Tiki Tips: Shooting with a Dome
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Hello and welcome back!
I thought I would switch it up this week and give a little bit of my own trial and error findings for shooting on a Dome to get those split over/under water shots. I got my dome a year or so ago, and while I don't break it out as much as I'd like, I do love using it because it provides some really fun shots! I will be getting it out more now that I have the Nu Grip, which is compatible with my dome! However, I was too excited to hit the water with it in the beginning, and didn't think of what I might need to focus on. So, here are my tried and true- both researched and self taught- tips for your adventures with a dome.
Tip 1: SETUP. This is one of the most important and inclusive tips I would recommend reading. We are going to quickly discuss fogging, prep, and protection. Especially in humid locations, such as central Florida, you want to have a method of keeping your dome from fogging up. There are methods such as anti fog strips, desiccants (silica moisture packets) , and anti fog gel. I like to use the same gel I apply to my dive mask, and I put it on my camera lens and outer dome lens. Further, I also blast the AC in it from my car for a couple minutes to pull moisture out and then immediately insert my Go Pro, and avoid taking it out if at all possible. Setting up like this, in a cool space, and taking your time, is extremely important. You don't want to rush things, so take a breath: you will reach the adventure soon! As far as protection goes, you want to be very careful not to scratch your dome on the inside or outside. Scratches may sometimes show up in pictures and aren't ideal. I actually wrap mine in a really cheap sports bra, as the straps on the back wrap perfectly around and catch on the back mounting system. It is soft material, and lightweight. Of course, you could also buy a case or used a soft sided small cooler to protect it before and after use.
Tip 2: ANGLES. Everyone likes to use the right angle for a good photo, and this is no different. When shooting 50/50 shots, I prefer to angle the dome slightly down. Especially if photographing a person, this keeps everything looking proportional. Remember that water acts as a magnifier, so when filming or photographing a person, if they are partially submerged and shot straight on instead of with a slight down angle, they will appear disproportionate, and we don't want that! Another thing to keep in mind is where the sun is. Try to angle yourself to have the sun at your back, or else you may see the reflection of the GoPro in the dome if the sun is shining straight on it.
Tip 3: DROPLETS. Those little suckers can ruin a beautiful shot, so try to keep the top portion of the dome dry if you can. Also, along with the anti-fog, I put Rain-X on my dome to help wick off water without spotting or streaking. A pre shot tip, is if you are in your car blast the AC and hold your dome up to it to bring the temperature inside down, and then immediately put your GoPro in, keep it in the shade until you are ready to start shooting, and don't mess with it! This will help keep the inside temperature of the dome cooler to match the temperature of the water and fight off any drops caused by humidity and temperature differences. If shooting somewhere where you can have a microfiber rag, I suggest taking it with you, and leaving it on your nearby kayak, boat, or other mode of dry flotation. This way, if you do go underwater for a shot or accidentally get it wet, you can wipe it back off before resuming your session. However, sometimes it happens despite our best efforts, and occasionally can look really fun and add to the creativity of the photo. If this happens though, and you don't realize until later but don't want those drops, try editing the droplets out. It usually isn't too difficult and can bring your photo back to your 'keep' folder.
Tip 4: CONDITIONS. A few conditions can really make or break your photo shoot. Try shooting in calm water where waves or currents aren't washing over your dome. If you can find somewhere shallow to shoot and stand, it can help keep your photo sharper. I think this goes without saying, but the clearer the visibility of the water, the better the outcome. Dark murky water doesn't show up the best. Additionally, the brighter and clearer the outside weather, the better your photos and videos will turn out.
Tip 5: SETTINGS. Some like to shoot with Red filter overlay on when they are underwater, but I like to shoot in RAW and play with the colors and editing afterwards. It may seem like an extra step to some, but it is definitely my preference for having great and accurate colorful photos and videos when it's all said and done. Most shoot in burst mode, I like to do that in combination with video in 2.7k at 120 fps. I prefer to shoot in medium FOV for split shots, and wide or super wide for fully underwater shots.
I hope to get out there and try my new Selfie Stick Dome ideas with it mounted on my Nu Grip, as I have only ever photographed other people or been photographed. This may help me get some really cool pictures of myself for when I don't have a photography partner! On top of this, mounting your Dome on the Nu Grip, you can set it up in tripod mode when not in use, and this will prevent it from laying in sand or grass that could potentially scratch the surface. Stay tuned for more info next week!
Until Next Time,