Learning Surf Photography with a GoPro Hero 11 Black 2023
GoPro Hero 11 Black cameras are a fantastic tool for photographing waves since they are reliable, simple to use, and create high-quality images.
Traditional scuba diving housings are not intended for taking pictures of waves; they are heavy, bulky, and use the incorrect ergonomics for the positions you'll be in. All of these problems are addressed by surf housings (like our GDome XL Surf Housing) for DSLR / mirrorless cameras, but they are pricey. As a result, many of us are left to capture waves on GoPro.
These fundamental pointers come from my experience with GoPro surf photography, however there are many skilled photographers shooting waves out there.
It simply isn't possible to hold your GoPro by hand, unless your fingers are the size of jelly beans. A sturdy handle or trigger grip is necessary for taking decent surf images with a GoPro. Especially for keeping the camera inside the wave as it goes by, the grip offers significantly more reach.
There are numerous handles and triggers to choose from. The GDome All Metal Trigger System is a fantastic, functional GoPro handle. You must use your finger to press the shutter release on the camera when it is in burst mode, which is really easy. There are numerous additional GoPro handle brands that can be used for surfing photography or just everyday use.
Wear a wrist lanyard; you'll be pleased it is there when the ocean knocks your camera out of your hands at some point.
I use my GoPro to capture waves. I don't have a trigger for this, but I happened to have some Ultralight components lying around that would create a fantastic, multi-angle GoPro handle.
Make Use of the Proper GoPro Wave Setting
I've spent my entire life in, on, and around waves, but I'm still amazed by how swiftly they move. The burst mode on the GoPro, which has a variety of possibilities, is the greatest setting for taking pictures of waves. If possible, consider taking photos with 30 frames spread over 2 seconds because it's likely that your battery will run out long before your memory card is full. This will enable you to record the wave breaking in its entirety and then pick your favorite frame. When the wave is ready to break and you're moving into your final position, keep in mind that it takes the GoPro a second to start shooting when you push the shutter button.
The best method to make sure you capture the greatest shot and make the most of your time in the water is to "spray and pray" a little bit and look through thousands of photos.
Remain still and let the wave to approach you.
Pursuing a wave is similar to chasing a fish in that it will typically out manoeuvre you. Waiting where the wave is breaking, whether on land or in the ocean closer to the shore, is the finest place to take GoPro wave photos. You'll always be in "the green room" if you can read the waves effectively and place yourself right where the wave is breaking.
Waves in particular can be very hazardous and unpredictable. The majority of the wave pictures you see were taken by photographers with a lot of body-boarding, paddling, lifeguarding, and other water-related experience. There is no reason to go out if the waves are large and there are dangerous currents and rip tides because many of the photos (unless you're Clark Little) are also taken in waves that are much smaller than you would think.
The time when only owners of bulky DSLRs could capture high-quality images of surfers is long gone. The GoPro is now the camera of choice for more and more amateur surf photographers and videographers due to its simplicity of use, affordable pricing, and small size. We've prepared a list of the essential accessories for GoPro surf photography because you can't just go into the sea with a GoPro HERO camera in hand.
Grips and Handles
Instead of surfing on a board, the most popular technique to utilize a GoPro for surf photography and videography is to place it on a handle. Using a handle enables you to take steady video and pictures with one hand while battling the surf, much like full-size cameras in surf housings.
Numerous GoPro handle variations are available, including branded products like the GoPro The Handler ($30) and GoPro 3-Way ($70). The 3-Way is incredibly adaptable and can be used as a tripod, extension arm, or camera grip. However, because it swings and isn't buoyant if lost, this is best used in rather calm conditions. The Handler, a more robust handle, is a floating hand grip designed to perform admirably under the most trying circumstances (of the surface).
The Ideal Kit for Surf Photography
Get one of these incredible pieces of equipment: the GoPro Hero 11 Black.
You will occasionally lose control of the camera when you get lipped, so you need a leash to fasten it to your wrist. There are countless ways to use a camera, including hand-held, shoulder- or head-mounted, nose- or tail-of-board.
There are various choices for a pistol grip style trigger made by independent manufacturers outside of GoPro's official line-up. By employing a pistol grip, you may adjust the camera's housing with one hand while activating the shutter or starting/stopping video with the index finger on the grip. A well-liked model is the $50 GDome All Metal Trigger.
These are but a few of the countless handles available. The convenience of operation of your GoPro will be significantly increased by purchasing a pistol grip trigger handle, even if it is more expensive than a straightforward floating handle, especially in challenging settings.
A GoPro being attached to a surfboard
There are numerous mounting solutions available as well if you want to capture first-person footage or stills from a surfer. The GoPro Surf Mount ($20) may be the most popular extra. In this instance, an incredibly powerful glue is used to connect the mount to the board; for optimal results, remove any wax or residue from your board before using the adhesive, and allow it to dry for 24 hours before utilizing. The GoPro may be turned either forward to catch the action as it happens or backward to take some cute surfing selfies.
Other Mounts for Surf Photography
There are additional solutions besides the surfboard mount, which is by far the most popular method for filming surfing action. You can record first-person footage with the GoPro Head Strap Mount ($20) or GoPro Chest Mount ($40), depending on your level of surfing proficiency.
A GoPro Wrist Housing ($50) is a mounting option that surfers are employing more and more frequently. Selfie sticks are frequently used by experienced surfers to record video and still images, although this might be difficult for less experienced surfers to utilize. The wrist housing is worn instead like a watch and may be simply pointed in any direction. You may even become oblivious to wearing it.
Dome Lens Cases
The GoPro is a fantastic tool for surf photography because of its ultra-compact design and versatility, but when compared to DSLRs, it has one significant drawback: it lacks a dome port to capture the much-desired split images. Although GoPro doesn't produce any exclusive lens accessories, outside businesses have seized the chance to market to surf photographers.
The GDome SuperDive ($99) is arguably the most well-liked dome that comes with a removable housing for your GoPro. The company's trigger pistol grip, as previously mentioned, also functions with it.
Surf housings for GoPro
So far, we've described every accessory component required to get excellent surf footage with a GoPro. But if you want everything, you might think about a specific GoPro surf housing.
GoPro surf housings are highly durable in a compact housing. They are made to maximise the potential of your GoPro. The majority of housings are made of tough plastic, which helps your GoPro system endure harsh environments and conditions.
GoPro's popularity in surf photography has skyrocketed thanks to its affordable price and small size. But its adaptability and customisability are what really make it appealing. The GoPro can be a significant benefit to a surf photographer with only a few accessories, whether you want to just mount the camera to your head and let it roll or take advantage of its outstanding features with a pistol trigger and additional dome port.
How to maximise the potential of your GoPro
These days, every surfer worth his salt owns a GoPro camera. Whether it's six feet of perfection or a half-foot shore-break, there will be hours of pleasure. Your imagination will be blown by the quality of the photos and videos you can capture using these amazing small cameras. Use one of the cool board mounts to photograph yourself, or shoot your friends alternately, or be creative with some empty wave photos. Pro surfer and GoPro enthusiast Alan Stokes offers his advice on how to win big.
It's crucial to maintain the housing's seal's cleanliness. To prevent leaks, always wash it out. In order to prevent camera smearing in warm, sunny weather, make sure you set up the camera before using sunblock. When traveling, store your GoPro in a sock or cover to prevent scratches and damage. If you take care of your equipment, it will last a long time. It's a good idea to wear earplugs if you're shooting your friends or trying to obtain empty barrel shots because you'll be taking some waves to the head.