This past weekend we packed up the car and headed to the San Joaquin Valley for our family’s annual gathering, aka ‘The Guerrero Games’. It’s our annual family reunion held over two days with an athletic competition similar to a decathalon as the centerpiece. Learn more HERE.
Heading into this year’s gathering, I was jonesing to cover the ‘Games in a new way. Saturday and Sunday at the Reunion comes and goes pretty quickly; lots of people to visit with, competing in the athletic events, and my latest and greatest role… DAD (as of 2 months ago). Suffice it to say there’s not much time for complex camera setups or numerous test shots. And much like sports photography, there are no ‘do-overs’. These circumstances are constraints and in a world of virtually endless tech options I wecome a constraint or two every now and then, it’s a catalyst for creativity.
Hunting for a new photographic take on the Games I turned to the GoPro Hero 3, the people’s champion of action cameras. Most often we’ll see this little powerhouse used in first-person-perspectives for surfing, mountain biking, base jumping, and other action sports. Results vary from original to ubiquitous. For me, I was simply trying to bring a new and different point of view to our family’s trove of memories.
For most of the shots that I captured on the GoPro, I had it attached to the end of a long pole which offered a completely different view from how we typically see the action. At 2.6 oz this camera can be mounted to just about anything you can imagine, and in this case I used this light bulb changing pole, made of aluminum, purchased at Home Depot for less than $25. Adapting the end with a 1/4 – 20 screw thread on a collar ($10) allowed me to use the tripod mount accessory ($8) to attach the GoPro. So for less than $50 you get a DIY boom for the GoPro with an 11 ft reach! (Psss…. this also doubles as a very economical boom for microphones.)
Depending on the type of action and speed of motion, I alternated from time lapse to burst mode to capture the photos shown here. For example, the rope climb photo utilized the 10 shots/2 seconds burst mode as I tried to capture the penultimate move as my cousin approached the top, whereas the long jump photo was captured with 30/3 burst mode and in post I paired the final photo down to the six most interesting clips from run-up to landing in the pit. Rope climb photo was post processed (on the iPhone 4s) with VSCO Cam, my new favorite app!
Using the Go Pro App v2.0 (available on iOS and Android) is a must for full control, live preview, and reviewing captured photos on your mobile device. With the GoPro App I was able to time the action, hit the shutter/record button on command, review the photos and make adjustments to the composition or camera settings as necessary.
Speed Bump 1: Prepping to capture the swimming event, I found when locating the camera six feet under water, with me above, dry and on the deck of the pool, the wifi signal to control the camera dropped. Making adjustments on the fly, I changed to time lapse setting, hit record and submerged the camera to capture the swimming photo below.
Speed Bump 2: For whatever reason, the GoPro App chose not to sync on Day 2 of the Games. Maybe it was tired and lethargic from the hot Valley sun, I know I was. Today, sitting in the soft climate of LA it syncs fine. Nevertheless, for the Long Jump and Sprints I was restricted to eyeballing the composition of my shots rather than the Live Preview afforded by a fully working App. FYI, for those of you new to the GoPro suite, they make an LCD Touch BacPac that gives a live preview, but I decided to save $79.99 and use the App.
Here’s my favorite photo from the Sprints, hoisted atop the 11 foot DIY pole, the camera captured the down-to-the-wire action as my two cousins dashed toward the finish.
Additional GoPro shots mixed with some coverage provided by the D800 are in the Reunion’s Gallery over at Guerrero Stories.
Do you have any GoPro tips, questions or nuggets of advice? If so, feel free to share.