I recently got back from a trip to the Arctic. This is a fun timelapse clip I shot while I was there. It was taken with a GoPro HERO5 Black.
I shot it while our ship was punching through the polar ice pack above 80° north, off the coast of Sjuøyane, a group of seven islands at the northernmost tip of Svalbard. It's in the Barents Sea well north of the Norwegian mainland. ⠀
The ship, the Polar Pioneer, operated by Aurora Expeditions, isn't a true icebreaker--that's a specific kind of design that's quite different--but with an ice class 1A ice-strengthened hull, it can go places most ships can't.
The timelapse makes it look like we were moving fast, but that's deceptive. Even with a strengthened hull, it can still be very dangerous just crashing into ice. As you can see, some pieces of ice are thicker than others, and from time to time some brought us to a sudden halt. The fastest we were moving through this area was 3 knots, and the captain and crew up on the bridge were on high alert the whole time.
We weren't just crashing through the ice pack because we could. We were looking for polar bears (and found some, but that's a different post). This is precisely the kind of drifting ice pack where they, and seals they feed on, live on during the summer.
I have more information on the this drift ice here.
This was a very simple setup: a GoPro HERO5 Black mounted on a GoPro Jaws clamp (without the goose neck). The clamp was around one of the ship's rails, and the tension was plenty strong enough to keep the camera still relative to the ship, even when we rammed into some of the heavier ice that brought the ship to sudden halt.
I had a bunch of different cameras on hand, but it was hard to beat the combination of simplicity and wide view of the GoPro. Just attach it, press the shutter, and this is what came out.
It was set in timelapse video mode in the 1080p setting. There are a few different segments used here. Some were filmed with a 1-second interval and others with a 2-second interval. I wanted to keep it fairly fluid and not too jumpy, which is why I used the short intervals. None of the segments were long enough to warrant using an external battery.
The still photo at the top of the page was also taken with the same camera, this time in the photo mode using the RAW (gpr) file setting and Protune turned on.
The editing, audio track, and titles were added in Final Cut Pro X. Some sections were retimed in Final Cut to speed them up further to keep the whole thing to a reasonable length.
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Common GoPro Questions
Here are some common questions I get from GoPro users.
Is it normal for GoPro cameras to get hot?
Yes. Depending on the model and the shooting mode you're using, it's normal for GoPros to get quite warm while shooting. They can get hot enough to be uncomfortable to touch. It's especially noticeable when shooting high-resolution and high-framerate video. Some newer models have an overheating protection mechanism that will shut the camera down if it gets too hot. I have more details on GoPros getting hot, here.
How can I control a GoPro remotely?
GoPro makes a range of wireless remote controls. They don't all work with all GoPros--for example, the HERO (2018) isn't compatible with this type of remote control. Many of the newer models also work with the GoPro mobile app. Not every model can be controlled remotely, but most of the newer models have wireless compatibility that can be used for at least some methods of remote control.
Can you take pictures with a GoPro?
If you've been using a GoPro for a while, this might seem pretty obvious, but if you've never used one, it's not quite so self-evident. GoPros are best known for dramatic action videos, but they can most certainly take still photos too. In fact, they can be a very interesting alternative to a traditional camera so long as you work within its limitations. I have more more details here.
Do GoPro wireless controls work underwater?
No. You can't use the mobile app or a wireless remote control if the camera is fully submerged in water. They will normally work just fine in rain and spray--just not submerged. I have a more detailed explanation here.
Do GoPro touchscreens work underwater?
No. If they're just wet above water, they can work to some extent, although often less reliably. But the touchscreens won't work underwater.