The Art of a Non Selfie Selfie

People clearly enjoy sharing images of their daily activities and that seems to be especially true when racing or training. But with no races to do right now because of COVID-19 and the option of a personal photographer following during training activities being slim, usually a selfie is the only option. But is it?

Sometimes we have friends along who can assist us along those lines, but the quality is rarely good and usually still has the selfie feel. I too have had that dilemma and my wife has actually made fun of me and told me that all my pics on Strava are pretty much the same selfie over and over. But that is no longer true.

A few weeks back I decided I wanted to do something else, and I experimented with my GoPro Hero 7 Black to see what could be done. The Hero 7 has long been replaced by the Hero 8 but I have seen no reason for me to upgrade. I bought that specific camera a while back because of the Hyper Smooth Image Stabilization and it is actually a great little camera. I use it for my family pics and videos, and also have taken it to races to grab pics and videos where a big camera is maybe too much. But mostly I take it with me when I run, swim or ride outside and I want to capture some of the beauty of that location, but also images of myself in action there. I also considered using my iPhone for such adventures but did not want to risk it in certain situations plus it is much bulkier and not fully waterproof without a case. But either way, the type of image I ended up with usually ended up being a selfie. When I asked strangers or friends to grab a pic it rarely was done the way I expected, but that is maybe a personal issue.

As I started to get away from the photos taken at arm’s length, I first experimented with the GoPro Photo Timer. That photo setting gives you up to 10 seconds to get yourself positioned before the camera snaps the picture. That works in certain situations but is not so great when you are moving, and even when you are just posing for a portrait type image it is hard to get the photo just right. Maybe your head is not in the right position or your eyes are closed, or someone else walks into the frame.

I also experimented with the GoPro Voice Control setting but felt weird yelling in a public place at my camera a few feet away, plus often it seemed that it either could not hear me or maybe simply could not understand my German English.

Eventually and sort of by accident I discovered that it is possible to select any frame from a GoPro video in the GoPro app and then download it directly to your photos. And that has worked very well, plus you also have now video if you want to mix it up in your social media channels. That being said, you still have to be able to discern if the lighting is right and that the image is framed properly, but if you are capable of doing that then you are ready for some good and unique action images of yourself, your family and your friends.

The GoPro Hero 7 Black connects directly to the GoPro app on the phone via an internal WiFi network, so even if you are in the middle of nowhere the camera usually can transfer the videos and photos to the phone. But once all the images are downloaded to the app you have to manipulate the videos before you dump them to your images.

When you select the video from the media gallery in the app you need to select the Grab Photo icon below the playback bar in the video. And the screen shot here is actually from a different video, as I have already deleted the original one of the image you see next.

You can then go through the video frame by frame with the forward or backward buttons just below the image, or do it a bit faster when moving the film strip bar at the bottom with your finger. Once you selected the right image you can save that frame with that blue button on the top right. It then gives you the option to save it back to the app or your phone photo gallery.

Once you figured out how it works it is pretty simple to create a variety of image. Folks now often ask me how I get these images, and well, now you know it.

Usually during a 2 hour run or bike ride I spend about 5 minutes stopped somewhere to get this done and a bit more time if there are several cool locations.

It really works really well everywhere but good lighting is the key, and really nothing beats a great race photographer. But these photographers cost a lot of money and really can't always be around you, and that is true for professional athletes too - unless your name is Lionel Sanders or Lucy Charles Barkley.

So maybe next time you are out running, cycling or swimming instead of a selfie you can grab a frame from a video instead. And for social media, Strava and similar it surely is all you need.

All images © Herbert Krabel