Photos: Critters caught on a high-speed camera

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  1. Veiled chameleon

    A veiled chameleon extends its tongue to catch a cricket. Canadian wildlife photographer Scott Linstead, formerly an aerospace engineer and high school teacher, uses a device called Phototrap "to not only photograph the elusive, but also the unimaginably quick."

    Phototrap "interfaces with either your camera or your flash," he says, and it basically helps "trigger the shutter of your camera when the photographic subject passes through a defined position in space."

    In this photo, "the success of the image depends on the willingness of the captive chameleon to eat outside of its regular enclosure," he says. "The veiled chameleon is the ideal chameleon species for this project as it is often less prone to stress during handling than other chameleon species." (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Regal jumping spiderling

    If this were a Hollywood movie set, you might think the spiderling was making its way onto a gigantic faux penny.

    Not so. It's a real penny, and the details we can see in the little creature -- including its eyes and furry legs -- are amazing.

    "The tiny spiderling was fresh out of the nest, and I wanted to show scale relative to something omnipresent and recognizable," says Linstead. (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Archer fish

    In the first photo, left, a predatory archer fish displaces a cricket from its perch over the waterline by squirting a jet of water. In the photo on the right, the fish breaches to devour the cricket.

    The photographer says the breach behavior was captured purely by chance while trying to photograph the spitting behavior. "When I lowered the 'cricket perch' to the water's surface, the fish would jump out to try and grab it manually instead of the more sophisticated method that it is known for," Linstead says. (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Ladybugs

    Most of us are used to seeing photos of ladybugs, like the one on the left -- the familiar red-and-black round shell, and not much else. Linstead brings us a different dimension of the ladybug with the one on the right. While the photo looks like it was taken outdoors, he took the shot in a studio.

    The beetles are drawn to light, he says, so he used a light source on a flower, but kept the light off until he was ready to take the photograph.

    "There are situations where eye contact simply does not work to an image’s advantage," he says. "As photogenic as a ladybug can be while crawling on a leaf, in flight they appear rather awkward. The eye as well as the rest of the head is difficult to locate among the clutter of appendages. Their pleasingly symmetric shape transforms into a jagged array of wings, carapace halves, legs and the abdomen."

    (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Big brown bat

    This bat was photographed at an artificial pond in the Arizona desert. The pond is an important resource for the bats in the desert's harsh climate. (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Regal 'orange morph' jumping spider

    Talk about up close and personal: This female regal "orange morph" jumping spider jumped directly onto Linstead's camera lens.

    Floridian jumping spiders, says Linstead, "have these huge, forward-facing eyes, and although they have three more pairs of eyes that account for peripheral vision, once they detect movement, they tend to direct that largest pair at the source. This creates the impression that they are trying to engage us in eye contact."

    Florida isn't the only place to find these spiders, Linstead says, but the state's "native species are large and colorful."

    Another reason Linstead was drawn to photograph the spider is that "they can jump, and do so in the most photogenic way, trailing a safety line of web as insurance in case their leap doesn’t turn out as planned." (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Blue Jay

    Blue Jays "can easily be lured into an outdoor photo set-up by leaving their favorite snack out: peanuts," says Linstead.

    The photographer says his "purchase of a 500mm lens in 2006 quickly elevated avian photography from a serious hobby to the point of obsession." (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Green frog

    This shot of a Green frog represents one of Linstead's "earliest studio attempts with a local species."

    "The 'swamp' environment is a creation of mine involving native vegetation and a boot tray," he says. (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Great gray owl

    This beautiful owl was photographed in Ontario, Canada during a heavy snowstorm.

    "Shooting during the storm was a conscious decision to improve the value of the image through mood and atmosphere," Linstead says. "What I did not plan on was an image showcasing the owl's legs, which have become a large part of the interest and continued publication of this image." (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Brown Basilisk

    The Brown Basilisk is also referred to as the "Jesus Lizard," "Jesus Christ Lizard" or "Lagarto de Jesus Cristo" for its ability to run on the surface of water. When the lizards flee from predators, they gather sufficient momentum to run across the water for a brief distance while holding most of their body out of the water.

    This shot was taken in a rented warehouse space. It was "extremely difficult to photograph, given that they only run a couple times a day," Linstead says. (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Osprey

    "The osprey image was a personal obsession of mine," Linstead says. "I had the rare opportunity to spend four days in a tiny hide at the edge of a pond in Finland. This location near Tampere is arguably the best spot on earth to photograph this behavior."

    The chance for the image didn't happen right away. "Twelve hours per day in the blind produced this image on the second day," he says. (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Female regal jumping spider

    In a move you'd see at a Cirque du Soleil show, this female regal jumping spider moves with ease, as captured by Linstead.

    "The left-to-right jumps are considerably easier to photograph than the head-on ones," he says. "Unfortunately this perspective lacks the eye contact that gives this species its charm."

    A secondary benefit from using backlighting on the shot, he says, is that it highlights the spider's web. (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Bumblebee

    This was another studio image "birthed out of the desire to have full control over the habitat and lighting for an insect flight shot," Linstead says. "The image was produced on my kitchen table."

    A custom-made Plexiglass device "was used to guide the bee's flight path. I also oriented the set so that the flight path pointed directly at my open patio door so that the bee could fly right to freedom after tripping the camera." (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Sugar Glider

    Linstead "had a brief opportuntiy to photograph this disagreeable creature (a marsupial) in captivity after business hours at a local pet store. I chose a black background as I thought I could get away with it given the nocturnal habits of this marsupial. The 'take off' perch to the right of the image was a cat's scratching post, and the glider is en route to his cage on the bottom left." (Scott Linstead) Back to slideshow navigation
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By
msnbc.com
updated 7/22/2010 2:03:02 PM ET 2010-07-22T18:03:02

Canadian wildlife photographer Scott Linstead doesn’t just want to take pretty pictures. The former aerospace engineer and high school teacher wants photos that have “universal impact,” those with “the power to transcend demographics and generate a unanimous reaction in viewers.

“For instance, a bird photograph that is awe-inspiring not only to ornithologists but to other photographers, non-photographers, the young, the old and, in particular, any demographic that would otherwise find nothing interesting about a picture of a bird, is an image with universal impact."

The images shared here are Linstead’s work with high-speed photography, using a device known as a Phototrap, which works with either a camera or camera flash. 

“In the most basic sense, the trap is intended to trigger the shutter of your camera when the photographic subject passes through a defined position in space,” he says. “The two most obvious cases where the trap is essential is when the photographer cannot be there to trip the shutter or when the event occurs so quickly that it is beyond the practical reaction time of the photographer.”

Linstead’s outdoor shots were produced using more “traditional techniques,” he says, and a fast lens, such as a 300mm f2.8 or a 500mm f4 and a camera “well suited to action like the Nikon D3.  The camera is often hand-held, rarely tripod mounted -- to improve mobility.”

His indoor shots, involving “studios” set up in places ranging from his kitchen to a warehouse, took anywhere from a few hours to several days to capture, he says. The photo of the Brown Basilisk lizard running on water took the longest -- a week before the creature actually did the deed.

Using Phototrap, Linstead not only photographs “the elusive, but also the unimaginably quick.  I overcome the limitation of human reaction time and endurance for photographing phenomena that occur once a day and on no particular schedule.  This is the domain that is popularly known as high-speed photography.”

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