have Jefferson Salamanders in Southwest Cincinnati Region. Blessings, Linda
I love this! Please make more. The photography, narration, and music fit together perfectly.
I can sure guaranteer more videos with narration. The music part is certainly more difficult to pull off because I not only have to find pieces that work, but often license them as well (not practical given that my videos are made and shared for free).
Beautiful!! Your voice is fine in relation to the music.
Thanks Trudy. One woman informed me that she couldn’t hear my words clearly, but perhaps she was listening in a noisy place.
I loved this, Lang. It’s feet look like little hands, determinately grabbing and climbing its way across the icy snow. How could anyone not want to protect these precious creatures?
They are indeed “little hands” … and such long fingers. It’s amazing to watch one move. While many nature lovers don’t know about the Jefferson Salamander (or its relative the Blue-spotted), the widespread Spotted Salamander is quite well known and there are many efforts to protect the species during breeding season, especially at road crossings, where so many get squashed by drivers who are completely unaware they are on the pavement.
I absolutely loved this! Must confess I think salamanders are quite miraculous so I’m a bit biased, I loved everything about this video. Thank you so much for sharing your work, I never miss a podcast!
ah … you’ve reminded me … maybe it’s almost time for another podcast! I’m thinking of doing a post celebrating soundscapes I gathered in Klamath Marsh (sw oregon) in 2017. And then follow it up with a podcast on the same subject.
Exquisite, as always. I don’t know if it is my 75 yr old hearing, or my computer, but I had a very hard time understanding your words against the level of the very beautiful music. So I just enjoyed the beautiful video and the music. What beautiful eyes this little creature has!
Thank you for revisiting this video.
Hmmmm … maybe I should boost my voice a bit. Anyone else have problems hearing it??
That should help–thanks for considering that. I would like to hear the words, also!
It was close competition. Maybe mute the music a bar and up the voice in its place?
On a minus 28F day, this was well received! And you made him seem cute and charming, altho’ i kept thinking about monitor lizards for some reason….
Oh yes … monitors big enough to swallow you whole!
Wonderful, Lang! Thank you!
Glad you like it Betsy. Do they come to your pond out in Willseyville?
And did I say the music was stirring and beautiful, too?
Ave Maria (a la Bach/Ganoud) does go well with the salamander’s motion. It was the only classical piece I was able to find that meshed with the footage. Every other piece I tried sounded horrible.
Great work, Lang! Love the salamander, love the video of it, love the verse you wrote and read.
So the poetry went over okay? My first spiel is good old natural history. My second voice is that of a poet, where anything goes, although there is no guarantee it will go well.
Hello Lang, I don’t usually enjoy watching something snake like slithering about, but this Salamander was a beautiful sight to behold. Along with your chosen music of “Ava Maria” played on the harp, it was a true pleasure. Thank you Lang.
Thank you Rose!
Ahhh, the poetry, music and sexy movements of the salamander ‘looking for his or ? her mate?’.
Yes … a magic formula for sure. In this case, it was a migrating male. Males gather in groups and get excited when females arrive. Males secrete sperm packets (they look like tiny, white-topped mushrooms) that they attach to underwater leaves or sticks. Females pick up sperm from the packets and then go off to lay eggs. As I understand it, a male might consort with a particular female for a short period of time, before moving forward with her following from behind. He then deposits a spermatophore and she passes over it, pulling sperm into her cloaca and into… Read more »
Not much poetry in that sexual encounter, so your efforts were much Better Lang!!
That was so beautiful, Lang!! It was artwork of many forms, so moving. I love how flexible his appendages are. Thank you so much! A real treat!!!
Just wonderful!! Thank you
You’re welcome Lizzy!
Magic going on beneath our unsuspecting noses How wonderful that you have captured one of those moments and share it so beautifully
I was incredibly lucky to get the footage showing the snow trekking. I videotaped it using a small Canon camcorder that I was able to hold near the ground. I relied entirely on autofocus. Many clips were unusable, but I miraculously go enough to take it through the entire musical piece (although, I must confess, I shortened Ave Marie by ten seconds by some editing at the very beginning).
Beatifull amathing vídeo.Bach is Bach.
Yes, Bach is Bach … and I guess Arnold Ganoud took it to the next level. I don’t know much about classical music, but I just read that the original Bach piece was Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C major from the first volume of his collection, The Well-Tempered Clavier. I also read that the Bach/Ganoud version has nothing to do with Schubert’s Ave Maria. The history is actually quite complicated. Check out this enlightening article describing the whole thing:
Beautiful how you combined video, song, and poetry!
Thank you Pamela! It’s an experiment for sure. I may actually spend the coming season focusing primarily on video productions. My binaural soundscape work has been fun, but I sorely need a break from it. Several years ago (before an episode with throat cancer), I was all about cinematography, so it seems fitting that I return to that focus.
Wonderful idea, I look forward to more. Like good art, things like what you do are not appreciated enough.