Art in the Outdoors

By: Joshua Tenebaum

This past week I spent a bit of time developing and furthering my blog post project and compiling photographs and field recordings to showcase to the Venture Outdoors community. Liz Fager and Jessica Wiegand both approached me about writing a blog post to be featured on the Venture Outdoors website. I began reading the other posts to determine an appropriate topic and voice for my writing; I decided to write about art and the outdoors. A rather broad topic, I specifically chose to speak about why I make art, my process, and my impressions of nature whenever I venture outdoors. I started collecting brand new field recordings (or audio recordings that are produced outside of a recording studio applicable to natural and human-produced sounds) of soundscapes, chattering wildlife, and human interactions with nature while out on my walks. I use multiple high-powered microphones in addition to a digital sound recorder which captures low-volume, organic frequencies that would otherwise be inaudible or very quiet to the unaided human ear. Camera slung around my neck, I also try to capture simple impressions of the landscape in a way that’s true to both environment and location. Aesthetic of landscape juxtaposed against audio impression leaves room for listener interpretation and imagination to piece together the sum of both audio and visual parts forming a complete dynamic, multi-sensory image in his or her mind. In my blog post, I am including both field recordings and photographs to give the reader a similar experience to what I experience when I’m out on the trail. 

As a kid, I grew up spending much of my time in the outdoors riding bikes, tramping through neighbors’ yards, climbing trees, swimming at the lake, or hiking to the top of Mt. Davis and scrambling around Baughman Rocks. This early love affair with nature shaped my career path and has been a constant reminder of why I love being outside. Nowadays, I spend much of my time outside making art and documenting what I come across in the field both visual and audible – far from the traditional “outdoorsman.” Most of the time, with both camera and sound recorder in tow, documenting and capturing the field is one of my favorite outdoor activities. In this blog post I will discuss the art I enjoy creating while spending time in the outdoors. 

Sunset over the South Park trails; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum 

Insects from the South Park Trails; field recording by Joshua Tenebaum

When I’m on a trail with my field recorder and camera, I feel like I’m just as much a part of the environment as the wildlife and anomalies that I am seeking to capture. The way I walk (or stalk), how my microphones are arranged, my location and duration of stay, and purpose or intent all play a large part into the quality and content of my recordings for that day. There are days when I’ll leave the microphones recording and walk far away for a period of time in order to let the sounds of the natural environment come to life without my interference or even presence. It’s only later when I return to the recording at home that I find what I have captured. 

Pond at Montour Woods Conservation Area; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum 

Amphibians at Montour Woods; field recording by Joshua Tenebaum 

The reason sound and photograph are so interesting to me is that these media retell the story of the environment to people who may otherwise not have the opportunity or physical ability to go outdoors and enjoy everything that nature has to offer. Oftentimes you can hear and see the wonders of nature from your own backyard. The next field recording was taken from my backyard – the sound of motors, wind, and a variety of close and distant birds creates space and dynamics for which the listener can recreate the environment within their heads.  

American Goldfinch in backyard tree; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum

Backyard Bird Calling and Motors; field recording by Joshua Tenebaum

Creating abstract pieces that leave the listener or observer to their own imaginations is far more powerful than trying to reiterate emotion or image through words. 

A favorite field of mine to record at; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum


American Robin; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum

View of the reservoir at the top of Oakland; photograph by Joshua Tenenbaum


Object manipulations; field recordings by Joshua Tenenbaum 


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  • Getting To Know Our Staff: 12 Questions with Ian Brown

    December 12, 2017

    There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into planning your favorite outdoor adventures! Our staff questionnaire series allows you to learn about those who work inside to get you outside.This week we’ve interviewed Ian Brown, our new Program Director.

    1. Briefly tell us about your background: where did you grow up, where did you go to school, and what brought you to Venture Outdoors? 

    Ian Brown Blog 1I grew up in Chillicothe, Ohio, located in the foothills of Southern Ohio. For those who don’t know, Chillicothe is home to the outdoor drama Tecumseh and was Ohio’s First Capital.  

     » Read more about: Getting To Know Our Staff: 12 Questions with Ian Brown  »

  • Expanding Your “Nature Zone”

    December 5, 2017

    By: Amy Camp
    Increasing your comfort levels in the great outdoors

    Life and career coaches, myself included, often work with their clients to recognize and expand their “comfort zones.” Imagine a comfort zone as being a small circle of activities and situations in which you feel safe or comfortable. It’s like a cozy little bubble that can be hard to step beyond. Our comfort zones can be expanded, however, and our lives will be enriched when we challenge ourselves to step out.

    Just beyond the comfort zone is another, larger circle – the “learning zone.” And beyond that is the “danger zone.” (And who wants to go there?

     » Read more about: Expanding Your “Nature Zone”  »

  • Behind the Scenes: Meet Grace

    November 28, 2017

    This week we’re happy to introduce another valuable member of our intern team, Grace Groeger! Grace is a senior at Slippery Rock University majoring in Public Relations.

    Grace Groeger1. What are you currently up to outside of Venture Outdoors? 

    Outside of Venture Outdoors, I’m currently on the big girl job hunt. It’s a scary place out there, but being able to see all the possibilities is so eye opening. Besides that I am preparing myself for a snowy winter to get out and snowboard.  

    2. What brought you to Venture Outdoors? 

    I came across Venture Outdoors just trolling through Indeed one day.

     » Read more about: Behind the Scenes: Meet Grace  »

  • In The Spirit of Thanksgiving

    November 21, 2017


    If you follow us on social media, you know that we’ve been participating in a #30DaysOfGratitude challenge. Every day for the last 21 days, we’ve posted about something or someone that we’re grateful for. What we’ve learned over these three weeks is that we would need an #InfiniteDaysOfGratitude challenge to showcase all that Venture Outdoors is thankful for.

    In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’re continuing with our #30DaysOfGratitude by sharing what the Venture Outdoors staff is grateful for today.


    Sherry and Granddaughter


    “I’m thankful for this little baby doll right here.

     » Read more about: In The Spirit of Thanksgiving  »

  • Lakeside and Treetops

    November 14, 2017

    By: Chrissy Ludwikowski

    As the days become shorter (and the work days seemingly longer), it can be hard for families to make time to be together, and one’s mind doesn’t normally put colder days hand-in-hand with outdoor activities. Fortunately, we live in a city that has opportunities available year-round to invoke our sense of adventure, even during our daily grind (and don’t worry, these adventures will get your blood pumping to keep you mighty warm)!

    Thanks to Venture Outdoors and Kayak Pittsburgh, my family has adopted a love for everything that the outdoors has to offer,

     » Read more about: Lakeside and Treetops  »

Kayak Pittsburgh

Sunset Paddle

Thank you for another great season!
We’ll see you on the water in 2018!


Featured Outing

Friday Night Lights Hike

Friday Night Lights
Friday, December 15
6:30 – 8:30 PM

Join us for a 2-hour hike offering different vantage points of our City’s spectacular skyline. We’ll take in the city-scape while hiking at a moderate pace along sidewalks, up staircases and over bridges.