Ultimate Guide to Underwater GoPro Photography
Waterproof? We got it. Water proven? We’ll show you. We all know GoPro action cameras are waterproof, and the proof is in performance. So we caught up with clarity king and longtime GoPro Family member Mitch Gilmore to share his secrets about how he uses HERO8 Black as his go-to waterproof camera to capture wave photography on the Gold Coast of Australia.
GoPro: When did you first start using GoPro cameras?
Mitch: I picked up a HERO3 in winter 2014 to combat the boredom of my unemployment at that time. I used it to capture everything from sunrises and skateboard trips to shops and surfing. I’ll never forget kicking my surfboard to the shore one session to prioritize taking photos of my brother surfing. Once I got home and checked my SD card, I was hooked on GoPro action photography.
Has GoPro influenced your photography, both in your passions and as a career?
It was a slow takeoff for me. I would take photos of any style of wave, whether it was messy or clean conditions. It wasn’t until I had my first session in crystal-clear water that I really decided clarity is the style I wanted to chase. The feeling of swimming around in insanely clear water is so amazing and being able to share that with the world using a waterproof action camera tops it off.
Do you see action cameras being used a lot by your peers?
Everyone I know in my photography circle owns a GoPro or wishes they did. I think these days, with the quality of GoPro videos and stills, water photographers have a respect that the GoPro camera is no longer just an "action cam.” It’s a necessary part of your camera gear arsenal.
What would you consider your photography specialty?
Clarity. Check my Instagram; everyone that knows me or follows me has an exact understanding of my style—clear water, clear sky and small waves. That’s my type of photography heaven.
So wave photography is what you’re known for, but you shoot people, too. Does your approach for getting the shot change?
Subject shoots can be extremely difficult at first when you’re underwater and not wearing goggles because you are essentially blind to knowing if your subject is in frame. Luckily, the wide field of view on GoPro makes it much easier to keep the subject in frame. Perfecting this takes time, practice and patience, but getting to know the different digital lenses on HERO8 Black will help.
What is your go-to GoPro setting for underwater content?
My go-to is Burst Mode. I have shot with a GoPro ever since HERO3 and this high frame rate photo mode allows you to nail the exact photo you’re looking for. I shoot either 30/2 (or 30 frames per 2 seconds) on HERO6 and HERO7 Black, but I shoot 30/1 or 30/3 when using the new HERO8 Black.
Let’s talk about lighting. How do you find the light when using a waterproof GoPro?
Always think about lighting. Shooting directly into the sun can cause your photos to blow out and be severely overexposed. Keep yourself between the sun and your subject (i.e. with the sun on your back) for the best possible shot and always lick your lens. Use this combo, and you’ll nail a clear shot 10 times out of 10.
What is your ultimate “Waterproof GoPro” PRO TIP?
Lick the lens before every dunk. This coats the lens in saliva (a natural water repellent) and will keep your lens clear of any droplets. No need to buy the extra products, just give your lens a good lick.