In recent years the GoPro camera has redefined photography and especially videography of extreme adventure sports. They are inexpensive, compact, and mountable. A little over a decade ago if you wanted High-Definition capabilities out of your camera you would be paying a steep price. Now, millions of people have this technology at their fingertips. In the world of scuba diving, GoPro cameras have become especially popular. Underwater camera equipment is notoriously expensive. The underwater housings and lighting systems for cameras cost more than the camera itself. GoPro has made underwater photography and videography possible at a fraction of the cost. Today I am going to help you get the most out of your GoPro so that when you go diving you have the best possible footage to show to family and friends back home.
Tips for better Pictures:
- Master buoyancy control: First and foremost, without good buoyancy it is impossible to get incredible still or video shots.
- Be familiar with the marine organisms you are trying to photograph. Knowing the behavior of the organisms will help you determine the best technique in which to approach that organism.
- Get closer. Even when you think you are close enough, move even closer to your subject! Underwater warm colors especially red, and orange are lost quickly. The more distance between you and your subject, the less color, contrast, and interest the photograph will hold. Underwater particles, known as backscatter, are also very common. The less water between you and your subject the less backscatter will affect your photographs.
- Use a red filter or underwater strobe. Using a red filter or Strobe will help bring back the color that is lost at depth. A red filter can be mounted on the front of your GroPro. A strobe can be handheld or mounted to a tray handle. A tray will provide a solid foundation for the camera as well as allow you to attach one or more strobes to it. Holding on to the handles will steady the camera considerably.
- Do not aim the camera down while shooting. Hold the camera up at eye level and try to shoot across at an upward angle. Shooting down will cause the subject to blend into the background and the overall picture will look flat. Be Creative and use different angles. If possible purchase a LCD screen for your GoPro so that you can see what you are photographing. Try to be aware of what is in the frame of each image. Be particular of what is and isn’t included in the frame. This will help you obtain better images.
Tips for better Video:
- Steady your camera. Again I say, STEADY your camera! Mount it to something solid. Avoid handholding it if at all possible. Put it on a stick, or wrap it around your wrist. Do not put it on your head. Every time you move your head to look around the camera will follow. Nothing is worse than looking back at footage that is shaky. You don’t want to induce motion sickness on the people you show your video to.
- Use various shots. Try not to start recording and let it run for minutes on end. Move around and get different angles. Try panning; twist at the waist and aim the camera while you move back to center. Avoid using your fins to move while the camera is rolling, it will produce shake in the video.
- Keep up with your subject but know when to let it be. You want to be able to get great footage but you don’t want to harass animals in the process. Better to start off filming stationary objects and slow moving critters before moving on to shy, quick moving subjects.
The best advice I can give to anyone who wants more out of their GoPro is to practice. You won’t be a national geographic photographer over night but patience, practice, and a positive attitude is guaranteed to improve you camera skills. Next time you get in the water with your GoPro remember these tips and soon you will be getting some amazing footage of your underwater adventures.