Best GoPro Tips and Tricks for Awesome Travel Photos

Best GoPro Tips and Tricks for Awesome Travel Photos

As much as I love my DSLR, I’ve been finding myself using my GoPro Hero 4 Black more and more frequently for my travel photos. I find that for spontaneous travel photography, particularly when you are solo or when you don’t want to hold up the group, the GoPro has several advantages:

 It’s teeny and light

It’s quick and easy to use and can be mounted to just about anything

It’s waterproof and can withstand any type of conditions, allowing you to get shots that wouldn’t be possible otherwise

It’s super easy to take pictures of yourself or your entire group

 The quality from the GoPro Hero 4 is really impressive and the wide-angle allows you to capture the whole scene

Go Pro Tips & Tricks: I took this photo holding the GoPro in my hand in timelapse mode.

That said, it took some practice and a bit of research to figure out the best GoPro tips and tricks for getting the most out of this powerful little camera. In this post, I break it down and tell you exactly what you need to do to improve your GoPro travel photography so you can get some awesome shots to document your adventures.

— Bring the right GoPro Mounts —

There’s so many different accessories to choose from, it’s hard to know which ones you are going to need. What it all comes down to is the type of activities you plan on doing.

 My go-to accessory when I am the subject in the photo is the 3-way pole which serves as a grip, an extended selfie-stick, and a GoPro tripod. I like that it’s 3-in-1, and when it’s not being used, it folds down quite small so it doesn’t take up too much room in your bag.

 If you don’t need the tripod, then there are a ton of brands like Xshot and GoPole that make great, lightweight extender poles (selfie sticks).

 For activities when you need both of your hands – such as climbing or rafting – the 3-way pole isn’t going to work. That’s where the body mounts come in.

My GoPro was mounted on a head strap in timelapse mode for this shot above Milford Sound in New Zealand. // Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

My GoPro was mounted on a head strap for this shot above Milford Sound in New Zealand.

 The Strap, which attaches to your wrist, arms, or legs, is one of my favorites. It allows you to position the camera at any angle or direction for unique POV footage, and it’s also super small, making it really easy to travel with.

 The Head Strap and the Chesty Harness are also great. If I’m going to bring one of these on a trip, it’s usually one or the other, and I’m slightly preferential to the Chesty Harness for a couple of reasons. First, the Chesty Harness is lower profile and less obvious when I’m wearing it. Second, I prefer the lower angle, which allows you to capture more of your body in the shot. My video footage also tends to come out more stable when using the Chesty Harness vs the HeadStrap. That said, the Chesty Harness is bulkier and takes up more space…so this doesn’t come everywhere with me.

The Jaws Flex Clamp is a very handy accessory. It allows you to clamp the GoPro to any object that is between 0.25” to 2” in diameter (like a kayak oar, small branches, etc) allowing you to capture some pretty creative angles.

Finally, the sticky adhesive mounts allow you to secure your GoPro to things like a surf board, a kayak, or the hood of your car.

There are tons of other accessories out there, but these do the trick for 95% of my travels. It’s also important to pick and chose based on your activities, so you don’t end up with a suitcase full of mounts that you don’t end up using.

Snowmobiling in Wyoming's Togwotee National Forest // Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

— Use Time-Lapse or Burst Mode —

Getting the right composition (the position of the subjects in the frame) can be challenging with a GoPro, especially when it’s on the end of a stick, and you can’t tell exactly what’s going to end up in the photo. So whether I’m taking a selfie or a landscape shot, I tend to keep my GoPro on time-lapse mode.

In timelapse mode, when you press the shutter button, it continuously takes a shot every 0.5 or 1 second (you can choose how often) until you hit the shutter again to stop it. Then as it’s taking the shots, I adjust the angle by moving the GoPro slightly, or I will change my position to get a different perspective. This way if a few of your shots aren’t composed properly, it’s likely that at least one of the shots is going to turn out awesome. You’ll end up with a ton of frames, and then you can choose the best one and delete the rest.

Timelapse is also great when asking someone else to hold the camera and take your picture. In this case, I compose the photo, ask someone to hold the camera in that exact position, and then I move to the part of the frame that I want to be in.

