Whether you're feeling insatiable amounts of wanderlust, or if you're simply hungry for new knowledge, sometimes, there's nothing better than delving into a nature documentary.
And it goes without saying National Geographic's newest documentary, America the Beautiful, is currently at the top of our list.
The series gives viewers a look at all of the vast landscapes, wildlife, and vegetation the U.S. has to offer.
And while watching the film is exciting on its own, we were thrilled to speak with the documentary's cinematographer, Greg Wilson, about what it was like to be behind the camera. But first, take a look at the trailer, below.
Obviously, filming 'America the Beautiful' was an incredible experience.
It's any cinematographer's dream to film a doc for the widely revered National Geographic. And with the opportunity to film a series that captures so many different types of weather, climates, and ecosystems, Wilson says the highly talented team was always kept on their toes.
"It was a tremendous experience — the opportunity to partake in a show that's showing off the beauty of the country I live in, grew up in, and I traveled all around my whole life, with such a great team," Wilson tells us over a Zoom call.
"We feel really lucky to have been involved in this."
Evidently, though, they encountered some extreme weather while filming.
Wilson, who captured all of the documentary's aerial shots in a jet aircraft, says filming with inclement, extreme weather patterns made filming a challenge, at times.
"The prediction of the weather forecasting that goes into this stuff is very extensive," he explains. "[For example], making sure that not only if you have a tornado producing thunderstorm, that it's lit properly by the sun... Or is there a mountain range going to be in the way that's going to block the sun?"
At one point, Wilson tells us, they captured footage of a tornado from above — with the help of meteorologists in the aircraft, for safety precautions.
"We took all the safety measures to make sure that we would be in exactly the right place to be able to get the right pictures and come back safe," he says. "I think overall for me that tornado capture was was the most profound experience I had on the on the trip."
And, of course, capturing the effects of climate change was bittersweet.
Even though filming with National Geographic and Disney+ was a total dream, Wilson notes how upsetting it was to see so much of the damage our planet has sustained from climate change. For examples, the devastating wildfires from summers' past had created quite a bit of damage not only on the ground — but also to the air.
"Almost every mission you could see the results [of climate change]. Fire was a huge factor for us, and fire is not a not a major part of the series. The smoke that we had to deal with from the air, you don't you see on the ground. But as soon as you get to any kind of altitude, we were getting smoke effects from the forest fires in California, even when we were in Florida. It is profound."
Likewise, while speaking with residents in northern Alaskan, the melting ice was also a major topic of discussion.
"We were talking to people working in Alaska on the northern coast, and they were saying that they've never seen the ice melt this early. And that was in March, but the ice was already starting to crack and break open," he explains. "[What you see] from the air can kind of provide a new perspective on what's happening in our in our world."
But ultimately, he hopes to capture footage of the planet now — before its natural beauty is stripped away.
"I think what our goal is, you know, hopefully photograph the whole world before it goes to even more dramatic change than it is already."
Stream America The Beautiful on Disney+ on July 4, 2022.