10 Tips to better GoPro dome photos
GoPro dome photos are easy to take once you know these few tricks.
Before diving into the tips let’s talk about the dome. The key to under over GoPro dome photos is using the right Dome port. If you are asking yourself what is a Dome? well, basically it’s a big bubble that goes over the front of your GoPro. The larger the dome the more split effect you’ll get. You can get some great results from inexpensive dome ports. We use a 6″ Telesin dome port we picked up in Bali on the way to the Philippines for about $50 USD. Theres also the PolarPro Dome with access to the back screen. A few things to keep in mind when buying one are:
- Access to the back screen to change settings while in the water, we really wish we had this feature as it would make things a lot easier.
- Size of the dome ( the larger the more spit effect )
- Material, is it glass or plastic? ( glass scratches less and won’t get as many water drops on it )
We use the GoPro Hero Black 7 the quality you get from this tiny camera is amazing. The Hero 8 Black is out now with a few more features notably the ability to shoot RAW in all photo modes including sequence which is handy for GoPro dome shots
Use Eco-Friendly soap
To stop water droplets from sticking to your dome and ruining your shots, rub some eco friendly liquid soap over the outside of the dome before taking it into the water, this will help stop the water from creating blurry spots on the dome. If you don’t have soap you can spit on the dome and rub it around, I know it sounds yuck but it actually works. The best way to get the least droplets is quickly dunking the lens a second before you take your shot then recompose and shoot. That way the water wont have as much time to form droplets.
Shoot burst mode
The trickiest thing is timing the water ripples and waves across the dome, we always shoot in burst mode. We shoot 10/2 which means 10 shots in 2 seconds or sometimes 30/2 it sounds like a lot but you can just delete the shots you don’t like and it gives you much more of a chance of timing the perfect shot.
Shoot Flat Picture mode or RAW
When shooting burst mode for split shots, RAW is not available in GoPro models from Hero 7 and under. The next best thing is shooting in Flat picture mode this will give you more dynamic range to edit with. This is not always necessary but if you plan to do a bit of editing we find it helps. The Latest 2020 GoPro Hero Black 8 now has RAW option in all its shooting modes so we’d recommend shooting in raw whenever you can if you’re going to edit your shots and to get the best quality.
Shoot wide mode
Shoot wide mode and vertical this will make the most of the split effect.
Play with the tilt
Tilting the dome can give dramatically different perspectives depending on what you want to focus on, more below or more above. Also experiment with your split line, it doesn’t necessarily need to be in the middle 50/50 you can try 60/40 or even 80/20 depending on whats in your frame.
Shoot with the sun behind you
For best results shoot with the sun behind you. This will reduce flare on the dome port. as well as reduce the possibility of the camera lens and parts of the port reflecting back on the inside on the dome.
Select an interesting backdrop
For the above half of the shot we try and experiment with a close dramatic backdrop like a boat, cliffs, person or palm trees to fill the sky rather than just empty space.
Try to find the clearest water possible, calm days, away from breaking waves and fine sand particles will help give you clearer water. Shooting in shallow water with light colour bottoms such as coral or white sand also helps to light the bottom half of the shot.
Bring back colours and depth with editing
Split shots will usually need a bit of editing to bring out the best in them, we use Lightroom desktop app to edit our shots and have developed some presets we use to edit our photos.
Use gradual filters to balance your photo
One key feature in Lightroom desktop and the paid mobile app is the graduation filter and brushes, using these will let you adjust the exposure of the under water part of your shot. With most split shots the exposures will be very different between above and below parts of the image and need balancing out.
If you enjoy this you might like some of our other photography tips