Did you know that after National Geographic published its first wildlife photographs in July 1906, two of the National Geographic Society board members “resigned in disgust“? They argued that the reputable magazine was “turning into a ‘picture book’”.
Luckily for us, it did turn out to become quite a picture book. Those first wildlife photos published in the magazine were captured by George Shiras, III, and marked quite a few “firsts.”
Shiras was a lawyer and politician by day — a U.S. Representative from the state of Pennsylvania — and a pioneering photographer by night (literally!). His nighttime photographs of animals represent some of the earliest examples of flash photography.
To achieve his shots, Shiras pioneered a number of different photo-making methods. One was to float silently across water in complete darkness. When he heard rustling nearby, he would point his camera system and snap a flash photograph in that direction.