What’s up GoPro-ers. Is that even a word? Anyway, who cares?
GoPros are pretty well known for shooting amazing videos, but these little cameras are very capable of taking awesome photos too. I would even go as far as saying that these can rival DSLRs sometimes.
So, it this post we’re talking about how to step up your GoPro photography game and start taking better pictures…… even if you are a complete beginner and don’t have any photography background.
Actually, you don’t really need to know that much about photography and cameras.
The GoPro is pretty straightforward and easy to use and there aren’t that many settings you need to take care of.
This camera will use the best settings for you depending on the scene.
Even so, we have a handful of bits of advice that will make your GoPro pictures stand out from the crowd.
These are all actionable tips that you can take away and try out as soon as you’re done reading the post. So put your camera away for now and let’s get to it.
Oh, and did I tell you that we are editing videos for clients such as yourself?
Back to the article.
#1 Always have your GoPro with you
Always! The reason GoPro is so small is so that you can have it with you all the time. I know this sounds like….. dough! of course, you need to have it with you, yet so many people either run into this amazing scenery and they don’t have the GoPro on them.
Actually, I did a research and reached out to over 100 people that are into GoPro photography, and I think the number one tip for getting the most out of your GoPro is to simply have it with you.
This way you know for sure you are not missing anything. You never know when you’re going to run into Yeti or a dinosaur who’s been hiding for millions of years, right? Running pretty darn fast will help too by the way.
#2 Burst mode baby
The GoPro is an action camera for the most part. So if you are into action, sports, running around, jumping off cliffs or anything else which takes place at high speeds the burst mode is your best friend.
I found that using the 30 / 3 seconds setting works best for most of the scenes. Your GoPro will shoot a whopping 30 pictures in 3 seconds which is enough to capture a lot of the action and of your funny faces as you’re doing crazy, unsafe stuff.
This will fill up your SD card pretty fast though if you use it a lot.
The thing about the burst more that you need to be careful about is that you need to shoot in very good lighting. So there has to be plenty of natural light, otherwise, the pictures will get blurry.
If it’s a bit cloudy or it’s getting dark outside, you can try decreasing the number of shots per second.
This will allow the GoPro to take long exposure photos, so there will be more light coming into the sensor and therefore less blur in your picture.
Again, the 30 /3 seconds setting offers the best image quality for the number of shots you get.
#3 Use the Timelapse mode too
If the burst mode is a bit too much and you don’t actually need to take that many pictures in such a short period of time, the time-lapse mode is a great alternative.
Be careful though. There’s a video time-lapse mode and a photo time-lapse mode, so pick the one you want.
I like to use the 1 or 0.5 setting on the time-lapse. This means that after you press the button once the GoPro starts taking one picture every second, or 2 pictures a second until you press the button again.
That’s a good option if you have a longer time frame to shot. On top of that, you will have fewer pictures to browse through when you get back home.
#4 Play around with the angles
Most of people shoot photos or videos by holding the camera (regardless if it’s a GoPro or not) at eye level. I guess that’s just how we are used to holding it.
I found that using low-angle shots can really make a difference. You will have a different perspective of the whole world. Everything looks so much bigger and epic. It’s just like you are viewing the world through a kid’s eyes.
So definitely give low angles a try.
Of course, you can try a ton of different angles, especially if you are using a selfie stick. One quick way to see which angles work best is to have your GoPro set either on time-lapse or burst mode and simply move your selfie stick up and down, rotate, and pan it.
Once you get a grasp of what looks better shot more of those pictures. I’m curious to see if you like low angles too.
#5 Get a GoPro 3-Way Grip or/and a GoPole
Speaking of trying out different angles, you can really play around with your GoPro that much if you are not using a good grip or stick.
The GoPro 3-Way Grip is hands down my number one accessory to buy. You can use it as a grip, as a selfie stick, or as a tripod. It’s simply awesome and it definitely helps you shoot better photos or videos for that matter.
If you want to take selfies while capturing more of the surroundings, the GoPole reach is one of the best sticks you can get for your GoPro because it extends to 40 inches.
Even though the wide lenses of the GoPro do a really good job at capturing a lot of the scenery and of the background, a longer such as this one will help you fit in even more in the picture.
Now there are a ton of other accessories you can get for your GoPro, so you can buy a bunch of them, but I found that keeping your accessories to a maximum of 3 will get you the best results for two reasons.
First and foremost you get to travel light and you actually can take them with your all the time.
Secondly, you will have the time to actually play around long enough with each of these accessories so that you learn how they work and how you can get the most out of them.
If you are doing a lot of underwater shooting though, you’re looking at a different list of accessories, which we going to go through right now.
#6 Prepare for underwater shots
If you’re into scuba diving, snorkeling or anything else which happens in the water there are particular accessories you want to consider for your GoPro camera.
Personally, I don’t really like to get wet that much, so I don’t have much hands-on experience in this area, but there are two accessories I recommend for underwater shoots.
A red filter – because the GoPro will overexpose underwater shots and you get that washy-looking image, that looks just bad. And it’s so bad that you can even make it look good with Photoshop.
