Capturing Content While Paddleboarding
There are lots of great ways to capture your adventures. I’m here to help guide you with tips, tools and what has worked best for me with my GoPro(s) while paddleboarding.
This post is not intended to be a full lesson in photography. But you’ll find lots of information on capturing content, tips, things to think about, simple GoPro setup plus resources to help you further explore.
*There are no affiliate links. All items I have purchased or were gifts from family/friends.
Cropped shot taken vertically with Go Pro 9 w/Max Lens on pole mount.
Blog Post Legend:
- Things to Initially Consider
- Capturing Adventures
- Viewpoints & GoPro Mounts
- Video Capture Comparison
- Phone Camera
- GoPro 9 Settings
- GoPro 9 Setting Tips & Suggestions
- Downloading & Creating Content
- GoPro 9 Review
- Don’t Forget This!
- Other GoPro Resources
Cropped shot taken vertically Go Pro 9 w/Max Lens. Camera was hand held
Things to Initially Consider:
- What equipment do you already have?
- Phone or an older action camera. All my shots last summer were on my GoPro Hero 4 that I had purchased years ago for SCUBA Diving and it worked well!
- If you don’t have a waterproof phone or floating device, you’ll need to buy these items.
- Don’t have anything or want to upgrade?
- What’s your budget?
- Do your research. There are lots of cameras out there and tons of comparison videos and reviews. The blog goes more in-depth for GoPro 9.
- Where and what are you using the shots for?
Cropped shot taken vertically on Ram board mount with Go Pro 9 w/Max Lens
It’s amazing to have shots from different angles but it can be a lot of work to capture it all. Changing the camera, multiple cameras, the type of gear, knowing when and what to capture, going through the footage and putting it all together.
Think about what you want the content for and play around!
If you’re going on a breathtaking trip practice before you go to see what works best for you and what you want to capture! That way you aren’t disappointed that you didn’t get what you wanted or worse, you waste your time fussing around when you should be enjoying yourself!
It can be challenging wanting to capture it all but remember to enjoy your paddle, be present and take in the adventure for yourself!
My Main Capturing Source: GoPro 9 with Max Lens Mod. Skip ahead to see my Preferences & Presets and overall GoPro 9 review.
Maximize your subject. This is especially important for GoPros since it’s a wide lens. Even if you think the camera is close to the subject, it’s always further away than you think.
- Having someone or something close in the frame makes it more immersive and interactive for the viewer.
- A reference point also gives a sense of scale, movement and provides a contrast between the subject and the background
- Capture video vs still shots. It will give you more options later. You can pull stills from the video footage.
- Keep your clips short. It’s overwhelming to go back over a massive amount of footage.
- Don’t just leave it on because it’s easier. This will be more challenging if you mount the device on the front of your board. See below for point of view.
- GoPro is not designed to get artsy shots, it’s made for action and wide-angle capturing. Therefore a GoPro is not good for close shots or capturing wildlife from afar.
- Change up your angle & viewpoint to make it more engaging for the viewer. Check out my Instagram Reel.
- Continue to film while you test different angles out. I’ve found some of my best shots are taken when I wasn’t intending to capture.
Horizontal or Vertical:
In order to get the best shot and the most out of your device, you need to have an idea of what you want to capture but mostly what you will be using it for.
- Vertical: Instagram Story or TikTok at 1080 x 1920px
- Horizontal: YouTube or a movie to show your friends on a desktop
- Instagram Posts 1080 x 1080 which means you’ll have to crop the photo from a vertical or horizontal shot. You can post a rectangular photo 1080 x 608px on Instagram too.
- I find it better cropping horizontal footage especially if I’m posting a rectangular photo vs a square. But it really depends on where the subject is and what you are looking to post.
- If you’re posting a shot from a vertical photo you’ll need to capture the subject in the middle of the frame.
Horizontal shot was taken with GoPro Hero 4 on Pole Mount. The photo was taken as a still from the video capture.
Vertical shot was taken with GoPro 9 w/ Max Lens Mod on Pole Mount. The photo was taken as a still from the video capture.
