My GoPro Hero 4 came along on almost every dive in the last few years. I documented more than 100 dives with it through photos and videos. My photos and videos were pretty bad at the beginning and most of them ended up in the trash. With a lot of practice and a lot of patience – and some tricks – I have managed to take quite some ok and sometimes really beautiful photos. So today, I’ll be sharing these tips for better underwater photos with GoPro with you:
But before I get started, let’s talk briefly about your expectation regarding the GoPro: Be aware that you are shooting and filming with a small camera, which costs about 400 € and not with a professional SLR camera with underwater housing and extra light arms for tens of thousands of Euros (And yes, that’s how much the systems costs that professional underwater photographers use). With a GoPro you can take good pictures and videos. However, don’t hope for National Geographic to knock on your door to ask for your photos. (A couple of months ago, I’ve upgraded to the Olympus TG-5 and I’m just super happy with the results.)
#1 Be an experienced diver
Only if you feel comfortable diving and your buoyancy is rather good, I would recommend taking a camera on your dive – whether a GoPro or something else. This is mainly about your own safety. It just happens so fast, especially when you are trying to take THE perfect picture, that you don’t notice shooting to the surface or sinking and maybe even damaging the reef.
At 5m depth, the water swallows more than 50% of the sunlight. We notice that with our eyes not so much, but the camera very well. The camera turns ISO up and the photos are pixelated or blurred. However, the GoPro takes some ok photos then. If you want to take pictures of small things or close-ups of the reefs, get an underwater flashlight and point it at the subject – it will help lots!
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#3 Selfie Stick
Get a selfie stick for the GoPro. This will allow you to make much smoother video recordings.
Another tip is this: if you take the stick with GoPro in your right hand, put the front part on the left index finger. Now let the GoPro hang upside down – the gravity helps you to film more stable shots. On your computer rotate the videos 180° and share them with your friends!
#4 Red Filter
Depending on where you are, the water appears very blue or very green. Our eyes get used to these colour differences, but the camera does not. But there’s an easy trick: filters in red or pink. The photos and videos will gain back some colour and life. These filters can be ordered from 10 € on Amazon.
Just like on land, simple rules apply in the water as well to make your photos look more appealing. Take a look at topics like the Golden Ratio and the Rule of Thirds. You’ll notice how much nicer your photos usually are when you take pictures of these concepts.
#6 Exhale & Shoot
Depending on the settings, your GoPro takes a bit after you pressed the button to actually take the photo. Exhale before pushing it and try to be completely still, this should help to make sure that the photos are not blurred.
#7 Video + Screenshots
The GoPro makes ok photos when there is enough light, but it takes better videos. You can take advantage of that by simply filming certain subjects and then take screenshots of the desired frames on the computer. There are also video programs where you can export individual frames.
#8 Editing your Photos
Often, the photos still need editing and there’s still a lot of work to be done. When I import the photos from the camera via Wi-Fi directly on the phone, I edit them with the Snapseed app (iOS and Android). This app is just amazing: you can adjust white balance and the setting ambiance can change a lot too.
When I edit the photos on the laptop, I use Adobe Lightroom. There I can have a lot more possibilities to transform the pictures into something useful. Again, white balance and other settings play a big role.
#9 Learn from your mistakes
Take a look at your photos and videos after the dives. Analyze which ones turned out good and which not. Why? Too little light, too blurred, too blue? That way you’ll learn the limits of the GoPro and know how you can do it better next time.
A tip at the end: Leave the camera at the hotel from time to time or at the boat and just enjoy the dive and the wonderful underwater world.
What are your experience and tips for better underwater photos with the GoPro did you make diving?
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