If you ask any experienced whitewater kayaker about the best spot to mount a GoPro, they will likely suggest attaching it to your helmet. But what if I told you there’s a better alternative? Let’s explore a different perspective and debunk the common misconception surrounding the use of chest mounts in kayaking.
A Fresh Take on Mounting Options
When it comes to filming immersive point-of-view (POV) shots, the chest mount is widely praised in activities like mountain biking. However, it has received a less favorable reputation in kayaking. So, what’s the reasoning behind this?
Helmet-mounted cameras often provide satisfactory results, but they come with a few caveats. Firstly, the height of the camera significantly impacts the perspective. Even a small movement can drastically alter the view due to the wide-angle lens utilized in action cameras. Have you ever wondered why those epic white water shots appear flattened? It’s partly because of the camera’s elevated position on your helmet. While it may not seem like much, for a wide-angle lens, the height plays a significant role.
Another disadvantage of mounting the camera on your helmet is the potential for excessive movement. This can be desirable in certain scenarios, such as capturing rescue operations, but it isn’t always ideal. Furthermore, the elevated position above your head fails to deliver the immersive experience that many kayakers seek.
But why is the chest mount so frowned upon in kayaking? The answer is simple: It’s often used incorrectly.
Unleashing the Potential of the Chest Mount
In the world of mountain biking, proper setup is crucial when using a chest mount. The camera must be mounted upside down and angled upwards to account for the natural forward lean during steep downhill descents. Failure to adjust the camera in this manner leads to subpar results.
Similarly, for kayaking, we need to modify the default chest mount position to achieve optimal footage. Remember, even a slight adjustment can significantly impact the wide-angle lens’s perspective. Most kayaking chest-cam shots turn out poorly because the camera is positioned too low, and users fail to select the correct mode.
The Key to Great Kayaking Footage
To capture breathtaking POV shots with your GoPro or any action camera, there are two alternative rules to keep in mind: use the Superview mode or opt for 4:3 mode and apply a dynamic stretch during editing. Superview delivers a 16:9 aspect ratio right out of the box, perfectly suited for your TV or monitor. If you prefer simplicity and want to avoid technical editing, stick with Superview.
With the correct mode selected, it’s time to mount the camera properly. The goal is to position the chest-mounted camera at a level close to eye height. Ideally, it should sit just below your chin, similar to the placement of a GoPro on a full-face motocross helmet. This positioning ensures that your chin won’t accidentally knock the camera as you move your head and prevents excessive movement.
To achieve this, you’ll need a suitable chest mount. I recommend the official GoPro chest mount for its low-profile design and comfort. There are two options for mounting: either position the chest mount underneath your personal flotation device (PFD) and adjust the mounting point towards your chin or place the chest mount over your PFD. Some PFDs naturally shift the mounting point towards the chin, while others leave it at a mid-chest position. If you have the latter type, a curved extension bar will be necessary to raise the camera. Opt for a curved extension bar to ensure the GoPro remains close to your chest, avoiding interference and enhancing camera protection.
Now, let’s see the results in action. Check out the example below, featuring some not-so-impressive surfing on a washed-out rapid.
The goal with GoPro footage is to create an immersive experience, not just a simple video. Mounting your camera in this manner allows you to capture waves as they appeared in the moment, showcases your surroundings, and reduces the risk of the camera getting dislodged. Additionally, it minimizes potential hazards and provides a more engaging perspective.
The video above was captured using a DJI Action 2 in 4:3 mode and then dynamically stretched using Davinci Resolve. In a future video, we will provide a step-by-step tutorial on this editing technique.
Embrace Variety for Captivating Content
While not everyone may prefer this viewpoint, introducing variety into your filming locations is crucial for creating captivating videos. Don’t limit yourself to a single mounting spot throughout your kayaking journey. Experiment with mounting options on the helmet, chest, front of the boat looking back, or even capturing moments with your friends. The more diverse your footage, the more compelling the final edit will be.
Power User Tip: For the best results, consider using the GoPro HERO9 or HERO10 with the Max Lens Mod, enabling horizon leveling in 4:3 mode, and enhancing the footage with a dynamic stretch during post-editing.
Now that you’ve discovered the untapped potential of chest mounts in kayaking, it’s time to unleash your creativity and capture remarkable moments on the water. Remember, innovation and experimentation lead to extraordinary results. So, get out there, mount your GoPro on your kayak, and create unforgettable footage that truly immerses your audience.