Viewpoints & GoPro Mounts:
First Person Point of View:
- The camera is mounted to your body or held in your hands
- Great for quick immersive shots
- Perfect hands-free capturing while paddling (mounted)
- Head Mount: I’ve never used this and it’s not attractive to me since it’s bulky and I’m always wearing a New Day DIfferent Hat
- Chest Mount: I’ve only ever used this mount for sailing and would prefer to use the Paddle Mount with the Bite Mount attachment.
- Bite Mount with Floaty:
- Floaty is a must if you don’t have your GoPro on a floating hand stick
- The GoPro 9 floaty is a pain in the butt. It’s bulky which makes it difficult to mount plus it’s a hassle changing the battery as you have to take the camera fully out of the floaty case. However, you can still see the front and rear screens. The floaty for GoPro Hero 4 blocks the back door preventing the screen from being visible. It’s a hassle but better than losing the camera! Skip ahead to see a photo of both floaties.
- Bite Mount is kinda weird but works well if you don’t need to talk!
- I use this mount since it has a quick-release mount in addition to the Bite Mount. That way I can mount the GoPro to my paddle too; making it easier to switch between viewpoints.
- Floaty is a must if you don’t have your GoPro on a floating hand stick
Water Level Locked View:
- The camera is locked and secured to your paddleboard at water level looking at you or in front of you.
- You have to commit to the angle and the view it captures.
- The issue with this shot is having a lot of footage to store and go through since the camera needs to run non-stop.
- You can make yourself the subject or capture what is in front of you. It’s not the most flattering view for leisure paddling but it can create a cool shot if you’re surfing or engaging in something you see. This Instagram Reel captures my reaction to seeing a beaver where my camera is mounted on my board facing me. It also shows a Bite Mouth Mount shot along with a lot of shots with my favourite mount, Pole Mount. Skip to it here.
- Suction Cup
- I have never used this since I have a Red Paddle Co board with built-in threading for mounts. I’ve heard some people have great success while others are not fans. Make sure you have a floaty on your GoPro just in case!
- 2020 Red Paddle Co boards and newer have an M6 thread (M8 if you have an older board) on the front of the board. The following are the parts that I have for my Red board. Proper Ram or RailBlaza are hard to find in Canada. *note that this will give you locked in horizontal capture. You’ll need extra extension GoPro hardware to capture vertically.
- GoPro Clamp Mount: I have it because it came with the GoPro 9 as part of their bundle. You can use this for clipping the GoPro to you in between shots or clipping to a handle on your board. I wouldn’t recommend this as a worthwhile mount for paddleboarding but if you already have it, it can be put to use.
- The shot most people want is of themselves on their board or them with other paddlers.
- This is my number one way to shoot content and the number one question I get asked about: How do I get my shots?
- GoPro Pole Mount. This mount utilizes the paddle as a “selfie stick”. Unfortunately, unlike 360 cameras you can see the pole in the field of view for the GoPro.
- It gives you the opportunity to easily play with angles, frame and capture closer or further away and easily switch between horizontal and vertical (see below tips for Gopro 9 settings).
Tips & Things to Think About Using the Pole Mount:
- Voice command On (GoPro 9)
- Front Screen on to see what you’re capturing (GoPro 9)
- Capturing horizontally or vertically (with GoPro 9 horizontal lock you’ll need to frame first and then record. The camera will hold whatever frame you start capturing)
- Weight on the unit & your paddle comes into play
- Play around with this so understand what you are capturing and what you like best.
- Find what works best for you – mounted closer to the paddle or to the handle
- I mount my GoPro closer to my paddle vs the handle. That way it’s easier to start capture and utilize the pole as a selfie stick. I know some people who put it closer to the handle.
GoPro Paddle Boarding Mount Tips:
GoPro Hero 4 mounted on my board with Ram parts. Positioned horizontally facing towards me.
GoPro Hero 4 mounted on my board with Ram parts. Positioned vertically facing forward.
Video Capture Comparison:
Note the following when watching the 3 videos:
- GoPro 9 video quality (w/Max Lens Mod), stability and audio vs the Hero 4
- First Person point of view vs wide shot on Pole Mount
- Horizontal vs Vertical
GoPro 9 Bite Mouth Mount (Captured horizontal by default)
GoPro Hero 4 Pole Mount on my paddle. Captured horizontally.
GoPro 9 Pole Mount on my paddle. Captured vertically.
- Using your phone can be risky unless you have it attached to something (floaty or to you) and it’s waterproof.