I used timelapse mode on my GoPro to get this shot at New Zealand's Wharariki Beach // Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

I composed this shot, handed the GoPro to a friend with timelapse on, and then walked in front of the camera.

If you are capturing high-speed action shots, you might want to use burst mode instead. With burst mode, you can take up to 30 photos in one second. This mode is good if you are doing something like bungee jumping or jumping in the air and you want to capture exactly the right moment. Keep in mind that if you are taking a selfie in burst mode, you’ll need to use a GoPro remote or the GoPro App on your phone to trigger the shutter.

I used the burst mode on my GoPro Hero 4 black to get the perfect jumping position in Abel Tasman National Park // Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography

Taken in burst mode to get the perfect jumping position in Abel Tasman National Park (Credit: Bare Kiwi)

— Don’t worry about what other people think of your Selfie Stick —

Ok, there are going to be selfie & selfie-stick naysayers anywhere. But when you are traveling alone or with a small group and you want a picture, taking a selfie is often the quickest and easiest way to get the job done. So, while you may feel a little self-conscious throwing that stick up in the air, remember that you are never going to see those strangers again and you shouldn’t worry about what they think. With a selfie stick, you don’t have to bother anyone to take your picture, and if someone in the picture isn’t ready you don’t have to say “sorry, can you take one more.”

Also on my solo road trip to New Zealand, I found that when I’d ask someone to take my picture and hand over my DSLR, the photos often didn’t turn out….like I have photos where my forehead is cut off or the big peak in the background isn’t even in the frame.  So instead I started using my GoPro, which allows me to take as many frames as I want until I get it right.

Also, when using a selfie stick, I try to angle the GoPro so that a minimal amount of the stick is showing in the photo.

I used Burst mode and a selfie stick to get this shot while swimming in Wanaka, New Zealand // Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

I used Burst mode and a selfie stick to get this shot while swimming in Wanaka, New Zealand

— Shoot with Protune ON —

Protune gives you a little more control over the photos – it’s like shooting in manual vs automatic on a DSLR but way more simple since there are only a few settings that you’ll need to mess with. The two settings that I think make a big difference are exposure compensation and sharpening.

If I’m shooting during the daytime, I tend to set the exposure compensation to -0.5. This helps prevent the sky from being overexposed (too bright) and saves details in the highlights. If I’m shooting in the shade or at night, I leave this at 0.

For sharpening, I set this to medium. On high sharpness (which is what the camera is set to in Auto mode), the photos sometimes come out a little too sharp, almost looking unrealistic. Medium gives you a little wiggle room if you want to sharpen the photos on your own in a program like Lightroom or an app on your phone.

Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

Paddle Boarding on the Causey Reservoir with a GoPro

For more information on settings and everything your camera is capable of, check out this incredibly helpful post by GoPro content creator Abe Kislevitz.

— Experiment with Perspective —

GoPro’s aren’t just for selfies. Move the camera around and get creative with perspectives. The wide-angle allows you to capture so much of the scene and a little experimentation (like making the camera vertical or getting low to the ground) may give you surprising results.

Experimenting with perspective by holding the GoPro low to the water in New Zealand's Doubtful Sound // Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

Holding the GoPro low to the water in New Zealand’s Doubtful Sound

— Prevent Fog and Water Spots from Ruining your Travel Photos —

Taking your GoPro (in its housing) it wet conditions is what this camera was made for. Take it out in the rain, take it swimming, jump in waterfalls. But one thing you have to pay attention to is whether there is fog or water droplets covering the lens, which will ruin your photos.

For water droplets, you can apply Rain-X water repellent to the housing (following Rain-X directions to a T) in advance of using it in wet conditions. Then once you are out with your camera, if you notice water drops forming on the housing, apply a little saliva with a good ol’ lick of your tongue to remove them.

How to avoid rain droplets on your GoPro // Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

A wet and rainy day in Milford Sound, New Zealand

For conditions where the camera might fog up (hot springs, underwater, a humid rainforest), make sure to carry some of the GoPro anti-fog inserts.

— Take the GoPro out of its Housing —

This was a tip I learned from my friend – the Bare Kiwi. He told me that if there’s no chance of the GoPro getting wet, take it out of its housing for a cleaner photo. You can still mount it using the GoPro Frame Mount, and protect the lens when the camera isn’t in use with protective cover that comes with the frame (taking it out of the housing also allows you to get better audio if using the GoPro in video mode).

