GOPRO DOME PORT FOR OVER/UNDER SPLIT SHOT WATER PHOTOGRAPHY
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 GoPro dome port with my GoPro Hero 5.
In this article, 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.
Click Here if you want to check out the exact GoPro dome port I use.
It’s super cheap and gets some shots you would expect from a fancy DSLR underwater setup.
The GoPro dome port works by creating a glass bubble barrier in front of your camera lens, which enables to GoPro to capture half of the image underwater and half over. All you need to do is put the GoPro on the back of the dome and tighten two screws. The GoPro Hero 5 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.
How to do a split photo with a GoPro dome port
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.
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 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. You can get Adobe Lightroom for $9.99 a month, which comes in a package for photoshop. Perfect for photographers and creators. Click Here to check out the Adobe Photographer package.
The shots you get with the GoPro Hero 5 and a GoPro dome are just so extraordinary and such a unique perspective you can turn any scene into an amazing photo.
*** Although these domes can produce great shots they do seem to have a limitation. If you try and shoot directly into the sun, the rim of the casing shows up in the image and is all but impossible to remove unless you spend a decent amount of time in Photoshop. Rarely do you want to shoot directly into the sun so it is not a big issue and for the price of the dome it wouldn’t stop me from labeling it a valuable accessory?
Examples of the issue when shooting directly into the sun:
The best GoPro dome port for split shot underwater photography
The best part about the GoPro dome port is that is quite inexpensive. Underwater photography is generally not a cheap game. 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 GoPro underwater dome port is only about $50 depending on exactly which style you go with.
When it comes to finding a GoPro dome port on Amazon you really have two options. They are both very similar in quality but one has a trigger handle which is a handy addition to help stabilization and accuracy. I personally have the Shoot dome port underwater housing, which I used for all of the photos in this article. However, if I had my time again I might purchase the Vicdozia Telesin dome port, which has the trigger. It’s the number 1 ranked GoPro dome port on Amazon although as you can see they both work well.
The other factor to consider is the size of the dome. The larger the dome is 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.
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 we are taking six to seven the cost of a GoPro and a GoPro dome port.
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.
** Make sure you select the correct dome for your version of GoPro. The Hero 4 and Hero 5 are different sizes and require a different dome.