How to use your GoPro underwater

Aug 09, 2013 4 Comments by

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting back from a snorkel or dive having been face-to-face with the creatures of the deep, only to find your video footage is out of focus or too wobbly to use.

As soon as you drop your head and camera below the surface there are a few important tips to remember to ensure you’re more Jacques Cousteau than Captain Chaos:

1. Take away the blurriness. Don’t assume your GoPro is ready to shoot video underwater. There’s a difference between the HERO3 and the earlier models. If you’ve got a HERO or HERO2 you will need an aftermarket flat lens as the standard GoPro housing won’t focus underwater.

2. Stay shallow to capture the best colour. If you stay above five metres deep you’ll retain almost 100 per cent of the vibrant, natural colour that coral reefs and tropical fish are made of. Below five metres you’ll need to add a colour correction filter to bring back the red part of the colour spectrum that depth removes.

3. Going deeper? For close-up subjects below 20 metres you’ll need to add a wide-angle video light to your setup. This will bring the saturated colour back to life in your video.

4. Use the sun to your advantage. Always try and shoot with the sun behind you, it will help to lighten your subject and bring the full colour spectrum back to your video. On the flip side, it’s sometimes nice to have the sun’s rays punching through the water to add that solar flare effect.

5. Get close… then get closer! GoPros are designed to shoot the widest angle possible in order to catch all the action. When you’re underwater that’s great, until you want to get a close-up of something. Steadily approach your subject until you’re almost on top of it. That should get it all in shot!

6. Steady as she goes. Ensure you’ve got your camera connected to something, not just held in your hand; be it a wrist strap, secured to a mount or even locked onto a tripod. That way you’ll be able to watch your footage rather than struggling to recover your GoPro from the ocean floor!

7. A photographer already? Why not mount your GoPro onto your current camera’s housing if you’re down there taking still shots? That way you can shoot video at the same time and never miss any of the action.

8. LCD or no LCD? Yes, it helps you to frame up your shot perfectly, but having the optional LCD BackPac turned on all the time drains battery life at a phenomenal rate. It also warms up the housing very quickly which leads me to my next point…

9. Avoid the fog. Operating a battery-powered device underwater generates heat; seal that in a housing and plunge it into cold water and it’ll fog up pretty quickly, ruining your footage. You can buy special anti-fog inserts at a ridiculous price but I simply buy a chamois leather, cut out small squares and drop them inside the housing to absorb any moisture. Wash it once and dry it in a low-heat oven to increase its effectiveness even more.

*Cover photo Jo Muskus

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African adventurer, Best Job in the World winner, Queensland Tourism Ambassador, Best Expedition in the World. What's next? Life is what you make it!
  • Monika Mons

    good article.. I’m planing my trip to Greece where i’ll probably go diving :) i bought my go pro http://www.megon.lt/foto-video-optika-technika/skaitmenines-vaizdo-kameros? for good price :)

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  • nomoralequivalencehere

    Nice article. I’m going to the Caribbean and want to take some snorkelling videos (no more than 5m deep, mostly only a couple of meters). Do you recommend the GoPro head mount or the GoPro guest mount? Thanks!

    • http://www.bestjobben.com/ Ben Southall

      Sorry for the late reply here, I totally missed it! Personally I’d get a GoPro Pole and have it in my hand as you can steady the camera a lot easier AND hold it out in front of you when you swim along. The head mount and chest mount will produce vision that’s all over the place. So go hand-held yes :)