GoPro shot from a solo hike to White Pine Lake above Salt Lake City, Utah // Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

Solo hike to White Pine Lake above Salt Lake City, Utah

— Get a GoPro LCD Screen —

The Hero4 Silver comes with a LCD screen, so if you have that version, you are good to go. However, if you want to attach a LCD screen to the GoPro Hero 4 Black (which is a slightly higher resolution camera), you have to purchase it separately. Attaching the LCD touchscreen makes the camera slightly bulkier, but I’ve found the screen saves me a ton of time, since I no longer have to turn on the wireless feature, pair it with my phone, and review the photos on the app.

The detachable LCD Screen on my GoPro allowed me to make sure my legs were centered in this photo and not distorted from the angle // Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

The LCD Screen allowed me to make sure my legs were centered in this photo and not distorted from the angle.

— Carry Extra Batteries —

Don’t let your GoPro batteries die on that epic adventure. Carry extras. Always. And just in case you are upgrading to the Hero 4, be aware that the batteries are different from older GoPro versions. GoPro and Wasabi both sell batteries and docks that can charge multiple batteries at once.

Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

— Use Editing Software or a Phone App to Spruce up your GoPro Travel Photos —

Almost all of the super cool GoPro travel shots (also true of DSLR photos) that you see on the web have been processed in some form to make the photos pop. With post-processing, you can improve color contrast, saturation, and temperature of the photo (make it cooler or warmer tones) with just a few quick adjustments.

I use Lightroom which is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud monthly plan. It might seem like an intimidating program at first, but for basic color correction, the learning curve isn’t too difficult. I had no idea how to use Lightroom two years ago (and I’m still not maximizing it’s potential…but I’ve learned enough to get the job done using the Digital Photography School’s super easy-to-follow e-book called Loving Landscapes which walks you through Lightroom, step-by-step.

Once I get the photo on my phone, I usually make some final minor adjustments using the sliders right in the Instagram app until the photo looks exactly how I want. Just be careful with those sliders and pre-made filters. Too big of an adjustment (in saturation, highlights, etc) can degrade the photo quality and make the pictures look pixelated.

The two photos below demonstrate what a difference a little editing in Lightroom can make in your final GoPro travel photos.

I took this photo in Wanaka New Zealand using my GoPro Hero 4 Black's burst mode with editing in Lightroom // Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

Before editing

I took this photo in Wanaka New Zealand using my GoPro Hero 4 Black's burst mode with editing in Lightroom // Learn my favorite GoPro tips and tricks to improve your travel photography.

After editing

If using a program like Lightroom is out of the question or you want to upload your travel photos directly from the GoPro to your phone, there are also a ton of editing apps you can use. Snapseed is my favorite. It has a bunch of different sliders, and you can actually target specific areas and colors in the photo. **If you do use an app like Snapseed, avoid the filters. The filters degrade the quality of your photo and often make them look over-processed and grainy.**

— My Recommended GoPro Gear —


Loving Landscapes Lightroom Tutorial e-book

The GoPro is an easy way to capture those fun, spontaneous moments with your friends


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Written by Kristen Bor

Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.

45 comments on “Best GoPro Tips and Tricks for Awesome Travel Photos

  1. I have had my GoPro for years and I still learn something new about using the damn thing every day. This was a really great informative post and I am really excited to test out some of your tips and tricks this weekend. Thanks for the great post and happy filming!

    Katie @ Katie Wanders

  2. Oooh nice tips! I got a GoPro for Christmas and have been trying to figure out what works for me. I totally rock the selfie stick on solo hikes, but am still trying to get past my self-consciousness with the selfie stick when I’m around other people. It’s nice to read some of your personal preferences on mounts and uses, thanks for sharing!

    1. No problem Liz. Glad you found it helpful! Can’t wait to see what you come up with and hopefully this post helps you get past the learning curve a bit more quickly. Cheers!

  3. Yes, this was definitely helpful, thanks! Particularly about the Time Lapse Mode-I’m looking forward to using your tips when I hit our local ski hill for some tubing this weekend. I hope you keep updating with more tips, maybe how to take great night time shots? Anyways, thanks again!

