Photographer Bill Linfield shares photos, stories for education fundraiser | SummitDaily.com

Photographer Bill Linfield shares photos, stories for education fundraiser

Alli Langley
alangley@summitdaily.com

Some assume nature photographer Bill Linfield captures incredible wildlife shots by keeping foxes and other animals as pets in his backyard.

Others think Linfield, whose photos often appear on the cover and inside the Summit Daily, works for the newspaper and must roam the county full time.

Looking at his photos, those are understandable mistakes to make.

The 61-year-old Silverthorne resident has lived in Summit County since the 1970s. He works full time as director of Silverthorne's public works department and has been on the town's staff for 30 years.

"If I'm not at work I'm out taking pictures — before work, after work, weekends — that's what I do, and fortunately I have a very understanding wife who lets me do that," Linfield said.

His wife, Sherry, not only supports Linfield's passion, but she also puts it to good use.

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For the third year in a row Linfield teamed up with a local chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) for a fundraiser featuring 300 of his photos. Linfield's wife, daughter, mother and sisters are all members of the nonprofit.

All money raised at the slideshow event Thursday, April 16, at the Dillon Community Church will go toward scholarships for local women continuing their education.

photos for education

The PEO was started in 1869 by a group of seven women dedicated to education. Since then it has become an international organization with a variety of loan assistance and scholarship programs. The organization has given more than $200 million in financial aid to more than 80,000 recipients.

There are 6,000 PEO chapters throughout the United States and Canada — 240 in Colorado alone — adding up to nearly a quarter-million members.

In Summit County, the two local chapters — the FU chapter and the IB chapter — conduct a variety of fundraisers every year to help local women of all ages further their education.

Summit's FU chapter has been active since 1969 and focuses on scholarships for high school students, while the IB chapter started in 1989 and helps non-traditional students returning to formal education later in life.

Linfield said his presentation for the IB chapter will take about an hour and include roughly 280 photos shot in Summit County.

"He has great stories to go with all of them," said Alicia Dunn, a PEO IB chapter member.

In addition to preparing and presenting the slideshow, Linfield will provide two items for a silent auction — a 24-by-24-inch print of purple lupines in front of Buffalo Mountain, ready to hang, as well as a half-day photography lesson with him in the field.

"It was the best half day of my whole life in terms of photography," said Dunn, who did the lesson two years ago. "It was just amazing. I learned so much."

Event attendees will have the opportunity to ask Linfield about his methods and how he accomplished specific photos.

"He just has such a joy and passion for this," Dunn said. "We're just so grateful that he completely donates this."

ALWAYS CARRYING A CAMERA

Linfield first dabbled in photography after he married his wife nearly 40 years ago. When the couple had kids, his hobby went by the wayside until he picked up his first digital camera, a simple point-and-shoot, about eight years ago.

He remembered why he loved taking photos.

Every year or so since he upgraded his camera equipment, and he now shoots with a Canon DSLR and captures faraway wildlife with a 300-millimeter lens.

Like with any skill, he said, "one of the best ways to get better is just go do it."

He wakes up naturally almost every day at 5 a.m. and is out the door by 6:30 or 7. He spends the next hour driving around, exploring and shooting photos before going to work at 8. Then once he finishes work at 5 p.m., he spends another hour or so searching for more moments to photograph before going home.

"I always have my camera with me. I'm never without it," he said. "You never know when a perfect opportunity is going to present itself."

His weekday routine means he's shooting during the "golden hours" around sunrise and sunset, which are also the times when local animals are most active. Often he shoots from his car, but sometimes he wanders on foot before and after work.

On the weekends, he snowshoes and hikes with Sherry, who knows he'll be stopping often for photos.

It's like walking a dog who wants to sniff everything, Linfield said.

'STOP AND LOOK'

Over the years, Linfield said he has learned how to find wildlife by noting bird nest locations and observing what kind of terrain animals prefer. For example, elk and deer are prevalent around sage brush with nearby cover, and moose love wetlands with willows.

"To get a lot of good pictures you've got to be willing to put in the time," Linfield said. "For every 10 times I go out, two of the times I get a good picture."

On winter mornings, he snowshoes up and down at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. In the summer, he loves hiking above timberline around Upper Straight Creek and Loveland Pass near the Eisenhower Tunnel as well as Elliot Ridge in the Gore Range north of Silverthorne.

He takes a ton of nature shots, however, within five minutes of his house where moose, deer, foxes, raccoons and coyotes ramble.

"Last summer I had three ermine living under my hot tub," he said. "There's so much wildlife in Summit County that if you're just looking you're going to see it. How many people drive to and from work every day and don't just stop and look up at the mountains that we're surrounded by?"

Linfield said he carefully watches animals' body language and listens to their sounds to avoid approaching in a way or from a distance that makes them uncomfortable.

For example, last summer he was taking photos from the road of a bear in one of his neighbor's trash when the bear looked up, swiped its paw in the air and growled.

Linfield walked back home, returned in his car and safely took photos from the getaway vehicle, which he knew was faster than the bear.

One of his tricks for stabilizing his camera is a small beanbag filled with dried rice or pinto beans. He keeps one in his car and takes one on hikes. Occasionally he uses a monopod or he sets up a tripod and waits to trigger the shutter with a remote.

He said he always tries to learn and improve his photography skills.

"Don't always take the same route. Don't always look at the same things," he said he tells others interested.

"There's always something new to see and photograph," he said. "If they ever find my body in the woods, just look at the last picture I took, and you'll know what got me."

IF YOU GO

What: “Through My Lens,” a presentation of photos by Bill Linfield, a frequent Summit Daily contributing photographer.

When: Thursday, April 16, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Where: Dillon Community Church, 371 La Bonte St., Dillon, CO 80435

How much: $10 donation to the Philanthropic Educational Organization, which will be used for scholarships for local women. Refreshments will be served, and a silent auction will feature a Linfield photo print and a half-day lesson with him in the field.

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