Behold, the Selfie Stick!
The very name conjures up the worst in narcissistic tendencies. Selfies are bad enough, but to have gear specific for the purpose is even worse. However, I’m here to defend the Selfie Stick, not as a narcissist’s assistant (I wanted to see how many S’s I could get in this sentence), but as an essential tool in my photo bag.
In essence, a Selfie Stick is just a flimsy monopod. In fact, mine has the word “monopod” stamped on it. I’ve got an excellent heavy duty monopod, but I found that with my lighter cameras (GoPro, Lumix, etc) the monopod was a bit unwieldy. I wanted something lighter.
Specifically, I was looking for something for my GoPro. GoPro makes a dedicated extension pole, but with the brand name on it they are able to charge a premium. I found what I needed on eBay. A quick search using the phrase “selfie stick” turns up lots of inexpensive options, such as the one below for only $4.44 with $2 shipping. I think that’s about what I paid for mine.
If you’re in need of immediate gratification (and what narcissist wouldn’t be?) then you can also find these things in various discount and electronics stores for just a tiny bit more.
Some of the eBay options come with clamps for smartphones, and some even have Bluetooth triggers for phones. I suggest simplicity. Mine has just a standard tripod screw mount. The head can be tilted, but that’s about it.
The one I have extends to about three feet maximum length. In addition, there is a screw mount on the bottom of the stick so that I can mount this on another tripod, thus extending its height.
The latest tripod adapter for the GoPro is perfect for the Selfie Stick. It gives me a quick release so that I can use the camera on other mounts. However, often I’ll just leave the GoPro attached to the stick for an outing.
Yes, I have used this for selfies. Most notably, I used it this weekend on top of Table Rock:
I used it in Florida with my family:
With the GoPro it’s excellent for capturing a larger group of people of which you are a part. I also used it with video to create a 360º selfie in Redwoods National Forest:
As a non-selfie device, I use the stick all the time when I need a higher perspective. Coupled with the remote GoPro app on my iPhone, I can use the app to preview and trigger the camera. Here’s an overhead perspective from Saturday’s Table Rock trip:
I’ve often used this when visiting historic churches and other buildings. I can get interior shots through high windows when the buildings are not open. This, of course, with the caveat that the technique should only be used for historic buildings, and not private residences or buildings. Here’s the interior of Swift Creek Baptist Church, followed by an interior shot of Philomath Church in Georgia:
I’ve also used this for the interior shots of old schools, such as Central School near Watkinsville, GA.
As a tripod extension it is excellent for getting higher shots. I used this technique to get a tall street perspective at the Greenville Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Here’s the setup:
The camera doesn’t show up well, so I highlighted it with a circle. Here’s a shot from that setup:
With the Gopro/iPhone setup you can almost use this rig as a high-tech periscope. This gives me an idea. We’ve had this mysterious hole in our backyard for some time. I may attach a small LED flashlight to the GoPro and lower it down to see what’s there. I tried it with my big monopod and an IR camera, but maybe with a flashlight I can see more. Who knows?
So, in conclusion, there are lots of ways to use the selfie stick rather than self portraiture. For the price you can find these things on eBay, there’s no reason not to have one.