  4. Hey girl! What do you recommend for renting a kayak or SUP? I’d love to be hands-free, but even with sticky mounts, I’ve read that you need to let them sit for a while and removal requires heat. My first thought was to use our Chesty, but I realize that might just be a bunch of shots of me rowing… LOL. We’re headed to Lake Powell in a week or so, so I want to grab a new mount if that would be best! Thanks in advance!

    1. if you are wearing a life jacket and have a selfie stick, you can always just shove it down info the front of the lifejacket and that will accomplish the same thing as the chest mount. Sometimes kayaks and SUPs will have bungee like cords that you can put over the selfie stick and the you just adjust the angle. The suction cup mount might also work on a SUP, but I’d make sure you have the floating back door or some way to secure the camera in case it comes loose. Have fun in Lake Powell! It’s gorgeous down there.

  5. I never leave comments but this page was so well done, helpful, and even insparing with the sample photos that I had to leave one. Thank you for all of the simple but great info and tips !!

  6. Hi Kristen, that’s a very nice article 🙂

    Indeed a stick and accessories are a must to shoot good gopro videos. If you really want to shoot nice video, stabilization is going to make all the difference and make things really look pro. You can stabilize gopro videos using a software like after effects, but nothing beats a good gimbal, cost is between $80 and $400 depending on the tech

  7. Hey Kristen!

    Really enjoyed your tips in this blog! I have a Go-pro Hero 4 Silver that I have been messing with in the last month. I have always just walked around with my bulky Nikon 35 everywhere. I love the versatility that I have with the Go-pro. With the housing units, it expands the horizons. I can\’t tell you the amount of awkward photos that I have taking of my nose, legs, head and everything else…lol. I am still learning it but LOVE it! I want to know everything about it and I love creativity, so this camera allows for that (especially with the fish-eye effect)! I use Adobe Premiere and part of creativity is using photo programs. I know some people are against it, but I think that is what art is- be as creative as possible with as many platforms available to you. Thank you for sharing the great tips! I hope to get my own blog up with my own personal experiences before long!

  8. Hi Kristen, thanks so much. I was looking for helpful and practical tips for use, for first time a GoPro; we bought one this week for a trip (will be tomorrow ), and I will apply this post.

  9. Great stuff Kristen!

    I love the photos! I definitely need to learn how to edit better after seeing yours!

    I’ve just read all the GoPro tips articles I could find ( good as well => but this was by far the best!

    Keep up the good work. I’m digging your site!

  10. Hi, i just bought gopro hero 5 last week.. but i still not familiar with all this setting.. can u help me? I’m outdoor person.. and i wang to know the best setting to use when hiking and when at the beach.. i hope u can help and we can contact via email.. need your help..

  11. Hey Kristen,

    My wife and I are heading to Moab, GC, and Zion in June, what do you suggest for settings for videos? I ask because you gave such great tips for pics!
    Preferably exposure settings, protune, fps, etc.

    Night video
    Day video
    Night timelapse

    Also can you recommend a great point n’ shoot or DSLR to just get started in?

    P.S. we have been going through your entire site, we love it!

  12. Adobe now has Lightroom mobile for free so you can edit on your phone or tablet. I have used it a couple times and it has many of the features of Lightroom. Love your photos. Thanks.

  13. Oh my goodness! a tremendous article. I am continually browsing online for tips that can help me. Thank you! You are a very persuasive writer. and indeed amazing pictures! Want to buy Go Pro now 🙂

  14. Thanks so much for the awesome tips. You really get to go the some really amazing place.

    Thanks again for producing one of the coolest Photography blogs.


  15. I am really enjoying the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility issues?
    A number of my blog audience have complained
    about my website not working correctly in Explorer but
    looks great in Firefox. Do you have any tips to help fix this problem?

  16. nice write up – i have always had a gopro, but sadly never made a dedicated effort to learn how to get the most out of it (ie take pics on the go that actually look good enough to put up on social or on a website). This article has lots of helpful info – thanks!

  17. Hi Kristen,

    Loved your article. I’ve been using GoPro cameras for some time now and even I didn’t know about some of these tricks. For example, I experimented with protune for the first time yesterday since reading your article and the results were amazing. Thanks!

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