GoPro and other (cheaper) POV (point of view) action cams are readily available and not all will break the bank. Your social media stream will feature a whole host of SUP selfie obsessed individuals who document their stand up paddling adventures on water – some more others. But there’s more to nailing ‘the shot’ than you’d guess.
Particularly GoPro, but with other action cams having a variety of settings, you’ll need to get yours sorted before going near the water. You then need to choose the correct mount for the shot in mind. Finally, learning to actually use your kit will be time well spent. A degree of trial and error will be needed first.
Whether paddling in waves, on flat water or running white water there’ll be better mounts and angles to help get the desired capture. The easiest SUP images to shoot are flat water paddling pics. Simply choose a sunny day, attach your camto the paddle’s shaft and hold aloft with it pointing down, to the side or rear. Move your paddle about according to the light and you’ll get a variety of different pics. This is signed and sealed within a few takes.
SUPing in waves is slightly trickier. Some riders have the cam perched on top of their paddle, blade up with the camera offset slightly to the left. During the bottom turn the rider can hold the paddle skyward and slightly to the rear. If it all comes together I’ll have snapped a dynamic looking image of a bottom turn. The more dynamic the surfer is the better looking the shot. Top turns are trickier still as riders need to stick the paddle in the wave at the apex of the turn thus making for a naff paddle shaft mounted shot. We have it good authority that windsurf harness mounted cams can make these images appear better as they let the surfer do their thing whilst snapping away remotely, behind. But if you don’t have access to one (or aren’t comfortable using it) then sticking with the paddle mounted formula is fine.
In terms of settings it’s usually better to have the cam wound up to 1080p as this gives highest image resolution. Flicking to time lapse mode, with a shutter speed of 0.5s, ensures all the action is captured. It may seem excessive but SUP moves happen fast can happen fast. Quick fire snaps allow moves to nailed. There’ll (literally) be thousands of images to wade through upon getting in front of your laptop, however. And out of the whole lot you’ll probably end up with a handful of good ones. But when you do strike gold shot you’ll be super happy and quickly want to share it with the world!
Action cam POV images can also be a useful tool in terms of analysing technique – either photo or video. There’s no better way of measuring what hands, feet and body are up to. Suddenly, discovering that one flaw halting progression may be discovered. They can be a good teaching aid as well as vanity tool.
Shoot yourself action cam tips.
- Over egg the pudding – if you really want a dynamic shot then up the ante. POV action cams ‘flatten’ everything so over accentuating movements is a good idea.
- Familiarise yourself with different mounting options and positions (and tools to help achieve these) – a degree of initial experimentation will yield best results. You have to almost learn how to use your action camera for best results.
- Make sure the cam has full charge and an empty SD card with enough storage space for lots of files! There’s nothing worse than being ready to hit the water only to discover you’ve no battery, the SD card’s missing or it’s full.
- If you want good images you can utilise the video setting and screen grab stills later. Be aware these look rubbish when blown up to full size.
- Use a float and leash otherwise your cam could end up down with Davey Jones’ Locker – many an action camera has ended up at the bottom of the sea.
- For a different view try attaching your cam to a solid object, such as marker pole, and paddle past it. Just remember to get close and retrieve your camera when done!
- McConks stand up paddle boards come with camera mounts of the noses. These can be a good angle so be sure to test it out.
- Get a paddling buddy to shoot you from their board or from the water. Just be sure to get in close, although don’t run them over!
Let us know what your POV action cam SUP photography tips are.