- I’ve used my phone a few times but it’s a pain in the butt to take out of the waterproof case and you need to be super stable.
- Having one of those Pop Sockets helps you hold onto it but nothing is guaranteed.
- Get a case you can attach a string to and carabiner it to you.
- Ram also has an attachment for your phone if you want to mount it on your board.
GoPro 9 Settings:
There are loads of great resources out there for setup and settings. I won’t get into too much detail as I’m not an expert on this but will provide some resources for you!
Hero 9 Set up and Basic Setting. This guy is engaging and although the video is long you can use the chapter markers to fast track to what you need. He also provides lots of other great videos on GoPro and comparison ones too.
GoPro Setting Tips & Suggestions:
- Turn off beeps.
- Quick capture. If your GoPro is off you press the capture button and it turns on and records. Make sure you’ve set your Default Presets so the camera captures using these settings.
- Voice Command on. A little buggy but it helps when the camera is mounted is on your paddle
- Front screen on and Actual to see what you’re capturing
- Horizon lock – all – You must put the camera on the angle you want to frame and capture, then press record. Once recording it holds that viewpoint.
- LEDs on – easier to see when the camera is capturing when it’s sunny.
- Rear screen auto-off – this will help save battery if you are using it on pole mount – you won’t be needing it anyway. Front screen is where it’s at. Keep it on if you are holding the GoPro.
I haven’t played around a lot with the presets but here are some tips.
- With the Max Lens Mod, you want the Superview and you can only go to 2.7k. Most of the Max Lens Mod settings are set.
- Frame rate – higher frame rate if you’re moving super quickly for fast action. Simple things will look epic for slow motion.
- The resolution video format will depend on what you are capturing, what you’re using it for and where it’s being viewed. You don’t need anything beyond 2.7K if you’re using it for social.
- Remember the high resolution means more space on your micro sd card and your computer/phone!
- Linear high lens will help stabilize the camera acting as a gimbal
Hyper Smooth on
Bit Rate High
EV Comp – 0 – -0.5
ISO min 100
ISO max 1600
Sharpness medium to high – higher helps with details when zooming in
Super view 110 *without Max Lens Mod.
- 155 with Max Lens Mod
Video vs Photo:
Much better to capture video and grab a photo capture from the video.
Downloading & Creating Content:
GoPro Quik App:
- I use the app vs uploading it to my computer mainly because my computer is old but the app is fairly reliable and is easy to quickly capture the content I use for social.
- Create your video in the app. It’s much easier to edit than Instagram. The app also lets you upload videos from your phone camera to create video.
- You can change the view of what the video is capturing within the frame size. Very helpful for when you have a horizontal view and are putting together a vertical video.
GoPro 9 Review:
Major Pros for me:
- Voice command
- The camera is fully waterproof vs having a case so the audio is super clear.
- Ability to change the lens for Max Lens Mod (currently only available on GoPro.com. They ship outside the US but you are charged USD)
- Clarity of video is obviously much better than my Hero 4
- For the most part, I love the GoPro 9. I went with it because it’s what I know and I have all the accessories from my Hero 4
- Sometimes buggy – the only issue I’ve had with filming bugs is turning it on with voice command. Where I have issues is connecting to the app to load media but this is minimal.
- The positives outweigh the negatives. GoPro 9 is a big step up from my Hero 4!
- Get the pole mount, extra batteries & charger and Max Lens Mod.
- Big wins
- Front screen
- No waterproof case needed *unless SCUBA diving * therefore the mic pics up great audio
- stabilization with hyper smooth
When you subscribe to the blog you’ll get a downloadable PDF checklist so you never forget items.
- Extra battery
- Extra micro SD card or space on your phone
- Waterproof case
- Floating device
- Mount(s) or something to attach your divide to you or your board.
- Anti Fog strips for cameras that need a waterproof case.
- TIP – lick the camera lens to remove any water drops.
- Enjoy your paddle!
Other GoPro Resources:
- GoPro Tips for Beginners
- Tips from a Kayaker using GoPro8
- GoPro Hero 9 Settings Guide – YouTuber who does reviews and comparison videos
- MicBergsma – Another great YouTuber with lots of GoPro videos.
Hand-held cropped vertical shot on GoPro 9 w/Max Lens Mod.