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How to Shoot Half Underwater GoPro Photos (Gear + 6 Tips)

Accessories, GoPro Tutorials

In this post, you'll learn how to shoot half underwater photos with your GoPro. You'll learn about 3 challenges when shooting underwater – and how a dome port overcomes them.

GoPro half underwater photos

How to Shoot Half Underwater GoPro Photos

Want to get half underwater GoPro photos? Trying to do that with just the GoPro is pretty tough, right?

That's because there are many things working against you, including the water line, field of view, and underwater magnification.

In this post, I'll talk about why a dome port makes getting half underwater GoPro photos easier. You'll also see a review video for the Knekt dome.

Half underwater GoPro photos

Summary of GoPro Dome Ports

To even things out, you'll need a dome port. Here are a couple of solid options:

  1. Telesin 6″ Dome Port This is an acrylic dome with waterproof hardening material. Comes with the waterproof shell and floating handle. Dive to a depth of about 65 feet.
  2. Yoemely 6″ Dome Port: This is the professional version and comes very well reviewed. It also used an acrylic dome and comes with a pistol trigger (one hand operation), float grip, and protective bag. Dive to a depth of around 98 feet.

Learn how to eliminate GoPro lens fog

GoPro photo of half underwater shot

3 Problems When Shooting Underwater GoPro Photos

1. Field of View

To get a good half underwater photo (also called split-level, half and half, over under, and 50/50) you'll want to push the water away from the lens. When the water level is close to the lens, the field of view is reduced.

With one eye closed, try holding a pen horizontally (like it's the water level) in front of your open eye. You can't see much above or below the pen because it's so close.

Now hold it a little farther away. With the pen a few inches away, your field of view is increased. This is similar to what happens when you use your GoPro with a dome port.

Half underwater GoPro photo

The dome port pushes the water line farther away from your lens giving you a larger field of view, above and below the water line.

2. Water Magnification Problems

You'll also notice that when you try to get half underwater shots without a dome port, the water magnifies things. This distorts the look of photos, making the above water objects look normal while the underwater objects look larger.

This can be a cool effect, but not when you want things looking even and balanced.

over under 50 50 split level dome port

The dome port normalizes the field of view. This means that things will match up above and below the water line.

Read more about how to use GoPro underwater.

3. Unlevel Water Line

A dome port will also make taking photos easier because you'll be working with a larger lens area.

Trying to get half underwater GoPro photos without a dome port is tricky because the lens area is small.

You've got to lean over the camera to make sure where the water is. With the dome port, it's much easier. The Telesin and Knekt models have a water line guide on the back.

Half underwater photo GoPro

Ready for more? Here are 6 tips for shooting half underwater photos with a dome port. (I also include some of my favorite half underwater photos – I think you'll love it.)

Half underwater photos shot with GoPro

All the photos in this collection were shot with a dome port.

What does a dome port do? A dome port makes capturing half underwater photos easier because it pushes the water line farther away from the lens of your GoPro. It also puts more distance between the lens and underwater dirt particles.

These half underwater photos are also referred to as split shots, over-unders, split levels or  half and halfs. However you refer to them one thing is for sure, they are stunning.

half-underwater-gopro-photo-collection

Read more about half underwater GoPro photography.


6 GoPro Dome Port Tips

1. Set up a great story

As you can see from the above photo collection, the closer your subject is to the dome port the better.

Landscapes make gorgeous half underwater photos. But to tell a better story, why not try to include something in the foreground.

The following example is a nice photo. I like the colors, the clouds and how the light is reflecting on the sand. But something in the foreground would make it better.

half-underwater-gopro-dome-port-photo-collection

The next photo causes the eye to bounce around. It's more fun visually.

Having something in the foreground makes the composition more interesting. Even some plant life will do.

gopro-half-underwater-photos

Some of the best half underwater photos include a subject close to the camera and action above and below the water. If you can include those elements, you'll have a fun and captivating photo.

half-underwater-gopro-photo half-underwater-photography-tips

Take a closer look at each photo in the collection. Which ones do you like the best? Take note of which elements stand out to you and use them as a guide when you set up your half underwater shots.

2. Check for water drops

Anyone who has a GoPro knows that water drops on the lens will ruin footage.

Read more about how to get water drops off your GoPro lens.

Well, there is a lot more surface on your dome port than your GoPro lens. And it's harder to get the drops off.

You'll want to carry a small super absorbent cloth to wipe off those water drops. Trust me blowing or licking them off doesn't work the same with a dome port as it does with your GoPro waterproof housing lens. And you can't use Rain-X or something like that because the dome port is not made of glass.

half-underwater-photos-6-tips

You could try dunking your dome port and getting your shot directly after bringing it back up to level. That way you'll get your shot before the water has a chance to separate and form drops.

