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Camera Hunter

George Shiras III and the Birth of Wildlife Photography
By James H. McCommons

Details

Overview

In 1906 George Shiras III (1859–1942) published a series of remarkable nighttime photographs in National Geographic. Taken with crude equipment, the black-and-white photographs featured leaping whitetail deer, a beaver gnawing on a tree, and a snowy owl perched along the shore of a lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The pictures, stunning in detail and composition, celebrated American wildlife at a time when many species were going extinct because of habitat loss and unrestrained hunting. As a congressman and lawyer, Shiras joined forces with his friend Theodore Roosevelt and scientists in Washington, DC, who shaped the conservation movement during the Progressive Era. His legal and legislative efforts culminated with the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Camera Hunter
recounts Shiras’s life and craft as he traveled to wild country in North America, refined his trail-camera techniques, and advocated for the protection of wildlife. This biography serves as an important record of Shiras’s accomplishments as a visual artist, wildlife conservationist, adventurer, and legislator.

Contributor Bios
James H. McCommons is a professor teaching journalism in the English Department at Northern Michigan University. He is the author of Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service.