Behind the Lens: A Bird’s Eye View of Chile’s Patagonian Fjords

Chile’s Patagonian fjords combine staggering majestic rocky landscapes with challenging wild waters. Expedition filmmaker Ross Vernon McDonald was aboard a Silversea voyage when he documented the White Narrows, a passage of water with strong currents and a width of only 260 feet (80 meters), from above with his DJI-Mavic Pro drone.

Swapping wildlife for spectacular landscapes

Though filming wildlife is Ross’s speciality, he was blown away by how thrilling the experience of sailing can truly be, especially when navigating some of the world’s most spectacular fjords.  

“The whole point of this job for me was that I wanted to be able to shoot the wildlife and the landscape, but I hadn’t really thought about the fact that sometimes just the sailing aspect would also be really exciting,” says Ross.

“Chile’s Patagonian fjords are very striking with dynamic colossal landscapes all around you. To capture that with the drone was really exhilarating and quite a rush to follow the ship going through this huge landscape and traveling through these gaps.”

Silver Explorer cruising through Patagonian fjords
The view from a drone captures the magnitude of Chile’s Patagonian fjords/Ross Vernon McDonald

A bird’s eye view

A drone is the perfect companion for an aerial perspective of dramatic mountain ranges and large-scale backdrops since it can capture entire landscapes with its super wide-angle lens.

Ross adds: “Usually with the drone you’re just filming the landscape itself rather than a subject within it that’s moving or doing something specific. And that’s because the lens on the drone is so wide you’d never be able to film wildlife with it unless it was a whale or elephant or something like that.

“Watching the ship from the sky I was able to have this really unique perspective on it which obviously at the time of filming, I was the only one seeing.”

The expedition began at the vibrant city of Valparaíso in Chile and concluded in Puerto Williams in the south – an adventure Ross will always remember.

Narrow point between Patagonian fjords in Chile
The narrow point between the fjords is difficult to navigate, but extremely rewarding/Ross Vernon McDonald