Thursday, December 15, 2011

Florida's Special Places: Corkscrew Swamp

About four months ago I started a proposal with the help of National Geographic producer Katie Carpenter and director of Audubon Florida Eric Draper to create short HD videos highlighting Audubon's role in protecting Florida's special places. The idea came at the heels of my Florida Bay videos as I began to realize that a great deal of the public has very little clue of what this organization does around the state. We thought that combining interviews with compelling imagery and videography would be a great way to connect to the masses.

October was my first shoot, as it was a time-sensitive issue. Around the second week of that month every year wild sunflowers bloom and surround Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. It's a spectacular sight to see and if we were going to include it in the video we wanted to capture it at its peak.

Jason Lauristen (left) and Adam Chasey roll through a trail of sunflowers at sunrise

Thankfully, Jason Lauritsen the assistant director of Corkscrew was willing to wake up before dawn and pick us up in one of their swamp buggies. This put us up above the sunflowers and offered a really unique perspective that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to get.

I spent the next two days slaving away from dawn until dusk capturing as many close-up and wide angle shots as I could before wrapping it up. The devil is in the details and I'm still learning to think like a videographer. Because we have a set budget I had to treat the assignment like I would never be coming back, so the added pressure helped to keep me shooting all day. A lot goes into these small productions and while digital SLRs are great in that now include high definition video capabilities, there's no limit on the amount of accessories you need to make it fluid. I'm usually a very light traveler (in comparison to some other photographers) because I like staying mobile. No such luck on this trip. My packing list included:

Canon 5d mark ii camera body
Canon 24-105mm lens
Canon 16-35mm lens
Canon 100-400mm lens
Canon 100mm macro lens
Redrock Micro shoulder mount
Manfrotto tripod with fluid head
Manfrotto tripod with ball head
Two Canon external strobes
Rode Videomic Pro
Sennheiser wireless mics
4 Batteries
100gb of flash memory cards
500gb external hard drive
MacBook laptop

And there's still more I've acquired since then! Luckily I drove my truck. Although, the truck didn't help much when I had to schlep most of this gear down the boardwalk all day. I hope you enjoy the video. Feel free to share it with friends. It was edited by Josh Cook in New York and will be the first in several more to come.


  1. Hey Mac! Excellent Job!! I was going to publish my blog post about Corkscreew swamp too :P.

    Can I add the video to my post??

  2. Of course you may! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Hi Mac! Great piece -- and wonderful work on the video. It's gorgeous! Who could watch this video and not want to come to Corkscrew ASAP? Can't wait to see where the next one takes you...