The GoPro camera has taken photography and video capture to new heights, quite literally. This small camera can be put in the most extreme locations and situations to capture amazing footage. And for the most part you can pretty much start shooting out of the box. But in order to capture the images that wow and amaze there are some tweaks and settings you need to take into account before you throw the GoPro on a selfie stick and start shooting.

1) Pre-think your shoot

That video you saw of wingsuits flying across the Hudson River didn’t happen on a whim and if possible your shoot shouldn’t either. If you know you are going boogie boarding and will be bringing your GoPro with you, think ahead as to what kind of video or pictures you expect to get and work backwards to figure out how you’re going to accomplish it.

For the video clip below I thought ahead as to the type of shots I wanted to incorporate into the video and planned ahead, making sure to bring any additional equipment that would help me capture the shots I wanted to get.

2) Know your camera’s setting and features.

All cameras, whether video or still frame, work under the same principles of exposure; you have you aperture size, your shutter speed and the sensitivity of your “film” known as your ISO. GoPro handles all three automatically out of the box, but you do have some say in the matter.

Under the ProTune feature menu you can use the GoPro’s exposure compensation to adjust how much over or under exposure your particular scene requires. Under ProTune you can also adjust the camera’s white balance to warm up or cool down the color tone of you footage as well as set the max ISO you’d like.

Keep in mind that with the GoPro’s white balance you have:

  • Auto*
  • 3000K (use in warm light such as incandescent, sunrise/sunset)
  • 5500K (for use in slightly cool light, eg. cool fluorescent, average daylight)
  • 6500K (use in cool, blue, overcast conditions)
  • CAM RAW (This gives you no compensation)
  • Native (standardized color) for the Hero

And as far as Exposure compensation you have a Range from -2 to +2, in 0.5 step increments:

  • +2.0
  • +1.5
  • +1.0
  • +0.5
  • +0.0*
  • -0.5
  • -1.0
  • -1.5
  • -2.0

Do you need to get into these settings? Not necessarily. Are there more settings under ProTune you can tweak? Yes, but the idea here is to get you to tweak and shooting without overwhelming you with settings you might not necessarily affect the quality of you shoot. This is not the blog post for that. But if you have the time to set up for a spectacular sunset shot over, let’s say, the Smokey Mountains, take your time to follow tip number one and pre-think what kind of footage you want and plan accordingly.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that the GoPro also does the focusing for you. It’s essentially set to infinity and at F2.8. The longer the distance between the subject and the camera will dictate the focal length of your shot. What you can do is…

3) Control your frame rate.

With most action shots the first shot and the last are not necessarily the optimal images of the shoot. Somewhere in the middle of the set is the perfect shot where the sun is peaking through the clouds just right, your foot is over the handle bar at the right angle and your facial expression is just right. You achieve this by shooting through the action sequence and setting how many frames per second you are capturing. Your options are 3, 5 and 10 frames per second.

If your shooting video you also have frame rate options. This can be found under the tools menu when you are in video mode and the can vary between 24 and 120 FPS, depending on the model of GoPro you have and the resolution setting you are on. Note that the higher the frame rate, the slower the motion in the shot. This is how you achieve those smooth gliding underwater shots and ethereal video of you flying through the Grand Canyon.

4) Know what accessories you’ll need to bring along.

One of GoPro system’s strength is the amazing array of accessories available for it. Going out for a day at the beach with your dog, why not bring the GoPro Fetch Mount‎ and attached the camera to Fido for a dog’s eye view of the world. Heading into deeper waters for some snorkeling, GoPro’s Bobber handle might be a good idea. If you plan ahead you’ll have the time to grab the gear you’ll need for a great shoot.

Ready to capture your next adventure? Good luck and have Fun!