An over-under shot is one of the best ways to bring to life an underwater scene with a unique perspective. Some of my favorite ocean and waterfall photos are split photos created by my Telesin GoPro dome port and my GoPro Hero 12 Black. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll dive deep into the world of dome ports, exploring their benefits, helping you choose the right one, and offering tips on how to make the most of this incredible accessory.I’m going to teach you how to get a split GoPro shot as well as showing you what I use and why you don’t need to spend big to create an over-under image.
How does the Gopro dome port work
The Telesin GoPro dome port works by creating a glass bubble barrier in front of your camera lens, which seperates the camera lens from the water by about 70mm. This space enables the GoPro to capture half of the image underwater and half over. You basically aim the center of the camera at the surface of the water and then shoot in burst mode to try and get the perfect split shot frame. All you need to do is put the GoPro on the back of the dome and tighten two screws. The GoPro Hero 12 Black remains in the casing so even if the GoPro Dome port breaks, it will still be protected and it’s waterproof anyway so we are talking about three layers of protection.
Best Settings for a GoPro Dome Split Shot
Depending on which GoPro dome port you are using, you will have to configure the settings of each shooting mode before placing it in the housing. I set my camera mode to burst mode. This is the most important factor of creating GoPro dome pictures. For example, a normal shot which captures one photo when you press the button is labeled as 1/1. You can call it one click one photo. However, in burst mode, you can choose 5/1 or 10/1 or even 30/1. That means you can take 30 photos when you press the button giving you a better probability of having an appealing over/under shot.
This is important because you want to get the perfect moment when the water is half and half rather than 70/30. You can always delete the photos later but more is better when shooting over-under.
It is especially important in the ocean when there are waves. If you are in a still swimming pool you may only need one shot but when there are waves involved and you are floating burst mode is a must.
How to compose a split photo with a GoPro dome port
Now that you know how to set up the Telesin GoPro dome port and you are shooting in burst mode, you need to focus on the composition. I personally shoot in wide angle mode so I can get the landscape in the background and have a wide field of view to work with. There are a few things to consider.
- Do you want the shot to be 50/50, 60/40 or 80/20? What is the subject of your shot and what does the over aspect or under aspect add to it? For example, you might only want a small of the photo to show above the surface because the person swimming underwater is vertical and taking up a lot of the frame.
- Make sure if you are shooting the wide angle, that the person in the image is close to the camera. In my examples, the person swimming was only 1-2 meters from the camera which makes them the focus of the GoPro split photo.
- Having an object or landscape in the above water section of the split photo can often add to the image. It is not imperative as often just seeing above the water is a unique perspective but in these examples having someone cliff jumping, or a house above the water adds something extra to the shot.
- Editing the photo will make a big difference to your end result. I use Adobe Lightroomto bump up the contrast and clarity that is lost in the regular GoPro image. I have included a before and after below.
The best GoPro dome port for split shot underwater photography
The best part about the Telesin GoPro dome port is that is quite inexpensive. Underwater photography is generally not a cheap game. A DSLR housing can cost up to 2,000, which is why most of us stick with the GoPro. So it’s great news that the Telesin GoPro dome port is only about $50. The dome port is an absolute must in the tropics and something you should definitely add to your Bali Packing List and Philippines Packing List.
When it comes to finding a GoPro dome port on Amazon there are a few things to consider. Does the dome have a trigger handle for easier shooting and how big is the dome. The larger the dome, the better the split of over and under. For example, a 4-inch dome port is closer to the lens so the split isn’t as fine as a 6-inch dome port. It’s also great to have a trigger shutter instead of having to press a button. This makes it easier to shoot each photo while in the water.
I personally have the Telesin GoPro dome port, which I used for all of the photos in this article. It’s the number 1 ranked GoPro dome port on Amazon.
I think it’s awesome you can grab a cheap GoPro dome and still create the over under look that costs thousands to achieve on a DSLR underwater setup. The quality might be a little sharper on a DSLR with a housing but the cost is 6-7 times more!
Whichever model you choose to buy make sure you have a hand-strap included. The GoPro dome port floats because of the air inside the glass bubble, but you don’t want to lose your grip on the dome and have it float away or lost in the current depending on the conditions you are swimming in. Therefore a small cord around the wrist is a perfect fix. Most models will include this.
Shoot away from the sun with your GoPro Dome Port
Shooting into the sun with a GoPro dome port is not recommended for several reasons. It can result in overexposed and washed-out images, as the intense light can overwhelm the camera’s capabilities, leading to loss of details and contrast. Additionally, lens flare and unwanted reflections are common when shooting into the sun, further degrading the quality of your footage or photos. To capture stunning underwater or overwater shots with a GoPro dome port, it’s advisable to position yourself with the sun at your back or to the side, ensuring better exposure and composition and avoiding strange reflections from within the dome.
These are some other cool shots I have created with my Telesin GoPro dome port.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the best GoPro dome port for creating over/under split-shot photography in the water.