BBC 'Earth from Space'

Cameras in space tell stories of life on our planet from a brand new perspective, revealing new discoveries, incredible colours and patterns, and just how fast it is changing.

Click here to view series trailer

Click here to view the ‘Colourful Planet’ trailer

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* Ep 1 Wednesday 17 April 9pm BBC One
‘Earth from Space’ Satellites follow an elephant family struggling through drought, reveal previously unknown emperor penguin colonies from the colour of their poo and discover mysterious ice rings that could put seal pups in danger. Using cameras on the ground, in the air and in space Earth from Space follows nature’s greatest spectacles, weather events and dramatic seasonal changes. This is our home, as we’ve never seen it before.

* Ep 2 Wednesday 24 April 9pm BBC One
‘Patterned Planet’ Earth’s surface is covered in weird and wonderful patterns. The Australian outback is covered in pale spots, the work of wombats; a clearing in the endless green canopy of the Congo rainforest has been created by an incredible elephant gathering; and the twists and turns of the Amazon make a home for rehabilitated manatees. 

* Ep 3 Wednesday 01 May 9pm BBC One
‘Colourful Planet’ We think of earth as a blue planet but satellite cameras reveal a kaleidoscope. The astonishing colours of the aurora are towering vertical streaks hundreds of kilometres high; phytoplankton blooms turn the ocean into works of art triggering a feeding frenzy; and for a few weeks a year China's Yunnan province is carpeted in yellow as millions of rapeseed flowers bloom. 

* Ep 4 Wednesday 08 May 9pm BBC One
‘Changing Planet’ At a time when the earth’s surface is changing faster than ever in human history watch cities grow, forest disappear and glaciers melt. In the ever growing grey of cities one man is feeding thousands of parakeets; in Sumatra a female orang-utan and her daughter face life in a forest under threat; while in Tanzania local people use satellites to re-plant a forest, securing the future for a family of Chimpanzees. This is our home as we’ve never seen it before.

Click here for episode details and clips

Click here for The Guardian review

'Living Volcanoes' broadcast in USA - macro topside sequence

Uncover the variety of activity, both human and natural that occurs on the slopes of active volcanoes.

Behind the scenes of ‘Living Volcanoes’ - Ambrym Island, Vanuatu: Join the team of researchers and filmmakers as they share some behind the scenes details from the edge of the Marum volcano:

How Carnivorous Caterpillars Attack Their Prey: Nearly all caterpillars are herbivores, but not this one. Caterpillars on the islands of Hawaii have evolved with claws that are more suited to catching live prey. Watch the clever way they attack their meals. See Mark’s featured macro sequence below:

Mark also shot lava tube caves, underwater manta rays and sync whilst out in Hawaii (August 2018).

Other featured sequences within the programme include:

Volcanic Theory of Water: The origins of water on earth have long been debated. Recent evidence suggests that water was always here, trapped beneath the crust. Volcanoes acted like a tear in the surface of our planet allowing the water to slowly escape as vapor. This condensed in our atmosphere and fell as rain, which eventually turned the planet from barren to blue.
Can Goats Predict Volcanic Eruptions? The unusual behaviour of a herd of goats seems to suggest they may be able to sense when the nearby Mt. Etna volcano will erupt and new research corroborates this suspicion.
Meet One of the Rarest Frogs on Earth: The Quito Rocket frog has been pushed to the edge of extinction. With only around 100 left in the wild, and all confined to a single stream near the Cotopaxi volcano, its survival depends on the help of a team of scientists.

RSPB celebrates 130 Years (1889 - 2019)

The RSPB was formed in 1889 to counter the trade of bird feathers for women's hats in the late Victorian era - 130 years on, the organisation is still working tirelessly through research, partnerships, landscape conservation and policy work to help species recovery.

Read more about RSPB’s history here

Read more about RSPB’s mission here

Formed in 1953, the RSPB Film Unit is the oldest professional wildlife filmmaking organisation in the UK. Since this time the unit has collaborated with many well known camera operators including Hugh Miles, Mike Richards, Ian McCarthy and John Aitchison.

Mark got his first wildlife camera break with the Film Unit based at RSPB HQ in Sandy, Bedfordshire - he shares more details below:

Question: What is your connection to the RSPB Film Unit?

I worked for the RSPB on a couple of placements pre-2000 during my university holidays. The Film Unit were extremely welcoming and I was lucky enough to assist the in-house cameraman at the time on some projects on the Isle of Coll and the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides where we were filming white-tailed sea eagles.

RSPB are still tracking white-tailed sea eagles in Scotland - click here to read more

Question: How did RSPB’s emphasis on conservation help shape your attitude towards the environment and wildlife?

