self portrait

Selfies is now on sale in the US!

When Shooting Yourself went on sale in the UK last summer, Haje was ridiculously excited about his book devoted to self-portrait photography. Unfortunately, he was forced to put his excitement on ice for the US edition, which had a little longer to wait for its release. Thankfully, that wait is over and we can pop the champagne corks because Selfies is now on sale in the US! Photo 12-03-2014 09 54 16

Don't worry, the entire book doesn't comprise selfies of Haje. He does put in an appearance, and so do I, but there are gorgeous images from photographers Carly Wong, from Elly Lucas, and Callan Kapush, amongst many, many others. Some of them are dab hands with props, some are location shooting gurus, and a few even take off their clothes! It's full of tips and tricks, and ideas and explanations. And it's fabulous.

You want to lay your hands on a copy? Awesome! You can pick one up direct from the US publishers, HOW, from an Internet behemoth bookseller, as a swanky e-book, or from your favourite bricks-and-mortar bookshop.

Lolloping around with a Lollipod

Just before Christmas the lovely guys at Lollipod sent me an ice blue version of their lightweight, compact, multi-functional support device to test. The Lollipod can't withstand anything that weighs more than 420g, but that makes it perfect for mobile phone photography and compact cameras, and it can be used a sound boom, too. I've given it a go with my Canon S95, which attaches to the Lollipod directly, and my iPhone 4, which attaches using Lollipod's additional spring-loaded adapter. (You can use a Joby Griptight, too.) Lollipod

The good

The Lollipod really is light. I took the liberty of plonking it on the kitchen scales and it weighed in around 275g, or 9oz. So much of the appeal of smartphone or compact camera photography is that it's convenient. You don't want heaps of weighty (and expensive) kit when your camera fits in your pocket. However, there are occasions when you want to be able to steady your picture-taking device, for example when you're taking night shots, or self-portraits. Schlepping around something designed to take a dSLR might be overkill, but the Lollipod isn't.

Secure an iPhone with the Lollipod adapter

When it's fully retracted, the Lollipod isn't any more than 33cm (just over one foot) long. That's small enough to put in a daypack, a messenger bag, or even one of my larger handbags. Combined with its light weight, that makes the Lollipod supremely portable.

I was also impressed by the screw mechanism that secured your compact camera or the mobile adapter to the Lollipod. It's integrated into the Lollipod, so there's no ferreting around to find something to screw a plate into the camera or adapter, or even a plate to lose.

A built-in screw mechanism keeps things neat

Extending and retracting the Lollipod is quick and easy. There are no locking mechanisms: everything just slides in and out. Despite my initial concerns that this could result in the Lollipod retracting into itself, that never happened. After all, neither my camera or phone were that heavy and you're not meant to put anything weighing more than 420g on a Lollipod.

See? Very compact.

The not-so-good

Being so light means that the Lollipod isn't always as stable as it could be, especially when it's fully extended. Unless I set the self-timer on my compact camera it was quite difficult to capture an image without camera-shake. I had much more success with my iPhone, though. It is possible to weight down the Lollipod—you use the carrying case that comes with it, and something like a water bottle or handy rock—but I'd still be apprehensive about using it in windy weather. Without independently adjustable feet, it wouldn't be stable on uneven ground, either.

If you're accustomed to the flexibility of motion in a standard tripod head, you might feel restricted by the Lollipod's limited movement. It can only move through one axis, so you'll need to decide between setting your device so that you can switch between portrait and landscape, or so that you can tilt it. Tilting with a camera on the Lollipod wasn't a problem at all, but I didn't feel that my iPhone was sufficiently secure in its adapter for that.

In conclusion

When you're accustomed to a heavy-weight tripod with a head that moves in almost any direction imaginable, the Lollipod feels incredibly limited and restrictive. But that's comparing apples with oranges, really. The Lollipod has been designed as a lightweight, flexible support, and it fulfils that brief. If you need to stop your camera from shaking when taking photos in the dark, it'll do the job. If you want something to have a go at self-portraiture with your phone, it's great. If you need a lightweight and portable support for a small camera or smartphone, that's exactly what it is. Just don't try it out in a force nine gale.

Lollipods are available direct from Lollipod and cost £30.

Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year? Selfie

'Selfie?' I've been taking them for yeeeaaars, dahling! The word isn't exactly new, we've been using it since 2002. And the concept definitely isn't new, seeing as the first one was taken in 1839 by one Robert Cornelius. But a staggering 17,000% increase in its use over the past year has meant that 'selfie' has taken the crown as Oxford Dictionaries' 'Word of the Year' for 2013.

Could I possibly have written about selfies without including one? Well yes... but no.

It had stiff competition from the likes of 'twerk' and 'binge-watch', but fought them off with unselfconscious vigour and now joins the likes of 'credit crunch' (2008) and 'omnishambles' (2012) in the pantheon of neologisms. Its next task is to gain respectability from an entry into the Oxford English Dictionary. A place in the Oxford Dictionaries Online, awarded in August this year, isn't quite sufficient.

For some, selfie is an indictment of the self-obsessed instant-gratification generation. Those of us in the know, however, aren't at all concerned by the self-portraiture arrivistes with their smartphones and duckfaces. And you can always keep one step ahead of the game with a little help from Haje's book!

Ooh! Ilex has some copies of Haje's Shooting Yourself to give away in honour of this momentous day! All the details are here!

This self-portrait was taken by a stranger on the Internet

This (admittedly not very interesting) pic of me was taken with my Triggertrap when someone joined the Triggertrap newsletter.

Today's post is brought to you by the how-bloody-meta-is-this department...

So, I've been playing with different concepts of automating the taking of photos, by using the Triggertrap universal camera trigger I invented.

As part of the upcoming Triggertrap website (it's launching on Monday!), I was working on the updated Newsletter sign-ups, and I had an idea: Wouldn't it be cool if someone signing up for a newsletter triggered the camera?

So that's what I did - Now, whenever someone signs up for the Triggertrap newsletter, it automatically takes a photo of me, sitting at my desk, slaving away. Okay, so it isn't a very interesting photograph, but that isn't the point - it's kind of awesome that my camera is taking photos whenever someone else does something. 

If you want to find out how it's done (and if you, too, want to take a photo of me)... Sign up for the newsletter; the explanation is on the sign-up confirmation page. (Pretty sneaky, eh?)