The long hot days of summer are a distant memory and our attention is turning to the ski season. That means it’s time to get your GoPro ready for some winter action, making sure you have the right mounts and settings selected before you hit the slopes. To help we’ve put together our top GoPro skiing tips.
But why to do you need a few video tips? Well, if you’ve been skiing in the last couple of years you can’t have missed the numerous helmet-mounted GoPros. It seems that just about every skier has one. The thing is that while there’s a place for a helmet mount, using one for all your footage will result in dull videos that induce motion sickness in next to no time.
Skiing and snowboarding are also prime candidates for losing your GoPro. Each dive you make has the potential to knock your camera flying, so it’s a good idea to make sure that you double check all mounts and fixings prior to taking on the first black runs of the season.
As the camera is bound to take a whack or two, it’s also worth maximising the size of footage that you’re capturing and GoPro has a trick with video size that is well worth employing. We’ve got some advice about that too.
It’s also essential to get the frame rate right for any action sport if you want to capture smooth footage and motion, although be careful not to push the limits too far as the faster frame rates can also cause a loss in quality. So before you hit the slopes, take a look at some essential GoPro Skiing tips to get you started.
What GoPro for skiing?
Skiing is one of the primary subjects that GoPro has in mind for its cameras and you can use any model. The GoPro Session, GoPro Hero5 Session, GoPro Hero5 Black and GoPro Hero6 Black are waterproof so they are ideal for videoing skiing without a housing.
If you use a GoPro Hero4, or other non-waterproof model, you should use it in a waterproof case/housing to keep it safe from the snow.
What GoPro mount for skiing?
Helmet, chest, surfboard and pole mounts can all be useful for shooting skiing with a GoPro. It’s also worth taking along a 3-Way Pivot Arm (a kind of GoPro mount extension) as well as a couple of mounting buckles and a few spare mount screws.
A pivot arm is useful if you need to adjust the angle the GoPro. It’s also handy for raising the height of your GoPro, for example when using the surfboard mount on your ski.
Ideally, want to keep the GoPro as close as possible to the object it’s mounted on, but when it’s facing forward on your ski you may need to raise it up to see over the curved tip of the ski. If you shoot back towards your boot for dramatic turning shots you can seat it directly into the mount with a buckle.
Here are some of the key GoPro mounts for skiing that you will find most useful to record the footage you want:
GoPro Body mounts
Chest and wrist mounts are the safest solution when it comes to skiing. The design of both means that once attached there is little chance of them coming loose without you noticing.
After Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident back in 2013 the safety of the GoPro helmet mount for skiing has been called into question. It’s difficult to tell if the mount was to blame, but if you do decide to mount your GoPro on your skiing helmet make sure that you’re always aware that it’s there especially if skiing off-piste or through trees. Mount the camera either on top or too the side.
Some people think that helmet mounts are the best option because you capture the same footage as you see, but keep in mind that your eyes and brain combine to make a superb stabilisation system. Also, you may be surprised how often you look around, so the footage from a helmet mounted GoPro isn’t always as good as you might hope.
Mount a GoPro on your Ski’s or Snowboard
The mount that you use on a surfboard can also be stuck onto a flat section of your skis or snowboard. However, never attach the pad on the slopes or in cold conditions.
Make sure the ski or board is at room temperature, around 20ºC and that you’ve cleaned the surface so that it is free from dust and moisture.
Apply the GoPro mount and leave for a couple of hours at least as it takes some time for the glue on the base of the pad to fully adhere.
Where to mount a GoPro for skiing
The key to creating interesting skiing movies, whether you’re shooting them on a GoPro or any other action camera, is to shoot from a variety of angles.
A helmet mount can make a good starting point, but as I said earlier, your head moves a lot as you move down the piste, checking left and right and scanning the terrain. As a result you’ll end up with a lot of jerky, unstable footage.
A chest mount often makes a good alternative, as your body tends to be stiller than your head. The GoPro Chesty works well, as do some third-party alternatives. Peak Design’s Capture POV is also very good, enabling you to turn any backpack strap into a GoPro chest/shoulder mount.
A GoPro surfboard mount attached to a ski can also produce some great low-level footage. Attach it on a flat, stiff part of the ski to reduce the amount of vibration that the camera is subjected to.
A GoPro 3-Way, a selfie stick with a GoPro mount or a ski pole with a Pole Mount can produce some great results from a variety of levels and angles. A stabilising gimbal like the GoPro Karma Grip or Removu S1 can also be really useful for shooting smooth footage on the move.
How to mount a GoPro when skiing
It’s essential to minimise vibration when using your GoPro, so attach it as close to the carrier as possible and make sure any screws are good and tight. There are a few GoPro thumbscrew spanners available on the market and it’s worth slipping one on your keyring to take with you everywhere.
What GoPro accessories for skiing?
