Kalle Ljung’S Antarctica video looks like it was filmed with a helicopter and wildly expensive gyro-stabilized camera. But the photographer used a consumer drone and GoPro to create a majestic piece of cinematography that makes you see the antarctic anew. “I really tried to capture the big picture of what it was like down there,” the Swede says. “I wanted to show the beauty but also the loneliness.”
Ljung, a photographer and gearhead, initially visited Antarctica with his 73-year-old father, who is spending three years sailing around the world. The two met in Argentina and crossed the Drake Passage in dad’s 46-foot sailboat. They spent 16 days exploring, during which Ljung shot more than 250 minutes of footage.1 He bought his DJI Phantom 2 drone a few months before the trip. Ljung spent a lot of time practicing at home, but was still nervous when he sent it up in the frigid and sometimes snowy antarctic air. “Anyone can fly a drone,” he says. “My mom can start flying drones, but you need a lot of practice to really control it manually.”
He used a 3-axis H3-3D gimbal to create the glorious footage and had a monitor attached to his controller that showed a live view from the GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition. The monitor helped with control, but it was still difficult to capture certain shots—like when he flew the drone through the opening in the iceberg. “I could see what I was filming, but you never get much depth on the monitor so it was hard to know exactly where I was,” he says.
The drone captured sweeping shots of the arctic landscape, full of mountainous glaciers and shifting shades of blue. Random appearances by Ljung’s boat and his father provide scale for the immense surroundings, and a pod of humpback whales surfacing the glassy water are caught in exquisite detail.
When he returned home, Ljung had no plans to promote the film, but it took off when he uploaded a segment to Instagram and tagged it with #FilmConvert, the software he used to edit. FilmConvert sent it out on its channels, and the clip gained traction. It has racked up more than 913,000 views so far. The footage chronicled Ljung’s personal adventure with his father, but clearly resonated with people. “What’s really amazed me are all the comments by people who say that they’re really touched and inspired,” he says.
Ljung doesn’t plan to return to Antarctica, but his dad is sailing toward Tahiti before continuing west. Ljung might meet him in New Zealand to do a little filming. “It would be nice to catch up in a warmer place this time,” he says.