Split Dome Port Instructions and Tips For Over Under Photography

  1. HOW TO SET UP YOUR SPLIT DOME
  2. DEPTH RATING
  3. CLEANING
  4. STORAGE AND PROTECTION
  5. CHOOSE A SUNNY DAY
  6. AVOIDING REFLECTION: DO NOT POINT THE DOME INTO THE SUN
  7. AVOIDING THE FOG
  8. CHOOSE CLEAR WATER
  9. BEST GOPRO CAMERA MODE FOR DOME PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO
  10. HOW TO GET RID OF WATER DROPS

DOME PORT INSTRUCTIONS

 We have put together these dome port instructions to help you use your Split dome port correctly. We have also added some essential over under photography tips that you must follow if you want your half half photos to stand out. For an in depth guide on how to shoot half half photos like a pro check our Over under photography guide.

HOW TO SET UP YOUR SPLIT DOME PORT

  1. Unscrew the ON/OFF screws to lift the clamp and remove the GoPro housing from the dome.
  2. Put your GoPro camera into the housing and close it. The housing seems similar to regular GoPro housing but it is not completely the same. It is designed specially to fit into the SPLIT Dome, so your regular housing can not be used or water will get into the dome.
  3. Attach the grip to the housing so that the bolt is on the left when your camera is facing away from you. This gives you better access to camera power button.
  4. Insert the housing into the dome and make sure it sits right. Always make sure there is no dirt, sand, hair or other debris along the rubber gasket that could compromise the integrity of the waterproof dome.
  5. Close the clamp over the housing and tighten the clamping screws until there is no space left between the screws and the dome.
  6. Use the  power_button_symbol button on the dome to turn your GoPro ON/OFF or change modes.
  7. Remaining two buttons on your GoPro camera work as on your regular housing.


DEPTH RATING
SPLIT Dome is capable of withstanding depths of up to 65 feet (20 meters), but your GoPro camera is safe in its own housing that has the same depth rating as your regular housing (131 feet/40 meters).

CLEANING
Always rinse the dome with fresh water after seawater use.

If for some reason you need to clean the dome from the inside, you will need a size 8 allen key to remove all 10 screws that hold the dome in place. Make sure the SPLIT dome port is clean before removing the dome. Always use cleaning agent that does not harm acrylic materials. Once your dome is cleaned re-attach it to the backplate and make sure there is no dirt, sand, hair or other debris along the rubber gasket that could compromise the integrity of the waterproof dome. Also make sure that the gasket is in place – it should be inside the narrow recess in the backplate. Tighten the screws until you get resistance, don’t over tighten them.

STORAGE AND PROTECTION
SPLIT dome is made out of high-grade Acrylic material which is better than glass when it comes to handling scratches – water will fill the scratch and it won’t be visible on the photo. Glass on the other hand is more scratch resistant and better when it comes to water drops but scratches show in photos and are difficult to fix. In any case, we suggest you protect your dome from impact, scratches and dust. Get our SPLIT neoprene dome cover and put it on when you are not using the dome.

Do not expose you SPLIT dome to direct sunlight and heat for long periods of time.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Using the dome port together with a GoPro camera is really simple as GoPro with its wide-angle lens and almost infinite depth of field is a perfect match for the dome port. So basically using the dome is just point and shoot. But there are a few tricks and tips to make your photos better and bring out the most out of your SPLIT dome port.

CHOOSE A SUNNY DAY
If you are making half-half photos where half the photo is above and half under the water then sun and lots of light will greatly improve your shots. The underwater half of the photo will always be darker as the light is quickly lost under the water so lots of light from the sky will help you make better photos. Some pro photographers even use underwater flash to add some light to the bottom half of the photo.

AVOIDING REFLECTION: DO NOT POINT THE DOME INTO THE SUN
Sun (or any other light source) can together with the right background turn all domes into mirrors. The dome on Split dome port is designed to minimize reflection but still there are a few rules you should follow to avoid this from happening.

So what to do to avoid reflection?

The mirror effect usually happens when you are pointing the dome towards the sun, even more if the underwater part of the photo is dark. Try to keep the sun behind your back and do a few test shots to find the right angle. Keeping the sun behind you is also a general rule for good photography because it improves the colors in the photo.