But this is not a dependable option and often leaves the edges of your shot looking wonky. The absorbent cloth works much better.

Cut a large super-absorbent shammy down to size and keep it in the pocket of your swim shorts or wet suit. A chamois works best damp, so you'll just need to wring it out and then wipe off the drops.

3. Use anti-fog inserts 

You'll want to make sure you put anti-fog inserts in the dome port where your GoPro is housed. Without them, your footage could be ruined because temperature changes cause condensation which creates fog and leads to blurry photos.

Read more about how to eliminate GoPro lens fog.

4. Hold the dome port level

Try to make sure your water line is level, like the horizon line. This will make for a less distracting photo.

half-underwater-gopro-dome-port-photography

With that in mind, sometimes a tipped water line can add interest.

5. Hold the dome port half underwater

This sounds obvious, but it's not such an easy thing to do when you're bobbing around in the water. Being mindful of keeping your dome port half underwater will give you better results than if it's significantly above or below half.

In the next shot, I was trying to photograph a boat but my waterline was too high, you can't even see the boat.

dome-port-half-underwater-tips

Here I did a better job of getting the waterline halfway.

gopro-half-underwater-photography-tips

Our Telesin dome port comes with a line on the back marking where the water should be. When I'm floating and focused on the action, that line makes things much easier.

6. Use the dome port for underwater shots and video

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, a dome port pushes underwater dirt particles away from your lens. This makes for better underwater footage.

So remember a dome port is not only for half underwater photos. It's for underwater photography and video creation as well.

Read more about how to use a GoPro underwater.


Stunning Half Underwater GoPro Photos

In celebration of half underwater photos, I've put together a collection of my favorite shots (I think you're going to love them). At the end of the post, I share 6 tips for shooting your own half-underwater GoPro photos.  

Half underwater photo GoPro

GoPro photo of half underwater shot Half underwater GoPro photo

Learn more about your cameras capability in our GoPro Waterproof Guide for all models.

Are you inspired? I sure am. I love looking at those half underwater photos. They make me want to go out and start creating.

A dome port is an excellent addition to your set of GoPro mounts.

Now let's look at 6 tips that will help you get some great half underwater photos with your GoPro and dome port.


Will You Get A Dome Port?

The more of a story your photo tells, the more captivating it is.

Half underwater photos tell both sides of the story. That's something we don't usually see. Normally we can only see above or below the water, not both at the same time.

Has this post inspired you to get a dome port for your GoPro? If you've tried to get half underwater photos without one, you know that it's not so easy. A dome port makes it much easier. I love ours.

Do you have any tips to share? Please do so by commenting on this post. And let us know what kind of dome port you use.

Split level dome port photo

Learn more about your cameras capability in our GoPro Waterproof Guide for all models.

Your Turn

Have you tried getting half underwater shots with a dome port? Please let us know about your experience by commenting on this post.

You might also enjoy:

Hi, I'm the Author!

Dena Haines is co-editor of ClickLikeThis: GoPro tutorial blog. She is a travel blogger and content marketer. She is also co-founder of GringosAbroad (Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with ClickLikeThis.

9 comments… add one
  • Bin doing this Jun 20, 2016, 4:02 pm

    Sick tutorial on this! Perfectly done ?
    Proud to be Canadian ??????

  • Tim Oct 24, 2016, 2:30 am

    Hi thanks for this…I have some good dome shots from a recent trip to hawaii. My one big question is how can I apply a filter to the underwater section of the photo to get that nice blue water but not over expose the above water portion? Is there free Windows software that could help.

    • Bryan Haines Oct 24, 2016, 5:16 pm

      Great question. I’m a long-time photoshop user but there are some great free options. One popular option is GIMP – it’s free, open source and well rated.

  • ZALA ČUDEN Mar 11, 2017, 10:48 am

    You have also Split Dome Port. I bought it and it’s great!

  • Pratham Mar 28, 2017, 12:38 pm

    Hey,
    Goods tips !!
    Helpful.
    What else is the dome used for as in other than half above and half below pics??

  • Huan Nguyen Mar 27, 2019, 8:51 am

    Interesting experiment. But I can’t be diving because of my heart (^_^)

  • TOM Com Jul 1, 2019, 9:01 am

    quite helpful sharing. thanks for this informative post. keep it up.

  • Ellian Nov 30, 2019, 1:56 pm

    it’s really great information that I checked here details, thanks

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