Words and photos by Dave Williams
This post is perhaps a tad controversial for the Platypod blog, but I’m running with it anyway. I’m going to tell you how good a Platypod is for shooting behind-the-scenes images of yourself with your tripod. I warned you it’s controversial!
Platypod isn’t, nor has it ever been, in the market of eliminating tripods. Tripods have their use, and Platypod has its own use. Where the tripod can’t reach, fit, squeeze, descend, or otherwise go, is where Platypod steps up. It’s found its place in macro photography, but it’s important to remember that it’s one of the most useful additions to many gear bags in other photographic fields too. As a travel photographer, I can assure you that I don’t leave home without my Platypod Ultra. It’s tiny, and it serves so many uses, but on a recent trip to Norway, it proved its worth when I was solo and wanted to capture some behind-the-scenes shots...of myself!
I explored Senja and Kvaløya in the Troms area and made it my mission to summit a mountain on each of the two islands. On Senja I had my sights firmly set on Segla and Hesten, two peaks side-by-side, which I’d previously failed because of the early snow hampering my efforts and reaching thigh-high as I tramped up the gentle hillside just a short way before giving up. With that experience behind me, now was the time to conquer Hesten for the view back to Segla. Setting up for a BTS after catching my breath, I proudly posed for a selfie beside this jagged behemoth.
The point I want to make is far more evident in the next photo, however. Two days later on Kvaløya (Norwegian for Whale Island, if you were wondering), I summited Brosmetinden. The slope is relatively gentle and reaches 1,722 feet above sea level, and the sea is straight down below the final stage of the hike, which follows the cliff line. The view from the top is fantastic and overlooks the neighboring islands before the seemingly endless expanse of the Norwegian Sea in front of it meets the Arctic Ocean beyond the horizon. When hiking, it’s always good to carry as little as necessary, prioritizing the important things like water, food and clothing. With this in mind, my gear always comes second place and has to fit in around everything else. A tripod can strap to the outside of any of my bags, so when it comes to three legs, the consideration is generally that of weight rather than space, but my Platypod always fits in, no matter what. When I can, I carry a small second camera to shoot behind-the-scenes images.
Here’s the entire rig:
Sharing breathtaking views is a necessary part of the job for me. Still, taking it a step farther than that, I need to capture images of myself "on the job" wherever possible because of all the instructional writing I do, and because behind-the-scenes images are a crucial part of marketing ourselves as photographers. With that in mind, shooting myself in action at the top of Brosmetinden was something I just had to do. The rugged, bare geology and expansive seascape are something not everyone sees in their lifetime, and they’re the epitome of adventure and alpine activity.
Being able to shoot these quickly with a small camera on a Platypod Ultra saved me from having to carry an additional tripod when traveling solo, and it meant I could take behind the scenes images of myself with my tripod in the shot. There’s the controversial part, but also it’s the part where the Platypod once again stepped up and filled a gap. I was able to control the smaller camera using an app on my phone and get the shots I wanted and needed efficiently and effectively.