3 Tips for GoPro Underwater Video

Underwater video helps share our ocean experiences with the rest of the world. GoPro cameras make it really easy to capture these spectacular scenes, putting professional video capabilities in the hands of many new videographers.

But you want to stand out from the crowd.

You want to wow your viewers.

Use these 3 tips for GoPro underwater video and you’ll be well on your way!

Get Close to Your Subject

I often hear from GoPro shooters that their underwater video subjects look distant and lack clarity underwater. Think of shooting through ocean water as shooting through a heavy mist. Once your subject is 20, 30 or 40 feet away, the water molecules between the camera and the subject create a hazy image. The same idea applies underwater, except with particulate and plankton instead of droplets.

In addition to underwater visibility (water clarity), the wide field of view of the GoPro lens makes subjects seem far away… even when using Linear FOV.

Our first GoPro underwater video tip is to get closer to your subject. Not only do you eliminate tons of water (and particulate) between you and the subject, but your subject will naturally appear larger in the frame. This new composition approach will make your video footage POP, deliver better color and contrast in the subject, and inherently create more interest.

Keep Your GoPro Steady

This tip is so important for underwater video. We’ve all likely seen clips shot on a selfie stick that wobble, weave, and bounce around, sometimes with the subject zooming in and out of the frame as the GoPro moves around.

The best way to keep your GoPro steady is to be conscious that you are actively filming video while also using a nice tray and handle setup.

This tip is so important that I’ve created an entire tutorial on the subject:

How to Keep Your GoPro Steady

how to keep your gopro steady tutorial thumbnail

Capture Great Color

Our third tip for GoPro underwater video builds on #1 and #2. Once you’re close to your subject and shooting stable footage, you will take your video to the next level by using the appropriate tools to capture vibrant color.

Before we jump in there we need to address white balance. If you’re a new shooter, just leave the white balance on auto. If you’re familiar with color grading during post-production (and want to edit at this level of detail), then you likely want to shoot in Protune mode. Learn more in my tutorial for the Best GoPro Underwater Settings.

Capturing great color in your GoPro underwater video can be done in three ways.

Use Video Lights

Use video lights if you have a subject within a few feet of the camera. Examples include a coral head, dive buddy, manta ray, and friendly sea lion.

Use GoPro Filters

If you’re deeper than about 15 feet and don’t have an obvious subject a few feet away, it’s time to use a red filter.

Shoot Ambient Light at the Surface

GoPro filters can only help so much. They’re designed for use in deeper water (although some snorkel filters exist), and will put a red color cast on your underwater video within the first 10-15 feet. When you’re at the surface, shoot without a filter while keeping the sun at your back.

What are the Best GoPro Lights and Filters?

Watch my Video:

GoPro Filters and Color Correction

GoPro Filters and Video Lights

And that’s it. Study these GoPro underwater video tips and you’ll be bringing home great clips from your next dive trip, whether you’re scuba diving, snorkeling or freediving.

Brent Durand

Professional writer and underwater photo instructor. Brent is an avid diver and surfer, and has led many intensive photo workshops around the world. BrentDurand.com.