Whilst at university, The Blue Planet (2001) was broadcast and it formed the backbone case study to my dissertation: Why do environmental issues tend to be avoided in BBC blue chip wildlife documentaries? I’m so pleased that 16 years later the Blue Planet II team focused on conservation of the oceans leading to the well documented Blue Planet effect. At last a positive response born out of the bravery to expose issues such as plastic pollution head on. The call to action has got peoples attention and I feel like we are more engaged than ever before - hopefully it is not too little too late, and there is still time to turn things around for our beautiful blue planet.

Question: Which RSPB reserves do you feel especially passionate about and why?

I now live in Selsey, West Sussex - a little fishing village right on the coast sandwiched between RSPB Pagham Harbour and RSPB Medmerry. Up until 2011 Medmerry was low-lying farmland and hundreds of nearby houses (mine included) were under constant threat of flooding. The Environment Agency’s solution was to create the largest flood risk management scheme of its kind ever undertaken in Britain - what they have achieved alongside RSPB is incredible

Read more about RSPB Medmerry here

Read more about RSPB Pagham Harbour here

Mark filming with wildlife presenter and RSPB President Miranda Krestovnikoff.

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Mark and Emily on Working Together

Mark and Emily have now been working together for nine months so we thought it was about time we wrote a blog piece about our experiences so far…

Question:  When (and why) did you start working together?

Emily:
Up until February of this year I was working for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in their Marketing Team based at their Global HQ in Goodwood. I’d built my career over a decade and had worked agency side in London for five years before relocating to the coast in 2013. Mark would be away for five weeks at a time on shoots and I’d be working and travelling too - we were like ships in the night! It was over Christmas that we decided to activate our own ‘Plan A’ which would bring our lives closer together - it required some bold decision making on my part but once we’d talked over all the options it felt like the right time to strike!

Mark: Emily is now a co-director of my business and is working part-time in a Marketing and Business Development capacity. This covers all the behind the scenes activity; shoot logistics, public speaking, press interviews, sponsorship, research / creative development and financial administration. It means that whilst I'm away on shoots these elements can pro-actively be moved forward which is great as it frees up both my capacity to think about my own cinematography and gives me time back to read up on all the latest camera, lens and kit technology.

Question:  For you, how does ‘team work’ manifest itself in your day to day?

Emily:
The two of us are now striving for the same common goal and our life has an renewed flexibility that allows us to spend quality time together when Mark is home between shoots - that change feels like a vital readjustment in order for the two of us to succeed in our married life together.

Mark: I've been striving solo with my career since 2000 and it's now a great feeling to have Emily on-board helping behind the scenes and supporting our shared aims for the future.

Question:  How do you separate work life and personal life?

Emily:
It's hard! Simple things like having a different whatsapp thread for 'work' and 'personal' chat is one way to create some separation. When we’re in the same place, going to the pool for a swim or for a walk by the sea can help mark the beginning and / or end of a working day and that's also a chance to mentally 'down tools' and have some quality time together.

Mark: We're still getting to grips with this element - it's really difficult to strike that perfect balance! You both want to move your business forward and you also want to give your relationship all the time it needs to thrive and ultimately succeed. Sometimes you wish you could be in two places at once but….that’s not possible so, you have to find new ways to make things work both in the present and also on the road ahead.

The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.
— Phil Jackson

Swim England #LoveSwimming Campaign

To coincide with ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ the swimming sector has released the next chapter in the #LoveSwimming campaign encouraging adults, in particular females, to escape the stresses of busy life by making time for a swim at their local pool. Mental health is becoming an increasingly talked about issue and according to the charity Mind, one in four British adults experience a mental health problem in any one year and 80% of mental illness is related to anxiety and depression.

‘Escape’ reflects the extremes of fast-paced modern life and the impact it can have on your mental health, in stark comparison to the unique environment offered by swimming. Swimming provides the ultimate block to external stimuli. The inability to see almost anything except the line at the bottom of the pool and hear nothing but your rhythmic breathing creates the ultimate moving meditation. The film features real women who have seen the positive effects of swimming in coping with their mental health issues.

Mark spent one day with the Swim England team at Marshall Street Leisure Centre in Soho, London filming underwater, topside and with his Phantom4Pro drone for the campaign. See @swimengland on Instagram for additional content.

