Sugaring in Vermont

How does the small state of Vermont lead the country in maple sugar production with competitors the size of Wisconsin and New York?

Maple sugaring is an ancient method of extracting sugar from the Sugar Maple Tree, taught to the early colonial settlers by the native Americans. The art of sugaring has been practiced and perfected on family farms for generations.

But Vermonters, with their Yankee ingenuity, are not satisfied by continuing the tradition in the ways of their forefathers. Vermont sugarmakers are embracing the latest technologies in producing maple syrup to get the most out of a very short and unpredictable season. Through research at the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center, the collection of sap from the sugarbush has greatly improved in quantity as well as the continued qualitative improvement and preservation of the sugarbush. With technological advances in the design of evaporating equipment from Leader Evaporator in Swanton, Vermont, turning that sap into syrup has become more efficient.

In this short educational documentary I will walk you through the sugaring process and how it has improved over the last couple of decades.

Created using a trial version of Adobe Premier Pro. First Published May 6, 2013.

The thing that most fascinates me now about video production is the transition from one clip or scene to the next. What raw material were they working with? How many times did they film that? It sounds like a continuous conversation! But, wait! The audio from the first clip continues over the video transition into the next. How does it come out so clean?

First Published April 1, 2013.

Maple Tree

As the days grow longer we anxiously anticipate the coming season. Spring? No!

Life Cycle of a Maple Tree

Life Cycle of a Maple Tree

Sugaring season! For a few short weeks when the days are above forty degrees and the nights still below freezing the maple sap begins to run. And when will this happen? We can only wait and see. The farmers get the sap buckets and the sap lines prepared, tap the trees in the sugarbush and stock the sugarhouse with firewood. Then they will wait until those first few drops of sap start to collect. We will have to wait in suspense until we see the sweet steam rising from the sugarhouse to know that it is here.



Tapping for Sap

Tapping for Sap



My idea was to capture the tension and anticipation of the thick syrup pouring. I also wanted to capture the light coming through the golden sweet liquid, and possibly to highlight the differences in grades of syrup. I employed the tool of the tension vs. resolution in the cold winter tree in the snow and the eventual product of warm maple syrup. I wanted to capture the life cycle of the sugar maple (mature tree, dead stump, sap bucket, pitcher of syrup, spring snow.) I really wanted to capture something artistic about the spring sun and the translucence of the syrup (warm syrup on a warm maple plank). I also played with cropping and telescopic shots. The resolution is, of course, the waffles!


The Sweet Reward

Originally published February 11, 2013.

Digital Storytelling at Harvard Extension School

This blog is dedicated to the work I produced for a course at Harvard Extension School titled: Multimedia Communication: Digital Storytelling with Marlon Kuzmick MA, Associate Director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University.

Here is the course description from the course catalog:

“Images now flood our writing lives, whether on the pages of newspapers, magazines and academic journals, or on the screens through which we access Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. It now appears clear that visual literacy the ability to “read” and “write” with images will soon become as important as literacy proper. In this course, we learn how to decode the arguments that images make and make our own arguments with images. We study the emerging academic field of visual rhetoric as well as the examples of it we find in the media to become more effective visual communicators ourselves: we learn to think and to persuade with images. Students complete three projects, ranging from PowerPoint presentations to documentary films that analyze the rhetoric of an argument. The course is helpful to anyone interested in becoming a writer in the age of multimedia (and any of us with a blog or a Facebook profile is now such a writer) as well as those interested in related fields such as web design, film and videomaking, and business communication. Prerequisites: students need access to some sort of image-producing device: a camera, a scanner, or video camera. Local students have access to Mac software in the classroom. Online students using PCs need to have access to a slide presentation program (for example, PowerPoint), a video editing program (for example, Windows Movie-Maker), and an image manipulation program (for example, Photoshop Elements).”