"GoPro Crazy"    [ 07 ]   
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May 2016
GoPro 'Hero 4' (Silver)
 GoPro 'Hero 4' (Silver)

We have owned a few digital cameras over the years, starting out with some 80's-style-cellphone-sized brick that shot extremely limited photos. Next up, I bought an old digital camera from my parents. That one got washed over by an unexpected wave in Hawaii, fitzed a little, retracted its aperture, and would function no more. Then one of my sons-in-law got Seriously Into Photography and spent gobs of money on a hefty digital camera with a lens you can manipulate and hide behind all intense-like and act as if you're shooting for National Geographic magazine. He gave us his old digital camera as if shaving off a wart. The power switch requires pressing a knife or something into it, wiggling a bit to get the idea across that you might want the thing to, you know, turn on or off. It also does not enjoy functioning in dim light no matter what 'optimum settings' I choose, creating curious artistic smear-photos with discernible passive-aggressive vengeance. It is nowhere near waterproof, and I will need something waterproof for my next foray to the islands where I will be hiking through rainforests and snorkeling in the company of alarmed fish and indifferent turtles.

So! Online I went searching for the perfect solution. Minutes of intense research led to the purchase of a GoPro 'Hero4' (Silver) mainly because it has a screen on the back that lets you actually SEE what you are shooting, as opposed to the 4K-video magical GoPro BLACK, which has no viewscreen whatsoever. You just have to be That Cool to operate one of those. (Or the kind to strap it on and leap off a cliff anyway — whether it captures your Epic Base Jump or not doesn't really matter, since you will do it again in a heartbeat and maybe you'll get a smokin' video that time) But see, I don't live a daredevil's life that begs for video records — Hey! Watch me drive the kids to school! Or click over here and see how cray-cray we wash our dishes or clean the cat litter before bedtime, all in full 360° 4K clarity! — Nope. But since most dig.cameras these days shoot video, I figured this might be a good place to start.

But look at how RIDICULOUSLY TINY this thing is!  ►

Walking around filming with this little unit makes me look like I'm massaging a postage stamp at chest-level. And as ubiquitous as GoPro's are anymore —( seriously, just type "gopro" into YouTube and brace for impact under the cascading results )— I am surprised at how often people stop us to comment on our miniscule camera, trying to be sly by asking something like, "Hey, is that a camera?" ~ No, I just think pinching a little itty-bitty silvery toy box between my pecs is an optimum way navigate through any large, public, overcrowded space.. thanks for asking. Maybe I will just pick up a head-mount or a chest-strap or an armband-mount or a spleen-mount or the top-left-runner-guide-on-your-shoe mount before venturing out again to 'capture the moment'. Seriously, there are about 9 million accessories to go along with your new GoPro camera, every kind of configuration to allow strapping this thing to a helmet, a handlebar, a dashboard, a surfboard, a jet-pack, a lunar landing strut — all available for purchase. I ordered (rather blindly) a kit bag full of such improvements, but have no idea what half of them are supposed to do. They look like plasticized bits of industrial mid-60's Russian technology to me, all bent at weird angles and obviously intended for some functional purpose, but it's anybody's guess what that might be.

Another fun feature of GoPro's is that they burn through batteries like M&M's at a blockbuster movie. If you ever break down and pick one up to chronicle your own cliff-diving escapades, you had better order a stack of rechargeable batteries along with it. And a charger, of course — preferably a multi-battery charger. This I have done and, having charged them all, can safely approach our cats at close proximity with its auto-fisheye 180° view to take staggeringly lifelike orb-like images:

     "Whisper"
 'Whisper'
 
  Just to test how obtuse this is, I took a couple shots
from behind the keyboard where I play at church,
with its nice rectangular structure and horizontal lines:
 
'Medium' view versus 'Wide' view — [ ROLLOVER ]
 GoPro keys

Not so much ~ still all bendy-like... Honestly, I appreciate how this kind of view provides for some heart-stopping action like this 4-minute run of terror —( here's another one that starts off bouncing down the steps inside a building, and another leaping over ravines and such )— but my planned exploits do not include such shenanigans. So I don't know if the default fisheye view really lends itself to my prospective ventures and stillshots. There is a setting in GoPro Studio (their free video-editing software) that removes the fisheye effect with one click, but so far my computer crashes every time I attempt to work in that app. [PERFECT] Trying to correct for fiSHEye in Photoshop either turns the image into a funhouse of rubbery props, or elongates elements to conspicuous extremes. Check out that last high 'C' piano key in the second photo (below, right). And for some reason that likely has to do with byzantine filtering algorithms, Photoshop ascribes a circular serrated edge all around your image as a spiffy bonus . . .

 GoPro 'fix'
 GoPro 'fix'

I really don't know how much in the way of video I will ever post online, as my adventuring options are generally limited to the grazing patterns of a suburban single-parent. In hindsight, maybe I should have bought a new/improved digital camera rather than this Video Action Camera. Didn't think the images would prove so difficult to manipulate. Anyway, I need to learn GoPro Studio now to figure out the real benefits and constraints of our latest tax return acquisition . . .

 GoPro Studio
 
GoPro waterproof casing
 GoPro case
Working underwater (I hope)
 GoPro case
07
(2016)  08