Seriously up your GoPro game with these tips from a video and photography pro

This article was created for The Travel Project by Nicolas Zimmermann, a content creator from Switzerland.

My name is Nico - I’m a 24 year old self-made adventurer and adrenaline seeker, from Switzerland. My interests, lifestyle and desire to share my adventures slowly brought me into photography and videography. By wandering all over the world and recording my adventures, my skills have gotten better and better, and now I want to share what I’ve learnt along the way.

My tips are focused on GoPros and how to use them as it is the ultimate travel tool to shoot anywhere you go. Reasons being – the small size and waterproof/shock resistant case of these cameras are just perfect if you want to go on an adventure on land, water or snow, without having to carry around a big and quite fragile DSLR camera. These cameras allow you to take insane shots!

Capturing the right shot – So here are a few tips on GoPro specific shots – how to edit both pictures and videos, and of course a few tips on how to roam this beautiful planet!

ACTION SHOTS

To take action shots like these, you need to set your GoPro to burst mode. You have a lot of different options but I always use the 30/3sec setting. This means that you just press once, and then the GoPro takes 30 photos in 3 seconds. It’s the best setting to me because it allows you to take enough pictures in an action moment e.g. throwing a back flip off a 15m cliff like I did in Ariel’s Points, Philippines, or hit a nice double in the snow like I did in that swiss winter wonderland. For a good result, the light has to be strong, otherwise, the moving object will easily come out blurred. This setting is perfect to capture a precise moment in a very short time.

If you don’t want to capture a very precise moment and have a longer time to shoot, such as taking a selfie while cruising down a frozen road, you’ll need another setting. To take that kind of picture, I always set my GoPro to Timelapse mode, set to 0.5. This means you press once and then the GoPro takes a picture every 0.5 second until you press again to stop. Afterwards, you just need to check out all the pictures and save the best one. I use this setting for most of my pole pictures. As for poles, I use the GoScope poles. They are the best to me. Very versatile as you just have to clip the GoPro to the pole, no need to screw it on or anything. The other thing is that you can clip two GoPros on one pole which allows you to shoot in different directions at once, or snap pictures and videos at the same time.

NIGHT PICTURES

GopPros allow you to take night shots as well which is pretty cool, but you do need to have a GoPro hero 4 or newer. Older GoPro cameras don’t have that setting.

First, you need to set your camera to Nightlapse mode. After that, you’ll have to set the shutter speed to the right time. In short, shutter speed defines how long your shutter will remain open and how much light it will capture. The longer it stays open, the more light it will catch. You’ll probably have to try different shutter speeds before getting the perfect shot. To capture the one above, my GoPro was set to Nightlapse with a shutter speed set to 30 seconds (the most you can make with a GoPro). Typically, to shoot the Northern Lights like I did in Tromso, Norway, or to shoot the milky way (only if very dark and no light pollution), you’ll have to set the shutter speed to 30sec. If you want to shoot something brighter such as a camp with a fire or city lights, you’ll have to set the shutter speed to 2, 5 or 10 seconds depending on how bright it is.

A very important factor for night shots is keeping the camera steady. To shoot long exposure shots like the one below, you need a tripod so that the camera doesn’t move at all or it will be blurry. If you shoot someone with a long exposure, the person you shoot has to stand completely still or it will come out blurry as well. Another important thing you can control with your GoPro is the ISO, and you can set this from 100 to 800. The higher ISO, the brighter the picture will be.

If it’s night time but bright enough thanks to a big source of light, you might not need to set your camera to nightlapse. For example the below was snapped with a basic Timelapse set to 0.5sec mode. You’ll just have to keep the camera as steady as possible otherwise it’ll come out blurred.

OVER-UNDER SHOTS

Over-under shots like these are too cool to be ignored! I snapped this in the Philippines while free-diving with whale sharks and it’s so easy to take these kind of shots, all you need is an accessory called Dome. Domes are just a big spherical glass, keeping water away from the lens of the GoPro, which allows it to see both over and under water at the same time. All you need to do is make sure that the water surface is on the middle of the dome so that the picture is half water, half air. I snapped this with Timelapse mode set to 0.5.

You can check out some of my best shots here.

CAPTURING THOSE MOMENTS THAT HAPPEN ONCE IN A LIFETIME

Some moments only happen once, but would you rather take a picture or record a video ? Well, you don’t have to make that choice if you have the right accessory. Sometimes, especially with animals, you can’t control what will happen so you want to both, and this can be done if you have two GoPros and that small mount.

This allows you to hold two cameras on one mount, taking pictures with the timelapse mode whilst recording videos with the second camera. This small thing allowed me to take the following pictures and create cool videos of these moments as well (you can find them on my YouTube channel: Zimy Da Kid).

POV SHOTS

My favourites GoPro shots are POV (Point of View) shots. There’s no special settings to shoot these, everything has been explained above. Only thing I wanted to say about these shots is that I either use a mouth mount or a clip mount that I hold in my mouth to capture them (both photos and videos). Mouth mounts are way better than head straps because you can quickly hold the GoPro and then release it and use it with your hand. Only negative thing about a mouth mount is that if you want to record the sound, you can’t speak or scream if you feel really excited about the situation! And to shoot landscapes, the footage will be far more stabilized if you hold the GoPro in your mouth, as opposed to holding it in your hand.

EDITING PICTURES

First of all, you must have the right program to edit in order to create beautiful shots! Personally, I mainly edit with Adobe Lightroom and if I need to modify the image itself, I use Photoshop. Lightroom allows you to edit colors, luminosity and all you need to make your picture look more than a thousand times better.

I also love editing with my cellphone because it’s quick and you can do just as much as on your laptop. So before going any further, you should download the Lightroom app for cellphones. Here’s an example of a before/after picture edit…

EDITING VIDEOS

I edit my videos with Adobe Premiere for the whole edit and Adobe after effects for the special effects. Instead of Adobe Premiere, you can also edit with Final Cut Pro which is pretty similar. I won’t explain how both of these programs work, but I’ll give a few tips on how to start editing, how to organize your stuff and some important things.

When you start editing, first thing is choosing the footage. It takes a long time, but you need to watch everything you shot to know what to keep in your edit. When you find good parts, put the file on Final Cut and crop it so that you only keep what you want to see in your edit. Once done, you’ll have to choose the song. It’s a very important part of the video. I’d rather choose a song that starts slow and gradually gets stronger and stronger and then explodes. The important thing for the song is that it has some particular noises that stand out so that you can make it match the edit. Beware of the copyrights as well, you don’t want to finish your whole edit and then restart it from scratch because Facebook or Instagram didn’t allow you to upload it with that song. Trust me, you don’t want it to happen. So before starting the edit, upload the song to Instagram or anything to make sure you won’t have to restart everything. Once done, you can start editing.

I love creating a sort of plan on a blank paper by hand with a timeline and the different parts of the song and what kind of footage you want to put at these specific moments. It’s very important to make your edit match your song. Slow-mo’s always look good ! Consider making a 90-100% slow-mo video, it might look very good depending on the kind of footage you have and the song you chose. But make sure you don’t over-slow the footage. Your footage has to look smooth or it won’t look good if you slow it down too much. I personally don’t really like fast forwards. You’d rather crop you footage so that we can see just a small part of it than putting a long footage and add a fast forward. Make sure not to put the same footage for too long or it will look boring for the viewer. Also make sure to correct the colors and make your footage look mint! With all that being said, there’s no miracle, you have to spend time editing – the more you create, the better it will look!

Feel free to check out my videos for some inspiration:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y16nLzePER0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu-YFlrjva4&t=7s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-dLMZBy_xc

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