Part II: I have my Underwater Camera, but now what?

For those of you that took the plunge and brought an underwater camera after last week’s post—awesome job! This week, I detail a step-by-step guide on how to maximize your underwater camera’s ability and get the best VIDEO possible of your swimmer’s strokes! We will be using the GoPro Hero Session as our example camera for this week’s post.

In case you missed last week’s blog post, Click Here! If not, let’s get started!

Before filming underwater, you want to make sure of a few things:

A. You have all your equipment

Including, your suction cup mount, fully charged camera, camera’s housing (if applicable), SD card, and pin/screw. Also cloth and screen cleaner is helpful, but not required.

B. Your camera settings are ready to go

You’ve set your camera to a resolution of 720 or higher. Also, the camera is set to 60fps or more. Lastly, make sure your camera is set to a medium angle view—especially for GoPro’s (avoid wide or superviews).

C. The lighting is appropriate.

When outside, you don’t ever want to shoot with your lens directly facing the sun.

When inside, makes sure the pool is well-lit and all lights in the pool area are turned on and working.

D. The water quality is clear and not cloudy.

This may be completely out of your control, but if you go into the pool to film and realize the pool is very cloudy—come back another day. It will better suit your time than to film and realize you cannot see much about your swimmer’s technique due to the cloudiness of the water.

E. You can snag the lane closest to the wall.

Try to go at a time that this lane is available. Ask a lifeguard if they know of any of their regular lap swimmer’s schedule to avoid conflict.

F. There are no lane lines blocking your camera’s view.

If there is a lane line right by the wall, ask the lifeguard if they can move that lane line for a period of time. Or set up with pool management prior to the filming day if line lane adjustments are needed.

Once you have all check marked all pre-filming factors (A-F), you are ready to shoot! Let’s dive into various camera angles…

My top 3 favorite camera angles are…

  1. Side-View, Stationary
  2. Head-On, Stationary
  3. Below, Stationary

Each angle has its’ pros and cons. For example, when you shoot a below, stationary clip–you may see a stroke or ½ a stroke depending on size of swimmer, speed, and the camera’s view settings. Although this may seem like a non-beneficial view—it is actually the only angle that allows you to see the pull pattern of both arms simultaneously in the butterfly and breaststroke strokes. So before you nix any of these camera viewpoints—hear me out!

1.) Side-View, Stationary

This is my favorite angle to film from. This angle gives you a solid few recorded strokes and details on your swimmer’s body alignment, head positioning, and kick pattern. Also, you can change the swimmer’s swimming direction (left to right or right to left) to mix up the arm that is being filmed closest to the camera’s lens.

Requirements: When you’re shooting from a side-view, stationary position–have your swimmer start at the end of the pool and swim 15 meters at a 90% effort–focusing on their technique. Be sure to suction cup the camera about 1-2m or so away from the swimmer–about ~1-1.5 feet below the surface of the water. Remind the swimmer to swim as close to the lane line as possible (away from the wall). Press record when ready.

Here’s an example of when a swimmer is swimming too close to the camera while filming a side view, stationary angle:

2.) Head-On, Stationary

This is my second favorite angle to film from. This angle is great because you can really see your swimmer’s point of entry (before the catch) and their type of pulling for each stroke. Also, if the water quality is not good that day, you will notice it significantly during head-on clips.

Requirements: When you’re shooting from a head-on, stationary position–have your swimmer start at the flags on the other side of the pool (~20m from you). Remind them to swim at a 90% effort–focusing on their technique and DIRECTLY over the black line. Be sure to suction cup the camera in the middle of the “T” at the end of the lane—about ~1.5 feet below the surface of the water. Press record when ready.

Word to the Wise: If you are recording clips and the swimmer is not in the middle of the frame (in either the side view, stationary or head on, stationary angle), change the depth of your camera. If the swimmer is too high in the recorded frame, bring the camera towards the surface and if the swimmer is too low in the recorded frame, put the camera deeper.

Be sure to take into account your pool’s gutter system when securing your camera to the wall—it may be the added depth of the gutter that’s moving the swimmer outside the middle of the frame!

3. Below, Stationary

This is my least favorite angle, but still necessary to get an overall picture of your swimmer’s stroke. As stated earlier, you don’t get multiple strokes recorded—like you do with the other two angles, BUT you can see pulling patterns. This is the main difference between below, stationary and head-on, stationary angle. In the head-on stationary angle, you can see whether a swimmer crosses over, but you can’t see their pull from start to finish (i.e. do they do an “S” pull?)–like you can with a below, stationary angle.

Requirements: When you’re shooting from a below, stationary position–have your swimmer start on the wall and place the camera about 10m away from the swimmer at bottom of the pool, in the middle of the black line. Be sure to face the lens directly up!

If you are using a GoPro Hero Session, you don’t need the suction cup for this angle—just put the camera on the bottom of the pool with the lens facing the surface when you’re ready to record. Remind your swimmer to swim at a 90% effort–focusing on their technique and DIRECTLY over the black line for 20m. Press record when ready.

If you record a swimmer’s strokes at each of these different angles—you will have a VERY good overall picture of their swimming technique. If you have videos of you or one of your own swimmer’s and would like them analyzed—I’d love to do that for you.

Until next time,

Abbie Fish

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