Use GoPro tethers
Although not produced by GoPro themselves, tethers are an essential fail-safe when it comes to snow sports. They act as a secondary mount so if the main mount rips off you have the GoPro tethered to the second. Tethers are often bought in packs for relatively little and they connect to the main mount or GoPro by means of a short length of cord.
Use a stabilizer
There’s an increasing number of stabilizers now available for GoPro including the Removu S1 and GoPro’s own Karma grip. If you use one of these, make sure you attach the wristband if you’re handholding or again use a secondary tether if you’re clipping to a bag.
These gimbals aren’t miracle workers, but they make a huge difference to the quality of your footage. They’re especially useful when you want to ski alongside, in front or behind someone to capture their moves.
Of course, you can also use one like a selfie stick, but try to not keep looking at the camera if you want to create a dynamic skiing video.
They’re also useful for getting low-level footage, shooting close to ski or boot level to create ‘B-roll’ video clips.
What GoPro settings for skiing?
Skiing is one of the many sports for which recent GoPros are fully prepared, so when you set the camera to auto exposure you can usually be sure that it will capture excellent quality footage – at least when the sun is shining.
In heavily overcast conditions you may find you need to increase the exposure a little. If you can, check the footage when you have a break indoors so you can be sure you’re getting things right. If necessary, tweak the exposure settings a little.
GoPro SuperView for better skiing footage
The GoPro SuperView setting enables the camera to capture footage at the full height of the sensor and then dynamically stretches the edges to fill the frame.
Why is this so different from the usual way that GoPro captures video?
GoPro has a 4:3 ratio sensor and the standard 1080p playback is 16:9 ratio, which means that the top and bottom of the footage captured is cut off.
By enabling SuperView the camera retains the footage normally lost from the top and bottom of the frame and then stretches the edges to fill the gap.
This is ideal for skiing where the GoPro can move and get knocked and means that when you come to edit your footage you have greater scope to crop the frame to capture the action.
GoPro high frame rates to capture the skiing action
The faster the frame rate, the smoother the footage that you’ll capture. When you’re skiing, the scenery will be shooting past you so you need a fast frame rate to keep up and to help avoid a jerky movie.
Setting the camera to 60fps as a base frame rate is ideal for skiing. If you want to capture a jump or turn in slow motion, boost it to 120fps.
You’ll find the quality of the video at 120fps drops slightly, but the slow-motion results are impressive.
Connect to the app
If you take it with you, make sure that your phone and GoPro are paired and ready to go. The live view feed on the app is a great way to check composition. The app’s also perfect for checking through the day’s skiing whilst enjoying the odd Glühwein or Vin Chaud.
As you’re likely to be out on the slopes all day, remember to pack an additional battery or two. There’s nothing worse than missing out on the last jump of the day because of a flat battery. Cold weather will also have an effect on the condition and charge of the battery. The colder it is, the less recording time you’ll get out of your GoPro. Keep your spare batteries in an inner pocket so they stay nice and toasty.
The GoPro Hero5s and Hero6 Black have voice activation and it can be useful on the slopes. Follow this link to see a demo of the GoPro voice activation in action.
Shoot a skiing time-lapse
GoPro Time-lapse video can be fun at any time and it works well with skiing, for example capturing a full run in double time.
At the start of a black run or mogul field set the time lapse running and make your run. Alternatively, for something a little more picturesque, why not film the sunset as you enjoy some Après-ski.
How to GoPro with a ski pole
You can use a ski pole like a selfie stick to GoPro yourself as you ski. But experiment with angles so you get several points of view. You can get particularly good results by slowing spinning the stick around your body to get a sweeping view as you ski.
A stick mounted GoPro is also a good means of videoing other skiers. It’s especially useful for going in close and videoing from in front or alongside a skier.
How to use a GoPro skiing
However you mount your GoPro, the key to getting great footage is to shoot from a variety angles.
If you have more than one GoPro you can shoot from several angles at one time. But the simple alternative is to move your camera to different positions or shift between different mounts.
Ideally, you want to shoot the same run several times or runs in similar conditions. This will give some continuity when you edit the video and cut between the various angles.
When you edit the video together, you may only want a few seconds from some angles, but it will make your footage much more interesting and dynamic.
If you’re videoing other skiers, you need to shoot from much closer than you might expect to make them appear larger in the frame.
It can be hard to keep up with a fast skier when you’re holding a camera on a pole or gimbal. So, pick a slope that’s not too challenging and explain to them that they need to keep their speed down a bit. If you can, ski in-front of them and to either side for a while to get footage from all angles.
How to GoPro Skiing: Summary
- Shoot from a variety of angles
- Shoot in similar conditions for continuity
- Choose a slope that’s not too challenging
- Use a combination of helmet, chest, surfboard and pole mounts or a gimbal.
- Avoid vibration and tighten screws with a GoPro spanner
- If your GoPro isn’t waterproof, use a waterproof housing.
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