Top Tips for Snorkeling with a GoPro
snorkeler using gopro underwater

GoPro cameras have become a very 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 onwards are waterproof to certain depths without a housing. That being said, it’s wise to use a housing for added flood 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 can offer up to 5K footage and a solid 27-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 that are much easier to scroll through and organize 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 close as physically possible without damaging the reef or bothering the subject. This will improve the overall clarity of your image as we are now shooting through 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. 

My red filter makes everything look super red and turns the water purple

The reason for this is that you are using a red filter that is too strong, or too red, for the depth that you are. We use stronger red filters when we go deeper to compensate for the lack of red. However, since we are snorkeling and our subjects are 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. Or, better yet, just remove the red filters and use the GoPro’s amazing auto-white balance mode as it does a fantastic job of automatically color correcting for the changing lighting scenarios.

My videos and photos are always very shaky and blurry.

Creating 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 was 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 and Dive Safari Asia guide as well as the video and photo pros for both companies. Alex is also a field editor for a popular underwater photography magazine. Prior to joining Snorkel Venture in 2018 Alex lived and worked all over the world working as an underwater cameraman, with five of those years living/working on a yacht in Indonesia. Alex's images and videos have garnered many international awards such as Underwater Photographer of the Year and can be seen on NatGeo, Discovery Channel, the UN Building, and various magazines.