GoPro Tips and Tools for Dads

We only have one little grommet running around when we go on family outings (for now) but still it forces my love of photography and taking portraits into the back seat. Between wrangling the dude, prepping and schlepping for the dude and just soaking up the natural beauty we came to see, taking photos with my big DSLR or even my plain old point and shoot has taken a back seat to quick snapshots from my iPhone. But I recently replaced my old GoPro with the new Go Pro Hero2 helmet camera and it is beginning to change the way I approach taking video and even photos of the family and documenting our outdoor activities.

5 Tips for Documenting Family Outings With a GoPro

1) Time Lapse Portraits & The Family Photo Singularity

Family Yosemite GoPro photo

This photo was captured using GoPro’s time lapse mode.

Trying to capture the perfect group or family portrait in one click is never going to happen. Best you can do is get it in 5 of so repetitions of “look at the camera dude, hay dude, lookiee here! Hay buddy, buddybuddybuddy…” You look and feel like a tool. But with a GoPro on time lapse mode you just stand there and pretend there is some amazing sight just behind the camera, no pressure, no fuss, no time crunch. When you get home just pull the photos up and toggle through until you find the perfect one. No editing and using “the cloud” to composite multiple images. The law of conservation of gawking requires that at some point everyone is going to be looking in the general direction of the camera making an reasonably acceptable face for your christmas card. Or better yet, you capture a funny moment you never could have gotten otherwise.

2) Time Lapse Video With a GoPro

If you have enough images from the above experiment, or if you purposely extend the length of the time lapse session you can get enough to make a little video. I like to do this when setting up the tent, having a snack or sitting around the camp fire. The easiest way to do this is to use Quicktime Pro to create a video where each frame is a photograph in a sequence. Then just upload the resulting video to Vimeo.
A good frame rate (number of images needed for each second of video footage) is 12 FPS (frames per second). The GoPro will take an image every second, so you’ll need 360 images to make a 30 second clip which is 6 minutes of pose time.

3) Follow Video

It’s cool to get follow video of some spectacular hikes, like the one we recently took to Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park. The GoPro has a super wide angle lens so if you get right up behind the person you want to follow you’ll get a great dynamic view of them and the scenery. Getting a person in the shot brings the viewer into the scene and makes them feel like there there experiencing it with you as opposed the just mounting the camera to your head where you don’t see a person you care about in the image.

4) Self Panoramas

Everyone loves the self portrait with the camera at the end of their arm. I’ve even heard people decline an offer from a stranger to take a photo for them saying, “no thanks, this is our signature shot!” Video makes this cool too. Just hold the GoPro out pointing back at yourself and slowly pan around in a circle. You can do this in time lapse mode as well, and if you are good with photoshop you could make a 360 degree image.

5) Let your kid cary the camera

Kids love cameras. But even my Sony TX10, while being shockproof and waterproof, is too fragile for me to put it into my son’s hands unsupervised. The GoPro however is indestructible. More or less. The one thing my son could do to hurt picture quality, scratch the lens, is replaceable. But setting the camera on interval mode and popping it into your kids hand while he explores a creek or rides in the kid pack, could net some fun images…

Essential GoPro Gear For Dads

1) The GoPro Tripod Mount

GoPro Tripod Mount

This lets you mount your GoPro action camera on a regular 1/4 x 20 tripod mount.

This lets you mount the GoPro camera to a tripod so that you can set up to do some of the above GoPro tricks. The GoPro Tripod Mount is just a small platform with a 1/4 by 20 threaded tripod mount. Without this, the camera won’t sit or balance on anything as it’s shape isn’t like a regular camera.

2) A Big SD card

All of the tips above are memory intensive. If you want to go a whole weekend without swapping cards, you’ll need at least a 16 GB SD memory card. SanDisk Ultra 64GB Ultra Micro SDXC UHS-I/Class 10 Card with Adapter (SDSQUNC-064G-GN6MA) [Newest Version] is a good SD card for the new GoPro cameras.
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3) Photography and Cinema Pistol Grip

Photography and Cinema Pistol Grip Handle

A great tool for using your GoPro as a camcorder.

This thing is AWESOME for using with a GoPro. I used it to shoot the entire video below when I tool my son and his cousin Kayaking at Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe. The grip and the GoPro tripod mount let you hand hold video and photos steadily. You can use the pistol grip to bungie the camera to things using simple bungie straps like the ones below, or use the straps on backpacks, kayaks or anything else. The pistol grip also can be used as base to prop the camera up on a rock for shots as you paddle, hike or ride by for cool perspective shots.

4) Joby Tripod

Joby GoPro Tripod

This is a great tool for using your GoPro to capture family moments.

I use the basic Joby Gorillapod flexible tripod. It works perfectly for small cameras like my Sony TX10 and the GoPro. It’s always in the pack when we go hiking and I use it almost every time. I also have a Joby Flashlight that is mounted on a small gorilapod that has magnets on the feet. It’s super handy, so if you think you’ll be using your GoPro around iron rich metals, check out the Joby Gorillapod Magnetic Tripod. Buy the Joby Tripod for GoPro on Amazon.

5) The GoPro LCD Bacpac OR The GoPro Wifi Bacpac

I go back and forth on these. I don’t have either, but I am about to drop the bomb on one of them. The GoPro LCD screen is of obvious value as it lets you see what you are shooting, which is good for hand holding follow shots and setting up portraits. But the WiFi Backpack lets you start and stop the GoPro remotely and the iPhone and Android apps let you view the shot as well. For my money, I’ll probably get the GoPro WiFi Backpack. Obviously, you can’t use them both at the same time; obviously, you would never need to.
There are great deals on GoPro cameras and accessories from the links below.

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  • raymon

    excellent post sir

    • http://Www.gizzardstone.com/ Mike Henderson

      Thanks Ray!

      -M

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  • http://twitter.com/tpaw Tom Pawson

    Fantastic post Mike! Very informative and helpful. Thank you for the tips. 

  • RyanB

    For the family photos at the top how did you flatten out the photo and black out the edges so it doesn’t look fish eyed and distorted? (PS great article).

    • http://Www.gizzardstone.com/ Mike Henderson

      Ryan,

      I edit photos like this with iPhoto. There’s a vignette filter that darkens the edges and you can crop them as well. As for the fish eye effect, for everything here I did nothing to correct it. I think you have to get more sophisticated than iPhoto or other simple photo editing tools to remove the fish eye effect. Generally, though unless things are REALLY close to the lens it isn’t that noticeable.

      -Mike

      • RyanB

        Hey thanks so much for the quick reply, I’m going away for a month to Vietnam and am trying to decide if I could take all my holiday photos on just the hero3 silver to avoid taking a separate compact. Judging from your pictures I think I can get away with it.

        • http://Www.gizzardstone.com/ Mike Henderson

          You’ll want the LCD screen for it. and maybe the grip and joby too if you want to use the time lapse trick. And lots and lots of memory…

          Do share your pics when you get back!

          -Mike

  • Jnr Mc

    Thank you, you have sold me on the idea of a gopro

  • Jacob Byers

    Great article! You read my mind!been trying to decide if I should get one and this really helps!