I’m a hiker, a photographer, a teacher, and a gadget guy on a limited budget. One of the problems with being the hiking group photographer is that often, you are never in any of the pics – other than that group shot you took at the start of the hike, which required you to set up a tripod, or balance your camera precariously on a wall, tree limb (tied on with shoelaces!) or car hood. I’ve tried all those and others, a helpful friend, monopod, using the Velcro strap on a UltraPod to attach my camera to my trekking pole. They all work, but for one reason or another, not particularly well. What’s a photographer/hiker to do?
I discovered a new widget, called a StickPic, which you can find, of course, at www.StickPic.com. This item requires that you own a trekking pole, one or a pair of those collapsible sticks used by hikers to provide themselves with more stability when backpacking on the trail. At the end of the day, trekking poles also take something like 10% – 13% of your total weight off your feet. Great stuff, I’ve owned a set of Leki poles for years.
On their website, it is easy to look up the brand and model of trekking pole you own, and order the appropriate sized StickPic.
It arrives at your mailbox in an innocuous self-sealing manila envelope. My spouse didn’t even question it. She’s learned what a B&H carton looks like – this package she just dropped in my lap.
The StickPic is small enough to fit into a small pocket, like a zipper change pocket. I suppose you could leave it attached to your point and shoot camera, but I don’t think that leaving it in place on your pole is a good option – unless you bought several spares at the same time!
Although I watched the website video for instructions and ideas, I tossed the printed directions aside as soon as I got the package open. That way I got to learn by trial and error, rather than rely upon someone else’s experience! I’ve made some of my best mistakes that way.
I quickly found that the best way to work is to:
1. Attach the StickPic to your camera. It fits in the ¼-20 threaded hole on the bottom of your camera that you normally attach to a tripod. Screw it most of the way on, but don’t tighten up the black handscrew just yet.
2. Attach your camera lanyard to the bottom of your trekking pole, above the plastic “basket” using a larks head. It turns out that this is important, unless you like dropping cameras!
3. Push the StickPic and camera onto the spike at the base of your pole. Get it nice and snug. The StickPic logo faces toward the handle of the pole.
4. Orient the camera so it points toward your pole handle, and snug up the black handscrew. It should end up looking like this:
That’s the install. Now you can take that all important selfie, prove you peaked out, shoot a movie as you negotiate the Narrows, or show your talent for making friends with a marmot. It does not serve as a tripod, it’s meant to enable you to include youself and your surroundings in the photo or movie.
The angle of the StickPic mounting pretty much keeps the pole out of the picture. I walked around the house with it over my shoulder, which was a poor choice (we have low ceilings!). Took it along for my morning walk, although it did get some odd looks, (OK, I got the odd looks) it worked just as advertised, for both stills and movies. To get still images, I use the camera’s built in self-timer.
I use this when taking on a new trail, when I choose not to carry my DSLR and all the gear and weight that go with it. I can pop my small camera in a side pocket, toss in the the StickPic too, which weighs less than a spare battery and takes up less space. It does take a moment to set-up, but it’s a cool way to share the experience later, without carrying yet another pole in your backpack, or having to direct that lovely German couple you met on the trail on how to shoot with your camera.
Stephen is an active photographer living in Arizona. He normally shoots with Canon gear, loves combining his love of the outdoors with just about any genre of photography. He’s a little bit crazy with it comes to gadgets, loves to find ways to do the same thing for less. He lives with his spouse of 30+ years.