NOTE: This post was written by Peter Holcombe. He and his wife, Kathy Holcombe, once owned a traditional mom-and-pop studio based in Boulder, Colorado, but two years ago, they sold their home studio and moved both their family and business into a Winnebago RV and hit the road, taking their twelve-year-old daughter along on the adventure of a lifetime. While traveling, they rely on their GoPro Cameras to get hard-to-capture shots.
GoPro cameras have changed the way we capture our world. They’ve allowed glimpses into some of the most inaccessible places humans dare to venture: from the barrel of a huge wave in Hawaii, to a bumper view of a Daytona 500 race car, to a BASE jumper’s point of view when leaping from a tall building. These are images that until recently haven’t been readily available because the specialized equipment needed was out of reach to all but a select few.
Now for a couple hundred dollars you can have your own personal adventure camera. Even if you aren’t out there risking life and limb, there are so many fun things to do with your GoPro — let your kids take it to the swimming pool for underwater selfies or mount it on your dog and see what happens.
Looking to have a little fun with your GoPro? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you take your images to the next level.
Some of the best features of the GoPro are its small size, incredible durability, and ability to be put most anywhere. There are tons of mounts available for nearly any structure or surface and you can even make your own. Here are a few mounting ideas that have worked well for me:
GoPro 4 and older users ditch the housing case (unless you are in a situation where the camera might get wet). I use the GoPro Frame to eliminate the waterproof housing while still allowing me to use all the cool mounts. You will see improved image quality by eliminating the extra layer of glass between the camera and the world. Just be a little more careful as the camera is a little more fragile without is armored housing.
Time Lapse is my favorite mode to capture still images in a fast moving environment. By setting the camera to take a shot every half second, you will ensure you get the best images at the peak of action. I use this mode while whitewater kayaking (with my waterproof housing attached, of course), with the camera mounted on my paddle blade. Sure, I get lots of images of bubbles, but I find there is almost always one or two great images of something I couldn’t have gotten any other way. Note: Having a higher capacity memory card is a must when shooting in Time Lapse mode.
Use the rear LCD screen to set up shots. I always check the back of the camera to make sure I’m happy with the composition of my scene. If you are going crazy with creative compositions, you might not be able to see the LCD because your camera may in some unimaginable location. Don’t fret, just switch on the wi-fi on your camera and use the GoPro app on your phone to compose your image, change camera settings and trigger the shutter. I use this a lot when the camera is mounted on a vehicle and I’m whizzing down the road in the passenger’s seat.
This sounds pretty obvious right? But a little dust can ruin a great shot and really make you unhappy later. Make sure to clean both the inside and outside of the case, as well as the camera lens itself. When in the water, watch for water droplets on the lens. One drop in the center of your lens can make the best footage look like a blobby mess. Many surfers have found licking the lens and giving it a quick dunk in the water will temporarily keep water droplets from forming on your lens. You will have to do this repeatedly in really splashy places. I often carry a small Pack Towel brand synthetic super absorbent towel, which I use to wipe down the camera and remove small droplets when on land.
There’s nothing worse than running out of power in the middle of the action. Hero 4 users have the ability to swap batteries in the camera when needed. These batteries are small and very efficient and really expand your capacity to keep shooting. I always throw in a couple of extra batteries to make sure I don’t miss out on the perfect shot.
Use these tips as a starting point and then go wild with experimentation. You’ll discover that you can capture an abundance of still images and videos of the amazing things that are going on around you all the time. Now get out there and be a hero.
To see more of Peter Holcombe’s photographs check him out on Instagram @peterholcombe.
Want more photography tips? Our blog has a series of posts designed to help you get started with DSLR photography and learn to take photos in any situation.