Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sound Bites

Early in January, before my shoulder decided to dislocate itself, I was playing goal in a hockey game with a group of guys I don't normally play with. It was a casual game so someone decided to put on music over the rinks speaker system. The music was not my taste at all, but the worse part was the volume. It was so loud I couldn't communicate with my teammates effectively. I didn't realize until then how much I relied on sound when I play goal, not just to communicate, but to react to the development of the play. I realized that I used sound much like a fish uses vibration to find prey, by listening to sound of the skates and sticks on the ice or the sound of their movement in my blind spot. With the volume of the music, I felt I was at a tremendous disadvantage.
The Rochester area has a large population of hearing impaired individuals. Even though the music was loud and I could hear more than I wanted to, it almost had the same effect of being hearing impaired by removing my ability to use that sense during the game. Even though it was only for a short period of time, I found myself adapting to make up for that loss.
I started thinking about other areas of my life that relied more on sound then I realized. The first thing that came to mind, which was no surprise, was how much I used sound while I am driving. Listening for other things in my surroundings while driving, such as other cars or emergency vehicles is a given. I'm referring more to the things you don't notice you're listening to like changes in road conditions by the sound of the tires or my shift points based on engine noise. Last summer, I accelerated from a light next to a truck with my windows open. My shift points were way off because I couldn't hear my engine.
Photography is no doubt seen as a visual medium. I began to wonder how much of a role sound played while I'm photographing. Much like playing goal, photographing in a fast paced environment such as sporting events makes use of all your senses, especially sound. But what about something a little less intense like a wedding? I'm going to be more aware of it now to see how much I use it other than to avoid being trampled on the dance floor by a long lost aunt who had one too many cocktails at the open bar.

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