Last fall we spent our vacation in Cyprus, Greece. We never stayed in a beach resort before and thought it might be worth a try. But after a couple of days I got terribly bored hanging out in the compound all the time so I started to explore the surrounding area. The resort was located in some kind of suburban place with large undeveloped parts of land - kind of interesting but not really pretty. But here and there where patches of high grown bamboo, rustling gently in the cypriotic autumn breeze.
There wasn't much surrounding noise, no traffic, no people - it was a pretty decent setting for recording the bamboo. The only problem was the gear - or lack thereof.
Like every vacation I brought my Sony PCM D-50 handheld recorder with the little windbreaker. But the fur sits pretty tightly on the mics so it can't really shield stronger gusts. And the bamboo was quite high so I couldn't reach to the top leaves that looked particularly promising to record. In short, I needed a wind shield and a boom pole.
The following days I looked around the little shops and supermarkets for inexpensive items that could be misused for that purpose. My initial thought was to use material like a broomstick and a metal coat hanger and bend that to some kind of spherical rig. Inside that rig I might be able to strap the recorder in place with rubber bands, pretty much like a professional mic suspension. But I didn't even have pliers to work the thick coat hanger wire.
Funny enough, the solution I ended up with came from the subject itself: bamboo. Bamboo is perfect for making all kinds of things, especially pole and basket type things. All you need is a knife and some thin rope. I picked a dry, long and straight piece and started from there. It was a real joy to work with this fascinating material and it was perfect for the job. Very light and sturdy when you leave it in its natural tube form, but flexible and versatile when you split the tube up along its fiber. All the joins and connections could be easily tied with rope. And that rope and some hair ties where actually the only items I had to purchase.
After a short time I had a pretty long pole with some kind of balloonish basket type thing at one end. Inside that basket where four hair ties that held the recorder. I wrapped a thin, soft scarf around it as the actual wind shield. There was no audible high frequency attenuation caused by it and it shielded the wind pretty nicely. The only major drawback of that setup was that I didn't have a remote control for the recorder, so I had to put it into record before wrapping the scarf around. But I guess that's a small price to pay.
The following days I wandered around, looking a bit like a guy hunting for butterflies or maybe even more esoteric things. But sticking out of the crowd is probably something that all sound recordists need to be cool with.
And I came home with some decent recordings of bamboo and palm trees in the wind. I thought for a sec if I should bring the thing back home with me as a souvenir. But than I decided that it's perfectly fine to leave it behind - a little bit like a rescued castaway who leaves behind all the makeshift tools he made, because he has the real ones at home.