Meditation and swimming

It was five years ago, as mindfulness started to creep onto the periphery of our collective consciousness that I began to wonder if from what people said about meditation and mindfulness that it described the mind-set I experienced after a swim. I was intrigued to find out if they were the same. Before exploring it, the phrases that I associated with mindfulness and meditation were ‘a clear head’ and ‘reduced stress’. These are things that I can remember starting to notice after swims when I was at secondary school, I’d often work out the answer to something or just feel much calmer. Mindfulness is commonly described as a simple form of mediation or mind training. For me, mindfulness is a way of learning to be aware and observe your thoughts (both good and bad) with the aim of not getting caught up and being non-judgemental about them (some days this is easier than others). It’s a chance to step back, learn more about yourself and how your mind works.

Similarities between swimming and mindfulness
As I become more practised, I discovered that the effects are similar to how I felt after a swim, and for me, it’s due to the two main similarities between both activities:

Breathing
The type of meditation that I learned focuses on breathing and in swimming, breathing is absolutely key. I see this from a coaching point of view, the swimmer who isn’t exhaling properly often fatigues quickly or feels panicky.

Focus on what you’re currently doing
When you swim, there are no other distractions, a rarity in this digital age and we just focus on technique, or times, or the distance we’re swimming i.e. we’re focused on what we’re doing. I’ve found that mindfulness has helped my swimming and swimming has helped my mindfulness, which both in turn help me in everyday life.
— Lucy Lloyd-Roach, Swim England Coach

Mindfulness techniques to try next time you go swimming

Breathing

  • On front crawl you can count and say out loud your breathing pattern into the water e.g. ‘One’, ‘two’, ‘three’. As you say it out loud, you’ll actually exhale into the water.

  • Swim 200m front crawl, breathing every three strokes for the first 50m, breathe every four strokes to the left for 50m, breathe every five strokes for 50m and finally breathe every four to the right for 50m. Aim for a smooth continual exhalation. If breathing every five strokes is too challenging, switch to breathing everything three strokes on the third 50m.

  • Slow it down – focus on long stretched arm and leg movements rather than making your swim a frantic race.

Technique

  • Focus on one key part of your technique, e.g. a strong kick together on breaststroke. As you swim, the brain will start to switch focus to this rather what else it’s been focused on within every day life.

Counting strokes

  • Try counting the number of strokes per length. What do you notice about your technique? Does it feel the same throughout the length? Does it change from the start to the end of your swim?

Marine Wildlife Summer Filming Trip, Pembrokeshire

  • One car full of kit: underwater FS7, tripod and topside set up, drone and slider.

  • Two dives with a colony of seals and one particularly pretty, playful one.

  • Three 04:30 starts to catch sunrise.

  • Four months talking about this trip….one day to plan logistics and prepare.

  • Five glorious boat trips.

  • Six beautiful west coast sunsets.

  • Seven Phantom4Pro explorations early in the morning and at last light.

  • Eight nights at Castle Ely Mill, Whitland.

  • Nine filming days – meeting scientists, making friends, moving gear around and laughing.

What a trip!

  • Zero Otters spotted (despite our best efforts).

  • 1,200 miles on the road.

  • 31,000 gorgeous puffins thriving on Skomer.

  • Thousands of Manx Shearwaters returning to Skomer under the cover of darkness.

  • Too many drinks enjoying sunset over the Atlantic Ocean at Druidstone.

Pea Soup 'Rocket' - Quick Dispersing Smoke Machine FOR SALE

I bought this smoke machine back in 2013 for some automotive work I was doing at the time. This is a great little machine for special effects - in fact, it was used at the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony!  

Standard Features:
* Compact and robust
* Off power capability
* Water based, non-toxic smoke
* Quick dispersing smoke, ideal for special effects
* Controllable smoke, from a small wisp to a large plume
* Sale comes with a remote lead and a selection of smoke fluid aerosols

Specification:
* Product code: PS21R
* Size (cm) (L x W x H):  36cm x 14cm x 20cm
* Weight: 6kg
* Heat exchanger wattage: 1,100W
* Power Supply: 230v, 50/60Hz
* Warm up time from cold: 5 mins
* Duration of aerosol at maximum output: 15 mins approx.
* Smoke output: 0 – 180 m3/min. (6,350 ft3/min.) 
* Operation off the mains power supply: Yes

Image credit: © Mark Sharman (showing the 'Rocket' in use)

Image credit: © Mark Sharman (showing the 'Rocket' in use)

The ROCKET QD which looks and works in the same way as the ROCKET machines produces an even thicker, whiter smoke but which dissipates within a couple of minutes. This machine is mainly used for special effects for smoke that needs to disperse quickly. It's also ideal for photo shoots. By using it with a fan, a superb steam / CO2 blast effect can be created.

