Behind the Lens: Finding Serenity Among Costa Rican Orchids
A serene paradise awaits for any traveler intent on making the journey to the Garden of Orchids in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica.
Silversea Expedition Filmmaker Benn Berkeley filmed this oasis of calm while traveling aboard the Silver Explorer, but he wasn’t initially enchanted by the allure of this stop-off on the itinerary. However, as soon as he stepped off the zodiac, he quickly changed his mind.
“You have the things you’re really excited about in the itinerary but I’m not a flower enthusiast and the Garden of Orchids wasn’t on the top of the list,” he says. “But it completely blew my mind – the setting was just insane.
“You arrive into a jungle in the middle of nowhere, then there’s this utopia, a paradise. A couple have been there for about 30 or 40 years and set up this garden of very rare flowers. It’s incredibly beautiful, colourful and vibrant without being overly manicured.”
Botanical beauties explained
Luckily Benn had botanist Chris Bialek on hand to explain the fascinating lives of plants on show here, one of them being the largest flower in Costa Rica, the Aristolochia.
“Chris Bialek brought everything to life and put everything into context, so I followed him around and asked him loads of questions with the guests as he was explaining,” adds Benn. “He’s enthusiastic, super knowledgeable and it really lifted the entire experience up a notch just to have that understanding of what you’re looking at.”
When it came to filming this idyllic garden on his Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Benn wanted to convey the calm atmosphere in his film while adding some movement to his static subjects.
“As soon as I stepped foot there it was a very tranquil, relaxed atmosphere. It’s really quiet, so if you’re not talking you’re listening to birdsong or the gentle lapping of water coming up from the beach. It’s just lovely and calm.
“I wanted to try and create movement and flow throughout the whole film, so most of the clips are moving as it’s this flowing [journey] through the garden,” he says.
As sunlight peeked through fronds of greenery, Benn used a lower aperture to film this shady setting and hone in on the unique blooms around every corner.
“For the dark and shady parts it’s very much about stopping down on your lens and just opening it up as wide as possible. The issue with that is the shallower depth-of-field, but that actually works well because you’re focused on a flower which brings it right out from the background and makes it pop.”