Introducing the Yeti Research Explorer Series. The Explorer Series, is an in-depth look with our Explorers and their adventures. First, we head to the Great Dismal Swamp with Explorer Peter Squicciarini. Enjoy!
After the holidays, Yeti Research Explorer, Peter Squicciarini aka @streeterpeter, was able to get back behind the lens and do what he does best....capture epic moments. Pete is from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and currently resides in Norfolk. His positive attitude and pursuit of new experiences and adventures is why we are stoked to have him apart of the Yeti Research family.
His first research mission for 2016: Expose the Great Dismal Swamp in all it's glory. The Great Dismal Swamp, now a wildlife refuge, is 112,000 acres of untouched marsh extending between Norfolk, VA to Elizabeth City, NC. Some claim that back in the day (1800s), the original swamp was estimated to be 1,000,000 acres in size of forest wetlands.....gnarly! With everything in the world being overdeveloped, this refuge serves as protection for these wetlands and it's wild inhabitants. The Great Dismal Swamp is raw and mysterious....just how we like it.
I finally got a chance to catch up with Pete and see what this whole adventure was about. If you thought this place was killer from what I've told you, check out the documentation and interview:
"Swamp Research" with @streeterpeter
Billy Research: "Pete, what's good homey? Being that you live near the beach, have all that coastline, and a shit ton of insane locations to shoot photography from....what inspired you to pick out a place such as a swamp? I mean, what's so crazy about this place?"
@streeterpeter: "Yeah Billy, we have a ton of water around Hampton Roads. And that definitely creates a lot of spots to shoot, but a lot of it is developed and not ideal for night sky photography. I became interested in the Great Dismal Swamp when I saw that it was very dark on a light pollution map. From there, I just started researching it. Looking at photos and trail maps, and ultimately taking a day time recon mission to see it in person. Once I got to Lake Drummond, I knew it was gonna go down."
Billy Research: "Epic. I know you reside in the 757....and recently, that area has been getting dumped on with a ton of rain with cloudy skies. Since this was a recent trip, how critical did timing of the weather factor in when planning this strategic strike to the swamp?"
@streeterpeter: "For sure. We have had pretty awful weather lately, especially for shooting stars. Its either been cloudy or raining for about the last month. Conditions are everything in photography. When you plan around weather and light, you set yourself up for success. About a week out, I saw one day and night was forecasted to be clear, and I knew this was my chance to get out there. It also just happened to line up with a late moon rise, so it was even darker."
Billy Research: "That's rad! And I love how you pre-planned that strike with the weather. I do the same shit when surfing or snowboarding....barrels and pow pow! Ok...ok, next question. Dude, so I've heard the Great Dismal Swamp is very raw and at times, very hard to access. What were some of the challenges from an accessing point of view and how difficult was it to pick out ideal spots to shoot?
@streeterpeter: "This place is straight undeveloped. Its not like your average state park with trails all over. Its a swamp, with only two trails. And bears. And beavers. And old ass big trees. It looks like Jurassic park in there. Its crazy. But anyways, I had to see both accesses to the lake to decide which one would be better to shoot. Trail 1 was 6 miles that you could drive in the daytime. Trail 2 was 4 1/2 miles that you can walk or bike. I ended up choosing Trail 1, only problem was you can't drive it at night. So we took had to take mountains bikes in. 12 miles round trip with temps one the 30s was no joke...."
Billy Research: "That's crazy bro, I had no idea....hope you had some YRC gear to keep you warm, haha! So look, by now you've found your spot in the swamp and you're posted up ready behind the lens. And please forgive me if I don't sound like a photographer here....but by the look of some of your captures, it seems as if you have a knack for really capturing the stars and balancing the contrast over the water and surrounding features. Without giving out any secrets, how do you approach getting a shot as unique as the ones on this trip, furthermore, all your photos? I mean there must be a ton of variables that go into play here, right?"
@streeterpeter: "Yeah dude. There are a ton of factors and things to consider. My shot planning really starts the second I see a location in person. Im looking at different compositions. Different subjects and perspectives. I typically will work my way around a location, shooting from many different angles. Im also looking at the compass to manipulate how stars will move during a star trail shot. I just try to get creative, try new things. Some work, some don't. Its all part of research…."
Billy Research: "Damn right! And for my final question Pete. A lot of times, people have a moment of nostalgia and self-fulfillment when exploring out of their element or comfort zone, as you did in this case. Did you ever have one of those moments that night in the Great Dismal Swamp? If you did, can you elaborate on that experience?"
@streeterpeter: "Yeah dude I live for nights like that. When we got there, Me and my boy (@7lobo) got there, laid our bikes down, looked up at the sky and just didn't say a word. We were in awe of the swamps beauty and desolation at night. It is super rewarding to have all of your research, planning, and time come together in the way you intended. Also, getting out of your comfort zone and going into mainly unexplored areas is a rush. I looked all over the internet for night time photos of the swamp and they just weren't out there. Being the first that I know of to shoot this location at night is pretty cool. Its like going into uncharted territories. Creativity, progression, self growth and improvement, adventure…. Those are the things that push me as a photographer and as a person…."
Well, there you have it.....The Great Dismal Swamp has been exposed! Peter's excursion into the swamp was epic to say the least and we are pumped to be the ones to feature this Research Mission. For now, it's on to the next destination. Make sure to follow Peter on Instagram for amazing photos and experiences at @streeterpeter. We look forward to seeing what else he has up his sleeve in the future.
Until next time, signing off.....
*** All photos taken by Peter Squicciarini @streeterpeter ***