I am looking to sell this smoke machine for £350 plus VAT (a VAT invoice will be provided with the sale). The goods are located in West Sussex, so can either be picked up in person or sent in the post at cost. If posting, Quick Dispersing smoke fluid aerosols can be brought directly from Pea Soup (smoke machine specialists).

Please contact myself or Emily directly if you would like to purchase this item or have any questions. 

Best wishes, Mark

Mark | Emark@sharmancam.co.uk

Emily | T: +44 (0)7876 694477 | Eemily@sharmancam.co.uk

Mark tells us more about his experience with the new Fujinon Lenses

Question: What shoot have you recently taken the Fujinon lenses on?

I’m just back from the Bahamas where I was working on a Shark Week shoot for Discovery. I was filming topside and drone from a boat for the duration, so camera and lens choice was key. My pair of E mount Fujinon lenses (MK18-55mm and MK50-135mm) were the natural choice together with my Sony FS7 as they are the perfect match especially for this type of job

Question: Tell us more about why the Fujinon lenses were a great fit for this shoot?

The production wanted to achieve a cinematic look and feel using a shallow depth of field throughout. So, shooting wide open at T2.9 I was able to achieve some very pleasing results with the actuality. We filmed a large portion of the footage into the night (under the boats minimal lighting) so, in this environment with these lenses I was still able to expose the contributors effectively

Question: What USPs specific to the Fujinon lenses do you find most impressive?

As well as ‘the look’ I wanted to achieve an additional consideration for the on-the-shoulder sync filming is the overall weight of the camera. So, with each lens weighing in at 0.9kg (which is incredibly light weight for such a lens) it makes for a much more comfortable set up; a hugely important factor when you’re working across the length and breadth of a boat for long hours, into the evening

Question: How did you utilise the full range of the two Fujinon lenses whilst on location?

The 18-55 is great for general sync shots and actuality; wide enough to get establishes and two shots and tight enough for pushing in for close ups and details. When it comes to shooting with another member of the camera team the 50-135 is perfect for close up reactions
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"Animals with Cameras" with Gordon Buchanan

Final Episode on BBC One: Thursday 15 February 8pm
Devil Rays in the Azores

In this three-part series, wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan collaborates with scientists in the field to attach cameras onto animals in the wild. On their journey, which takes them to all corners of the globe, they uncover unexpected findings about the lives of some of the planet's most captivating species.

Presenter Gordon Buchanan and Devil Ray researcher Jorge Fontes

Presenter Gordon Buchanan and Devil Ray researcher Jorge Fontes

Mark spent one week filming for the Devil Ray sequence (Episode 3/3) on the Princess Alice Sea Bank in the Azores during August 2017.

Gordon, Mark and the Crew in the Azores.

Gordon, Mark and the Crew in the Azores.

The team set out to discover why vast numbers of Devil Ray gather every summer near the Azores archipelago in the mid-Atlantic. The team successfully deployed specially designed cameras which towed behind the rays, these in turn witnessed wildlife spectacles seen for the first time including 'sun-bathing' ray at the surface reheating after a cold dive and unborn ray pups kicking inside their giant, four-meter-wide mothers; a sign that this congregation might be a breeding ground for these majestic ocean giants.

Devil Rays are fascinating creatures – they are some of the fastest and deepest divers in the ocean, and swim with such elegance. When they are not feeding, their cephalic fins are curled and point forward and down, giving the appearance of devil horns; hence their name.
— Mark Sharman, Cameraman
Mark's topside camera set up in the Marina da Horta, on the island of Faial, Azores.  Panasonic Varicam LT,  Canon CN-7 17-120mm lens.

Mark's topside camera set up in the Marina da Horta, on the island of Faial, Azores.  Panasonic Varicam LT,  Canon CN-7 17-120mm lens.

Devil Rays are under threat from fishing, boat traffic, habitat decline and pollution and are currently listed as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List. Although not usually targeted by fisheries, Devil Rays often become victims as bycatch. The good news is that Project AWARE have already made a positive impact to help protect Devil Rays.

Legendary Azorean Captain, Norberto Serpa was the expedition leader.

Legendary Azorean Captain, Norberto Serpa was the expedition leader.

Other wildlife events captured within this three-part series include fascinating insights into penguins catching their prey 200 miles off the coast of Argentina and fur seals avoiding attacks from great white shark off Australia. Further details and clips are available at BBC online.

Reviews:

The Telegraph 'Culture' Review 4/5 Stars

The Express

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Episodes 1, 2 and 3 are available on BBC iPlayer until February 2018.

The crew Mark worked with on the shoot:

Matthew Andrews, Field Director; Mark Roberts, Sound Recordist; Nuno Sá, Underwater Cameraman.