Taking photos directly into the sun is possible. But you will need to play around to find the right angle. Also try to put your Split dome deeper (or higher) in the water. Play around to get the perfect shot!

AVOIDING THE FOG
Domes and regular GoPro housings can fog on the inside ruining your shots. Fogging occurs when you have moisture inside the housing and/or large differences in temperatures (warm air/cold water). If you are somewhere in the tropics or anywhere where you suspect that the fogging might occur it is best to assemble the dome somewhere dry (inside the car, in your hotel room). If there is air conditioning available turn it on as the AC takes the moisture out of the air.

But there are times and places when you can not get to a dry place. In this case you can use GoPro Anti-Fog camera lens inserts and they will suck the moisture out of the dome and the housing. To put the Anti-Fog insert into the dome you need to tape it to the backplate, you can do this without removing the dome through the hole for the GoPro housing. The insert will not be visible in the photo, if you are not using something really oversized.  There are also alternatives to these inserts – people use chamois leather pieces, silica gel bags from shoe boxes, or even tissue paper.

CHOOSE CLEAR WATER
Clear water will be lighter and you will have better, more natural colors. Mountain lakes and rivers, tropical seas, swimming pools… are usual places with really clear transparent water. Bottom also has an effect on the brightness and amount of light in the water.  Bright sand, pool tiles, pebbles are better than dark algae, mud, and volcanic rocks.

BEST GOPRO CAMERA MODE FOR DOME PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO
For quick movement, action sports like surfing… when there is only a small time difference between making a half half photo and dunking your dome completely or losing the person you are shooting out of the frame we suggest you use the burst mode. 30 photos in 3 seconds works well, if the action is really fast try 30 photos in 2 or in 1 second, but in this case it is harder to catch the right moment to press the shutter button.

For slower action, for fooling around in water, snorkeling, etc… we also like to use the timelapse mode, either one photo every 0.5 second or 1 photo every second. Timelapse mode is also cool because once you start it you don’t have to press the shutter button anymore, your hands are free so you can swim and you won’t miss anything because your camera is always shooting. But it does give you lots of photos to delete afterwards.

The resolution setting should always be max which is 12MP / Wide.

When it comes to video the rules are similar –  for high-speed activities set your camera to at least 50 FPS (frames per second), even if this reduces the available resolution. When the action is slower than you can boost the resolution and cut the frame rates. So for high-speed action choose something like 1080p/50 FPS or 1080 SuperView/50 FPS and for slower activities something like 2.7K/25FPS (off course if you need higher resolution, if you don’t you can just stick to 1080/50). If you want to make slow motion video go even higher with the frame rates (720p/120FPS).

If you are dunking the dome into the water while you are on dry land like from a pier or something similar your photos will be upside down as the grip will be pointing up. Go through your GoPro camera settings and set your camera orientation to down or even better auto – so you don’t have to worry about this.

HOW TO GET RID OF WATER DROPS
Dome is like a huge lens and the half that is not in the water can gather some water droplets that will show in the shot. Since the dome surface is large the drops cover only a small part of the photo so this problem is not as big as with the regular GoPro housing where one droplet can ruin the entire photo. But still, we prefer no drops:). There are several ways to avoid them:

First being the most obvious – if possible, keep the top half of the dome dry. This works in a pool or in fact anywhere where you have calm water and/or a dry cloth nearby. But if you are in the water yourself, like when shooting surfing, this won’t work.

If you dunk your dome completely and then take the shot right away there will be a film of water over the dome and no water drops.

There are special solutions (RainX, Aquapel…),  that make the treated surfaces hydrophobic and force water to form beads and run off. But most of them can NOT be used with acrylic domes as they can damage the plastic. So make sure you use one that is plastic friendly.

A very nature friendly and popular way to get rid of the water drops is also licking the dome. If you let the spit dry for a while (1-2 minutes) it works even better. And it really works, we have tested it.

Another homemade solution is to rub potato over the dome. The starch mixes with water and creates a sheet that prevents droplets from forming.

A longer lasting method is using a wax. There are special waxes for this or people even use car waxes.