Five Tips for Snorkeling with a GoPro
snorkeler using gopro underwater

GoPro cameras have become probably the most popular camera for snorkeling, and for a number or solid reasons. Their small size is perfect for traveling, not to mention all GoPro’s from the Hero 5 on are waterproof to certain depths without a housing. That being said, it’s wise to use a housing for added security. Even though the GoPro’s are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand they pack a serious punch where image quality is concerned-both in the film and photo department as they offer 4K footage and a solid 12 megapixel photo with RAW format capabilities. However, despite all of these stellar specs and intuitive design—I see a lot of people struggling with their GoPro cameras in a variety of areas. So, to hopefully alleviate some of these camera issues to make your snorkeling experience better, I’ve put together a quick list of the most common problems I see with simple remedies.  Here we go. 

I never edit my footage because I always have too much

If you’re one of those people who strap the GoPro on your wrist and swim around with your arm constantly extended like Mega man while the camera records the entirety of the snorkel session…herein lies your problem. It’s a good idea to fall into the habit of pressing record only when you want to film something. Just by doing this you will then have a series of short clips which are easy to scroll though so you can find the exact moment you are looking for, rather than scrubbing through hours of dizzying footage. 

Everything I film looks so small and far away

All GoPro’s are equipped with a very wide fish eye lens which causes this effect. This is a good thing though as a really wide lens is the best for underwater imaging, so long as we keep one simple thing in mind. Get closer! We need to get close to our subjects-as close a physically possible without damaging the reef or bothering the subject. This will improve the overall clarity of your image as we are now shooting though less water while filling the frame with the subject. The GoPro lens is best for large subjects like turtles-mantas-and reefcapes. Shy subjects who prefer to keep their distance are not ideal subjects to concentrate on, take a mental photo and move on. 

The colors keep changing when I’m filming

This is a white balance issue and is a result of the Auto White Balance (AWB) trying to figure out what white balance setting is best for the constantly changing light underwater. The best thing to do is to turn off the AWB so it’s set to a single color temperature. 

My red filter makes everything looks super red and turns the water purple.

The reason for this is because you are using a red filter that is too strong, or too red. We use stronger red filters when we go deeper to compensate for the lack of red. However, since we are snorkeling and our subjects in the shallows we need just a bit of red. Switching to a lighter shade of red—something that will work up to five meters or fifteen feet in depth—will alleviate any unappealing colors and bring out the natural colors of our subjects.

My videos and photos are always very shaky and blurry.

To create more steady videos and sharp photos takes a bit of practice, and possibly some simple accessories. As snorkelers we are constantly being moved around by the waves on the surface—no matter how flat the water may seem so we need to be extra aware of this. When you see something you want to film or photograph try to duck dive down a bit, even a meter will make a huge difference. Another thing that will help will be to ditch the selfie stick and mount your camera on a tray with a single or double handle. After all, when is the last time we saw a professional camera operator using a selfie stick in the field? 

About Author

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Alex Lindbloom
Alex is a Snorkel Venture guide as well as one of the video and photo pros for the company. Prior to joining Snorkel Venture in 2018 Alex lived and worked all over the world as an underwater cameraman, including five years on a boat in Indonesia. Alex's images and videos have garnered many international awards and can be seen on NatGeo, Disvocery Channel, the UN Building, and various magazines.