The filter makes the colors more vivid.
#7 Check the lenses often
This is a pretty stupid simple tip, but having mud, sand, water, or whatever on your lenses will clearly ruin your shoots.
Getting your GoPro dirty isn’t something that uncommon, so checking out if the lenses are clean every now and then is a good idea. Most of the time it will be just water and the best way to get rid of it is to simply lick it off. I’m sorry but this is the best tip I have to offer. If you have a more high-tech solution I’m all ears.
Sometimes a drop of water or a tiny grain of sand sticking to your GoPro lenses will give the photo or video a more “authentic look”, so when you watch them you actually get a better feel of the action.
#8 Use two of them
Do you know what’s even better than a GoPro? Two GoPros!
On a more serious note though, if you don’t want to miss any shots, or have two separate angles of the same scene you can use two GoPro. One can be on a head or chest mount for a POV experience and the second one could be on a selfie stick.
Now, you can have both taking pictures in timelapse mode, maybe at different speeds, or you can have one in timelapse and the other in burst mode or any other setup that you think it’s right for you.
One setup that I particularly like to use is to have one GoPro shooting video and the second one taking pictures. This way it’s really hard to miss anything.
The not-so-great thing about this is that if you are trying to save a particular frame from your GoPro video as a picture, the quality of that picture will not be as good as in a normal photo you can take the GoPro.
So that’s that.
Even so, you can create a nice video montage of your adventure using a combination of still shots and videos. Or better yet you can send over your footage and pictures and have us create one for you.
#9 Ditch the housing
Unless you plan on seriously smashing your GoPro, the housing will not be of any use really. It only gets in the way of taking better shots. Why have a piece of plastic over your lenses when you don’t need it?
GoPros are pretty sturdy and waterproof anyway, so the housing isn’t really going to help that much. Take it off whenever you want to take an epic shot.
#10 Try different perspectives
The major advantage of the GoPro is that it’s so small and you can put it in places you could never fit a DSLR or even a point-and-shoot camera.
So go wild with it and put the GoPro in a tree, in a hole in the ground, and attach it to your feet. Try out different perspectives that will show a field of view that is unconventional and rarely seen in the majority of the shots people take.
GoPro photography is pretty unique because you can capture scenes from a variety of different perspectives that you can’t shoot with bigger cameras.
#11 Shot at the right time
There’s this thing among photographers and videographers called “golden hour”.
Sounds fancy, but it’s nothing too sophisticated. Basically, the golden hour is that time of the day when the sun is low in the sky, very close to the horizon line. So, either at sunrise or sunset.
Pictures and videos taken at that time will look so much better because of the way the natural light looks. It is as simple as that.
You have beautiful colors in the sky, the sun has a red or yellowish look, and the shadows make everything so epic. So if you can, definitely take your GoPro out and shoot early in the morning or at sunset instead of in the middle of the day.
#12 Over-under shots
Half underwater photos aka. over-under shots are like a trademark of GoPros.
And you got to admit, they look pretty cool, right?
The problem is that you can’t actually take good half-underwater photos if you don’t buy a dome port. These are pretty expensive and if you don’t plan on using yours often, I don’t think it’s worth the money.
One of the cheaper options will still go as high as $40-50.
The reason you need to get a dome port is that you need to keep the water away from the lenses in order to get good shots.
So the dome will give you that nice wide field of view and will solve the magnifying issue you have when you shoot underwater. This way both the over and under portions of the photo will look really good, having the same field of view.
#13 Go into post-production
If you really want to take your GoPro photography game to the next level you are going to need to spend some time in post-production. Editing GoPro photos in software such as Lightroom can really bring in new details, make them pop or simply give a photo a different feel.
The actual settings you need to use will depend on the photo you want to edit, but for the most part, you want to have a nice, strong contrast and then add more saturation and sharpness to it.
Check out this tutorial if you want to know more.
Here are some quick Lightroom adjustments you can make on the fly:
- take the highlights down a lot
- bring the shadows up a lot
- bring white up as much as you can without having it blow out too much
- take the black down until you get a nice contrast
- crank up the clarity quite a lot
- bring the vibrancy up to bring out the colors more
Alright, hopefully, this post wasn’t too long and you’re still here.
So to sum it up, GoPros are amazing photography tools that can anyone can use pretty easily.
Make sure to always have it with you (that’s why it’s so small).
Use the burst mode if you want to capture most of the action.
Or use the time-lapse if you want your GoPro to take a photo every now and then without you worrying about pressing the button
Use different angles. Low angles work really well if you’re after that hero selfie.
Use the right accessories. Don’t buy a bunch of them, stick with just 2-3 which you really need and which you can get the most out of. Check out tip number 6 again if you shoot underwater.
Always make sure the lenses are clean and take off the housing when taking photos.
Try new and unconventional perspectives by taking advantage of the GoPro’s small size and last but not least use photo editing software to really make your shots pop.
Cristian Stanciu is a freelance video editor, owner, and post-production coordinator of Veedyou Media – a company offering video editing services to videographers, marketing agencies, video production studios, or brands all over the globe.