12 ways to awesomise your GoPro skills

Help your GoPro take its game up a notch with these accessories, apps and shooting tips

Everyone's got a GoPro now, haven't they? Judging from the billions of hours of cycling/canoeing/climbing video all over YouTube, the answer is a resounding 'yes'. You're probably even a bit bored of your own footage by now, aren't you?

So how do you give your GoPro videos a freshen up and get them to stand out from the rest of the gnarly crowd? Why, you continue reading this page, for we have a whole bunch of tips, trick, apps and accessories to help you better capture the action.

Just make sure you also do something that's actually worth watching, yeah? That mammoth Monopoly match isn't going to be worth a watch no matter how you film it.

GoPro Tips

1) Pack juice for the ride

It’s a fact of life that sooner or later camera batteries will run out just when you need them most. The GoPro’s own battery doesn’t have the stamina for a full day of gnarly antics or holiday sightseeing, so make sure you pack and charge a spare.

For a bit more time, get a spare 1160mAh capacity GoPro battery (RM40), for a lot more there’s GoPro’s Battery BacPac (RM270) or for marathon sessions there’s the Brunton All Day 2.0 5000mAh battery pack (RM325), which attaches in place of the housing door and is waterproof down to 40m just like your GoPro. In a pinch it will even charge other USB gadgets too.

2) Angle for maximum interest

If you’ve ever sat through someone else’s freshly-downloaded footage of their best run on their bike or surfboard you’ll know that, for all the action, it can quickly get dull. The best videos tell a story.

If you’ve got a friend with a GoPro, attach it somewhere else to get a second angle or following shot. Otherwise, just make sure you capture a selection of short clips to give a flavour of the day – whether that’s talking to someone you’re there with, showing the sights and sounds of the place, or getting some closeup shots. If possible, try to count to five at the beginning and end of your shots – it makes editing a lot easier later.

3) Head for the steady thrills

Want to take out the shake? Mounting your GoPro to your head or your body rather than your bike or board is like using yourself as stabilisation.

If you're planning to take a handheld panning shot or a short walking shot, hold your camera against your face (like you’re kissing the back of it). This adds a second contact point to steady the camera and also takes advantage of nature’s gimbal – your neck. You may feel a bit stupid but you’ll get a much steadier shot without having to buy or pack an expensive gimbal.

4) Play the ace of pace

A bit of scenery can really add to the atmosphere of a video, but can slow the pace too much. Get to know your GoPro’s time lapse mode and you’ll be able to inject some action into static shots.

You need at least some movement to make it work though – whether that’s clouds on a windy day, waves on a beach, cars, boats or people walking past. The video time lapse mode is great for doing this quickly and easily in camera.

Once you’ve got the hang of it, the photo time lapse mode offers more versatility, allowing you to shoot better night skies and even crop in a bit thanks to its higher resolution. They have to be turned into video in GoPro Studio or other editing software, but the results are worth it.

5) Add a stringy insurance policy

Finding new and inventive places to stick your GoPro to get a different perspective is all part of the fun, but the most challenging angles tend to be the ones most likely to cost you your action cam.

If you’re mounting on the outside of a car or on something high up or fast moving and your GoPro comes unstuck, there’s a good chance you’ll lose it (and your precious footage) forever. Add a safety leash – whether that’s just tying it to your wing mirror with a shoelace, using GoPro’s own sticky mount camera tethers (RM65) or getting a wrist strap to use while out in the water at the beach, it’ll keep your investment safe and let you concentrate on getting the shot.

6) Aim high, shoot low

With its wide-angle lens, the GoPro is great for getting everything in but can lead to some awkwardly-framed shots. If you’re filming yourself at arm’s length or with a selfie stick, aim the lens at your chest, not your face. This will help you avoid getting a shot full of sky with your head near the bottom.

The same goes when filming other people if you don’t have the LCD on to check your shot. If you tend to use the same mounts regularly – for example on a helmet – it’s also worth marking the best angle on the mount with a white marker or notch to save on setup faff next time.

GoPro accessories

1) GoPro 3-Way (RM340)

The most versatile of GoPro’s homegrown mounts, the 3-Way works as a handle, pole and tripod helping you to catch the action from all angles. Whether you extend its full 50cm length to poke it in the air above a crowd, pull the neatly-stowed tripod legs out of the grip to get a steady base for a timelapse, or just use the handle on its own, you’ll find it more useful than a magic wand.

Buy the GoPro 3-Way here

Birdie GoPro Flight System (RM190)

Eschewing the expense and faff of finding a drone to mount your GoPro beneath, the Birdie provides a simple way to fulfil your aerial ambitions. Mount your GoPro into its jumbo shuttlecock-esque frame and sling it high in the air. Its orange fabric tail slows its descent and keeps the lens pointing earthward. Perfect for the beach, it floats too, and when you’re done you can dismantle it and put it in a neat little bag.

Buy the Birdie GoPro Flight System here