Cameraman Mark Smith among the Adélie penguins of Cape Crozier.
For Frozen Planet, cameraman Mark Smith and producer Jeff Wilson spent 1,000 hours alone working among the Adélie penguins of Cape Crozier, Antarctica. This grueling and isolated shoot resulted in some of the most charming and unforgettable scenes from the series. The price: just a bit of their sanity (which they regained afterwards).
Filming in an ice cave beneath Antarctica's Mount Erebus.
Frozen Planet cameraman Gavin Thurston documents the bizarre and spectacular ice crystals that form in the ice caves beneath Antarctica's Mount Erebus. Thurston had to watch his back as he slowly moved from the cave with his bulky camera to avoid breaking the crystals.
Filming bison and wolves in the Canadian High Arctic.
Jeff Turner's camera fills up with snow while filming bison and wolves in Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta Canada, in temperatures near -40°F — typical of mid-winter in the Arctic Circle. To get his shots, Turner hunkered down behind willow scrub, making as little noise and movement as possible. He spent three weeks on foot trying to sneak up on some of the wildest and most skittish bison in the world. One hundred yards is as close as he ever got. The super zoom lens allowed him to film the animals undisturbed — at least, until the snow covered the lens up entirely.
Filming killer whales close up in Antarctica's Ross Sea.
Lying belly down on Antarctic sea ice at the edge of a small hole, cameraman Jamie McPherson gets a surprise when a killer whale mother and calf explode out of the water in front of his face. "The only way to get underwater images of the killer whales was to hand hold a camera on a pole in the icy water, wait and hope," said Chadden Hunter, who took the photo. "As the orcas came up to breathe they would eye ball the crew with curiosity and spray oily breath all over their faces. To be on your stomach precariously perched on the edge of the ice with a killer whale staring down at you was simultaneously terrifying and awe-inspiring."
Filming beneath the Antarctic sea ice.
Cameramen Doug Anderson bolts a bespoke underwater tripod to the ice ceiling in Antarctica. "We were able to get extraordinarily stable, macro shots of theses amazing ice formations or ice chandeliers, which were inhabited by millions of tiny ice fish whose bodies were full of anti-freeze," said Hugh Miller, who took the photo and created the custom tripod in collaboration with Anderson. "Under ice diving is not for the faint-hearted — it is the most high-risk diving in the world. Our crew dived a record 110 times in one Antarctic season and spent hours under the ice capturing this magical world."
Filming killer whales from a boat in the Antarctic Peninsula.
"The orcas dwarfed the 15-foot zodiac and even started to wave wash the team while they were filming," recalls Robert Pitman, who took the photograph. While some orcas eat fish, these are mammal hunters. They kill seals by working as a team to generate large waves that wash them off ice floes. Others hunt minke whales by hunting them down and drowning them.
Filming Kolya gathering eggs from a sheer cliff in Chukotka.
Cameraman Ted Giffords films Kolya collecting guillemot and gull eggs from a crumbling limestone cliff in Chukotka, Russian Far East. While Ted used a double rope system and a climbing harness, Kolya was suspended by a single thin nylon rope which he tied to his belt. This is a tried-and-tested technique although occasionally men do fall to their deaths.
Filming polar bears up close.
The Frozen Planet crew films a polar bear from a boat in the pack ice. "Frozen Planet is the first series to adapt a stabilized aerial camera and mount it to the front of boats," said John Aitchison, who took the photo. "This enabled the series to get close to polar bears in their melting summer ice world. It's impossible for conventional film crews to get so close."
Getting close to penguins at Cape Washington.
Frozen Planet filmmaker Didier Noirot inches closer and closer to emperor penguins on the sea ice at Cape Washington, Antarctica, where the penguins are returning to breed. "The team used a range of cameras to capture this spectacular moment, from a pole cam positioned just under the ice edge to a high speed camera above the ice," recalls Chadden Hunter, who took the photo. "The difficulty was predicting where exactly the penguins would emerge. The largest penguin on earth seemed completely unphased by Didier and was often keen to take a closer look at the cameras!"
Using a gyro-stabilized camera to film walrus hunters.
The Frozen Planet crew maneuvers a gyro-stabilized camera fitted to a crane attached to a boat on the Bering Sea off the coast of Chukotka in the Russian Far East. This system enabled the team to film steady shots of a team of hunters hunting walrus from open boats.
Filming emperor penguins underwater.
Cameraman Didier Noirot films emperor penguins underwater. The penguins are returning to breed at Cape Washington, Antarctica. The team used a ground-breaking high-speed underwater camera to capture the penguins' magical underwater ballet.
Filming Adélie penguins in a snowstorm.
Cameraman Mark Smith films Adélie penguins in early spring. Frequent snowstorms with winds of up to 95 miles per hour kept Mark and producer Jeff Wilson on their toes throughout their four months working alone at Cape Crozier, Antarctica. These un-seasonal snowstorms are spring's sucker punch. The water warms faster than the land and pulls cold air down from the continent. Entire penguin colonies can be killed by these savage storms because the penguins refuse to leave their eggs, even if they are completely covered in several feet of snow.