GoPros have become some of the most popular cameras of foodies, travel bloggers and everyday shutterbugs. But did you know that getting the best GoPro shot often requires you to throw conventional photography rules right out of the window? Here are just a few wisdom-defying GoPro photography tips that will nonetheless improve your results.
1. Center Your Subjects
This is the golden rule of GoPro photography tips, and it’s the exact opposite of what you should do with other cameras. If you’ve ever heard of the “Rule of Thirds,” you’re probably aware that most photographers are encouraged to put their subjects off-center because it increases the visual interest of the shot. With the GoPro, however, you’re shooting through a fish-eye lens where everything but the center gets distorted. If you want your subject to come through loud and clear, they need to be centered.
2. Clean Your Lens Regularly
Like its name implies, the GoPro is an on-the-go camera that many people just whip out of their pockets when the time is right. While this is great for capturing candid moments, it also means that the lens is very easily dirtied, scratched and smudged. These imperfections will be magnified tenfold in your photos thanks to the small size of the viewfinder. If you’re serious about improving the quality of your GoPro work, try to make a habit of wiping off your lens before every use. This is one of those GoPro tricks that will keep 500 vacation photos from being ruined by a thumbprint in the bottom corner.
3. Take Multiple Shots
This is a good rule of thumb for photography in general, but it’s especially important when considering GoPro photography tips. Your GoPro doesn’t have any real stability between pointing and clicking, so you’re bound to have a few blurry, out-of-focus duds in each bunch. By taking multiple photos of the same scene, you’re much more likely to snag the perfect shot without any shaky cam effects. You can even use GoPro’s “time lapse” and “burst” features to take dozens of pictures without any extra effort on your part. Look under your settings, adjust the time controls and get to shooting.
4. Watch Your Lighting
The biggest drawback of shooting with a GoPro is that you can’t control things like aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Your camera will automatically decide your exposure levels based on the light that it senses around it. This is a particular problem when you’re outdoors because bright and natural sunlight has a tendency of washing everything else out, so pay close attention to the lighting in your shots. Beware shadows and contrasts that will get lengthened by the camera’s distortion, and double-check all of your photos before you move on. Don’t get frustrated if you have to take the picture again but in a new area or with someone angled differently.
5. Move In Closer
The fish-eye lens of the GoPro is also known as an ultra wide-angle lens. This means that it takes in much more of the surrounding environment than a traditional camera. One of the creeds that you’ll hear over and over again in GoPro photography tips is to get closer to your subject if you want visible details and textures; if you hang back, the ultra-wide angle will turn everyone tiny. While this can be a fun effect for skies and landscapes, it’s not what you need for a group shot at your family reunion.
If you want to create really stunning photos, you should also check out our underwater photography tips article.
6. Get Connected
Since GoPros don’t have image preview screens, your photos will need to be uploaded or transferred to a computer before you can see them. The good news is that there are official apps that can replace the need for constantly removing and replacing your memory card. Simply sync your camera and your smartphone to receive all of your preview images in real time. It’s one of those GoPro photography tips that will turn into a die-hard habit, especially if it sends you down the rabbit hole of other GoPro software.
7. Invest in the Right Accessories
There are a number of accessories that you can use in conjunction with GoPro shooting tips for more dynamic pictures. For example, a camera stabilizer will help you reduce your number of blurry, unfocused shots, and mounts of different shapes and sizes can be purchased for cars, bikes, buses and drones. You can even buy special converters and adapters that will allow you to use your GoPro with all of your existing camera equipment.
8. Watch Out For Shadows
The lament of many GoPro photographers is that the wide-angle lens caught their shadows holding up the camera and taking the shot. You’ll need to be careful about angling yourself away from the action. Many GoPro shooting tips will suggest that you take the same photo from a different perspective, but if your subject is something huge and distant like a mountain range, this isn’t always an option. Consider refracting your light with a homemade diffuser or softbox. You can make them with nothing more than a blank poster board, and they can save your shots from all of those terrible, inconvenient shadows.
9. Mind Your Battery Life
Another popular refrain in GoPro photography tips is to keep an eye on your battery life. The average GoPro battery will last between 1-2 hours before it needs a recharge or replacement, and that isn’t long at all when you’re on location and shooting up a storm. Especially if you’re taking videos along with your photos, it’s very easy to drain all of your power without even realizing it until the screen goes dark. Do yourself a favor and keep extra batteries on hand.
10. Be Careful With Your Lines
Whenever you’re dealing with distorted photos like the ones taken with a fish-eye lens, it’s important to pay attention to your vertical and horizontal lines. They can change the whole perspective of your photo if they’re leading one way or converging in another. You’ll hear it mentioned a lot in GoPro photography tips, but it’s true: Stick to center shots. Always imagine that your subject is in the bulls-eye of the viewfinder.
11. Learn How to Edit Your Photos
This is one of the most basic of GoPro photography tips. If you’ve ever “liked” or “shared” GoPro photos on social media, there’s a good chance that they were put through post-processing software like Photoshop before they went viral. As previously discussed, GoPros don’t do well with things like exposure levels, so their raw image files need to be cleaned and colored before they’re ready for the public. It’s an open secret among photographers that everyone edits their photos when sharing them online, so don’t be shy about joining the club.
These are just a few GoPro photography tips that can help you move from the amateurs to the big leagues. What do you think, readers? Do you have a GoPro attached to your hand as you work, play, travel and enjoy the company of friends? Do you have GoPro tricks that will revolutionize other people’s camerawork? Sound off in the comments!