Sharpshooter on the Ice Shooting Aurora Australis
When reached by ship, Antarctica still feels like a remote place and one does not always make it there. This summer, I was lucky to spend a record time of over a 100 days onboard the Aurora Australis, participating in 3 consecutive voyages. One supported oceanographic surveys and two resupplied the Antarctic stations of Casey, Davis and Mawson. The last voyage, my 21st crossing of the Southern Ocean, resulted in the ship parked in thick fast ice 30 nm off Mawson station as the ship could go no further due to an iceberg retaining all the summer ice. I was working both as a barge skipper for the Australian Antarctic Division but doubling up as camera operator. This helped me keeping sane, because the lack of water did not allow for much watercraft activities. Having two professional hats enabled me to make the most of my time at sea, collecting some valuable stock footage of Antarctic scenery, wildlife and human activities.
Filming at sea poses additional challenges: slippery decks, unpredictable waves motion, ladders, tight spots, wet, salty, windy and cold, nothing good for camera equipment! The light and portable Miller DS 10 Solo DV tripod proved very practical for use on a moving ship. It supported the Canon 5D Mark II and the Sony HXRMC50E Camcorder, a tiny lightweight professional camcorder, which looks disproportionally small for the tripod.
The tripod was also tested in very cold temperatures, -20C at the moment, and is fared well with the conditions. The clear winter nights off Mawson station gave the ship dwellers the rare opportunity to observe Aurora Australis, a phenomenon which occurs in the polar regions and very rarely observed from lower latitudes.
Meanwhile, Michael Brookes alias Chook from ABC Launceston was trying to fit in with a slightly heavier camera and felt the challenges of handling large equipment in tiny spot. He kept his smile and hung on to his tripod!
About the Author
Originally trained in France as an environmental engineer with a strong background in media and communication, Fred migrated to Australia where she was involved as a marine scientist in a variety of remote field based projects ranging from tropical reef monitoring to Antarctic ecology. Fred’s PhD research focused on monitoring signals of climate change in the breeding habitats of Antarctic seabirds and gave her a wealth of experience with the Antarctic environment and operations, with 10 consecutive summers and a winter.
In parallel, she worked as an environmental engineer, wilderness photographer, expedition guide, lecturer, commercial skipper and more recently as voyage manager for the Australian Antarctic Division.
Fred’s start in documentary production was as logistic support/camera/sound with filming emperor penguins for the ground breaking BBC Planet Earth Series. She since has been involved in various documentaries for BBC Natural History (South Pacific Series) or BBC Science, ABC (Mawson Life and Death in Antarctica), SBS ‘Policing the Pacific’, NatGeo TV Great Migrations to cite a few examples. She also dedicated time in producing DVDs in the Solomon Islands to educate local communities on environment and conservation and recently ensurring coverage the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication project. Fred prefers field based shoots as she really enjoys the challenge of being autonomous in remote conditions.
(1630) Solo 75 2-Stage Alloy Tripod
Lean, light, low for DV/DSLR on the go!
(1511) DS10 Solo DV Carbon Fibre System
The DS10 Solo system combines the ultralight, ultra rigid carbon fibre Solo tripod with the versatile DS10 75mm ball levelling head & selectable counterbalance. With a height range from 757mm/29.8" all the way up to 1467mm/57.6" DS10 Solo DV CF system suits 2.5-5 kg/5.5-11 lbs MiniDV and DVCAM payloads from barebones to fully stacked PD150 or Canon XL-1.