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Insects, animals captured with high-speed photography

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.”