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: 15 Questions with… Karen Wood

    October 10, 2017

    There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes brain power that goes into planning your favorite programs, be it public, family-friendly, or custom outings. Learn about those who work inside so you can get outside.

    This week we’ll be interviewing Karen Wood, our shared Chief Financial Officer.

    Karen Wood 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?

    I grew up in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA. After college (at William & Mary in Williamsburg), I moved to Eugene, Oregon in the mid 80s where I started my first accounting job and became active in various environmental causes.

     » Read more about: Getting to Know Our Staff: 15 Questions with… Karen Wood  »

  • Women On the Water: My first adventure with Venture Outdoors

    October 3, 2017

    By: Grace Groeger, Communications Intern


    I decided to hit the ground running and just dove into any program with an opening my first week with Venture Outdoors. I started scrolling through the activities calendar and saw an opening for Women on the Water (WOW), and I thought to myself, that’s the one I’m doing. I couldn’t be more excited about signing up for my first program; my friends were sick of me already for bragging about how awesome my internship is only a week in.

    There I was bright and early down in Pittsburgh on the home opener for the Steelers trying to find parking.

     » Read more about: Women On the Water: My first adventure with Venture Outdoors  »

  • Put-in-Bay, An Island Getaway in your Back Yard

    September 26, 2017

    By: Jacob Tumminello

    Put-in-Bay is a small village located on South Bass Island just north of Sandusky, Ohio. The town was constructed in 1830 and originally named for only the bay in Lake Erie. Although the name may imply a man-made creation, the islands were naturally created by the geographic evolution of the earth. I had the privilege of exploring this strange little island getaway on a trip with my family and was surprised by how much there is to do in such a condensed place.

    Sunset Put In Bay

    After stepping off the ferry that took us from Sandusky to the island,

     » Read more about: Put-in-Bay, An Island Getaway in your Back Yard  »


    September 19, 2017

    Summer Tree ID

    By: Samantha Sektnan, Communications Intern

    Attending the “Summer Tree ID” program was a great way to start off being a part of the Venture Outdoors community. Taking an easy stroll in Frick Park as we learned tips and tricks to identify the trees around us was something I never imagined myself doing before joining this organization, but I am definitely glad I did it. As someone with literally had zero knowledge on how to identify trees, local ecologist Henry Schumacher – who led the trip – had a lot of work on his hands in order to teach me the basics..


  • Venturing Outdoors: How I Learned to Appreciate Nature by Working at Kayak Pittsburgh

    September 12, 2017

    By: Alexander Downing

    Since August 2014 I’ve worked as an attendant at Kayak Pittsburgh’s North Park location. This means I’m one of the smiling faces in the green shirts pushing boats into the water and handing out PFDs and paddles. It also means I get to look out on the beautiful North Park Lake for hours on end. As it turns out, that’s been the most memorable part of the job and the catalyst for a change in how I view nature.

    As a kid, the primary role nature played in my life was as the location for sports.

     » Read more about: Venturing Outdoors: How I Learned to Appreciate Nature by Working at Kayak Pittsburgh  »

Kayak Pittsburgh



Our North Shore and North Park locations are open weekends only in October.

Featured Outing

Romeo and Juliet Hike
Saturday, October 28
5:00 – 10:30 PM

Calling all theater lovers! Join us for an evening of two adventures! We’ll start with a hike through Oakland and a pizza dinner from 5pm -7pm followed by a production of Romeo and Juliet presented by Pittsburgh PICT Classic Theatre. Price includes the hike, dinner and show ticket.