Filmed Interview with Fujifilm

During this short interview Mark talks about the joys and complexities of filming a wide array of wildlife from the biggest mammals underwater to the smallest insects in macro. He shares anecdotes of filming in diverse and challenging locations from the Arctic to desert, jungle and open ocean and the privilege of working alongside scientific contributors from around the world who fly the flag for global conservation. Mark provides insights into his preferred lighting and camera set ups including the Gates Pro Explore housing for underwater and Fujinon MK cine zoom lenses for a light weight cinematic glass option topside.

Fujinon Cine Zoom Lenses


World’s First Footage of a Sperm Whale Hunting Squid

A sneak preview of a new series coming to Animal Planet - This discovery on a recent filming trip to Dominica was too good to wait until the multi-part series broadcasts in 2020!

World’s First Footage of a Sperm Whale Hunting Squid:

Researchers use suction cups to attach a special camera to this female sperm whale, then witness her dive down 3,000 ft and echolocate with intense clicking, as she successfully hunts down a squid.

Very proud to have been in the team filming this discovery!

'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.

Freedive Qualification (open water up to 20m)

This programme provides you with the training and knowledge required to safely freedive with a buddy in open water environments to depths of 20 meters
— divessi.com

The Freedive from Beginning to End (SSI Visualisation)

The Freediver rests face down in the water, breathing through the snorkel. Slow methodical movements and relaxation breathing prepares the mind and body for the calming effect of the dive reflex, which is starting to lower the heart rate. The Freediver begins the breathe-up, remembering to draw in and hold the last breath, removes the snorkel from the mouth and then pressurizes the middle ear. Tucking into the duck-dive position, the Freediver then moves down through the water column while regularly equalizing the airspaces in the body and mask. The finning style should be perfected. Kicking from the hip with straight fluid strokes the Freedive has now begun.

The diver should be perfectly weighted for the conditions and depth. This stage of the Freedive is the free fall. The finning has stopped as the Freediver moves down through the water column powered by the kinetic energy of the previous fin kicks. Blood shift is starting to take effect. The heart rate has slowed and the blood is shifting from the limbs to the core (Mammalian Dive Reflex). When the target depth is reached the bottom time begins. At this point, the diver should be relaxed and in total awe of the ocean’s depths.

We have explored the depths and our time underwater has taxed the oxygen in our body. The by-product of this process (CO2) is starting to stimulate the urge to breathe and we know it is time to surface and refresh our body and mind. We ascend much like we descend, deliberate finning from the hip making our way toward the surface. Upon reaching the surface we perform recovery breathing, we give the OK sign and continue to breath slow deep and deliberate as we reflect on our time underwater and now watch our buddy enjoy their dive into the deep.

This is what Freediving is all about — safe, exhilarating, addictive fun.

I love the meditative quality of freediving and the freedom and peace that you feel underwater. I’ve always felt ‘at home’ by the sea and in the water and it’s been fascinating to understand more about the theoretical side of this skill - especially learning more about our Mammalian Dive Reflex: a set of miraculous physiological responses that trigger as soon as you put your face in cold water. ‘The Waterside Ape’ is well worth a listen to hear more about our aquatic capabilities...
— Mark Sharman, Underwater Cameraman

Click here to listen to BBC Radio 4’s two-part documentaryThe Waterside Ape’ in which Sir David Attenborough considers whether new evidence will help a once widely ridiculed theory of human origins: the notion that some of evolution is explained if we accept that we grew up around lakes, rivers and seashores (rather than on the dry, savanna plains of Africa). Two episodes each 42 minutes long - first broadcast 14/09/2016.

© Fotolia

© Fotolia

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.