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April Page 1 Scott Linstead

Written By onci on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 | 6:10 AM

Infrared Tripwire Photography by Scott Linstead

My initial foray into tripwire photography was birthed out of the need to produce more high-impact imagery on an annual basis. For better or worse, I think of myself as a "trophy shooter" and I rely on the universal impact of such images to sell written features. So, getting started with the indoor studio combined with the infrared tripwire for high action subjects was initially an economical decision.

Eventually, the philosophy of the indoor studio spilled over into outdoor shooting of wild subjects. I was skeptical about what limited degree of artistic control a photographer could have in such a scenario remembering the early photographic efforts on the elusive cats. The first images of snow leopards with remote cameras where a great achievement, but the on-camera-flash-look produced a decidedly "deer in the headlights" effect. Much like Steve Winter found with his award winning snow leopard coverage, the clever and creative use of off-camera flash puts the creative control of lighting back in the hands of the photographer.

However, the approach need not be applied exclusively to the ultra-elusive subjects like the snow leopard. Tripwire photography opens up a world of possibilities with bats and owls in nocturnal flight. The visual cues that diminish the look of flash-as-main-light images like shadowless subjects and cold, bluish light can be overcome with off-camera flashes and custom white balances, respectively.

The telephoto point of view is no longer a limitation since the photographer no longer has to physically trip the shutter. Dramatic, near-far compositions of owls swooping on prey can be achieved with wide-angle lenses. Action that is beyond the abilities of the modern auto focus system suddenly become within the realm of photographic possibility. With the advent of digital immediacy, multi-flash, tripwire image-making is moving beyond the pure documentary image and becoming a powerful, new creative tool.

Scott Linstead

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