How to GoPro with Mikala Jones
Tips from the POV specialist.
Words by Will Benson
Of all the POV specialists, few create clips as atmospheric as Mikala Jones. The combination of uncrowded mysto locations, and dusky morning light can’t help but ignite your inner wanderlust. We caught up with Mikala to find out what goes into capturing the perfect GoPro moment. If you’ve ever tried to use one, chances are that your post-production largely consisted of deleting shots of you looking confusedly at the camera. It’s not quite as easy as point and shoot!
When’s your favourite time to shoot POV? Most of my clips have been sunrises. I’ve never really got a good afternoon/sunset clip.
So morning light’s the most flattering? A lot of people think it’s sunset that will best complement your shot, but I disagree, sunrise is my favourite time and it’s the best part of the day!
What’s your favourite angle? I try and get the nose of my board, the barrel, and my head in the shot. That’s the complete shot for me. With the mouth angle, you can only see the barrel, and when people hold it behind their shoulders they only get their head and shoulders. Sometimes I adjust the angle inside the barrel. But you need a good wave to get a good clip.
Do you use the mouth-mount? Yeah, you’ve got to paddle with it in your mouth and then just grab it out when you stand up.
The board mount? I’m really not fond of that angle at all – the one looking back – I’ve only ever used it a handful of times.
What do you use to edit your clips? I just use the GoPro software now, it’s so easy. If I put it on instagram, I’ll do it myself. But that last one that GoPro put out, they did the editing. But I stay in contact with them during the process and then they put it out on their channel.
Talk us through your perfect GoPro wave… I don’t shoot when there are people around. It’s normally just when it’s me and one or two friends. And if I’m working with a photographer, I wouldn’t do it because it ruins the shot. So it’s usually when I’m on a trip and no one is shooting and I find myself alone or with a friend. That’s when I capture all my best stuff. You know, photographer’s often say, “why does that guy have a GoPro in his mouth? It could’ve been a double page spread!” (laughs). I’ve been on trips when I need a GoPro clip, and even though there’s someone shooting me, the waves have been so long that when I pass the cameraman, I’ll pull out my GoPro from behind me, and shoot a thirty shot sequence.
What’s your procedure when handling the GoPro, from paddling to kicking out? So I see the wave coming and if I’m shooting a video, I hit record and put it in my mouth, then I turn around and start paddling. When I drop in, if it’s a super gnarly section and I’ve got the mouth-mount, I’ll keep it in my mouth so I’m comfortable. Then when I pull in, I’ll grab it out and have it looking out because that’s a cool angle. My little brother Keoni had a shot maybe four or five years ago, and he passed it back and forth three or four times. That’s where I got that idea. Where you’ve got it in front of you then you pass it back. I fully stole that from my little brother (laughs). Nobody else was doing it! Now it’s a new trend. I guess you’ve got to keep working on different angles.
Have you ever caught a sick wave or been super deep in the barrel and thought that you had a keeper, but then realized that you hadn’t hit record? Yeah for sure! But sometimes when you’re on a bigger wave, say like eight foot, you’re in the barrel, right in the pocket and you think it’s gonna look sick; but really, the wave needs to be throwing out five or ten feet in front of you. So often when you’re in a big barrel the GoPro doesn’t do it justice. It’s a ten footer, but it looks like a six footer! One time I had it in my mouth and I was super deep, and I looked up at the barrel and was like WOAAH, then I dropped it and lost the camera.
So you’ve donated a few to the reefs of Indo? I’ve lost quite a few. One time the floaters just kept falling off. I’d pop up and the floaters would be there but the cameras were gone. So now I tie them to me with a shoelace. A lot of the time in Indo it’s sharp reef and rock, so you want to avoid going to the beach to look for your camera.
Who do you look at for inspiration? Anthony Walsh has been doing it for ages. He’s a goofyfooter and he’s definitely shooting at different spots than I would think to. But it’s still all the same angles. He’s everywhere so he’s always getting sick waves.
What’s the biggest GoPro faux pas? I really don’t like it when people look back at the camera (laughs).
Are you adamant on trying to keep other people out of the frame, to make it look less crowded or prevent giving away a location? Yeah, well I’ve never done it out at Pipe or Backdoor or even Rocky Right. If there are 20 guys out, I just don’t feel comfortable doing it.
Any waves in your sights that you’ve never surfed, that you want to capture with a GoPro? Yeah, a long right. I wouldn’t mind shooting Kirra. Or maybe a wave like Koa Smith’s. That’s the dream – to get a 30-second barrel like Koa. Even to get a wave like that with no camera in your mouth would be incredible.
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