ALGER COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – When you are out at the UP200 this weekend, you might see many people taking pictures with their camera flash. Did you the person credited with flash photography at night has a U.P. connection?
“George Shiras, his family actually had a camp that still exists along Laughing Whitefish River right there and they would come to that camp and he started getting into photography,” Chris Cantway, A Restoration Associate with The Nature Conservancy said. “I don’t know all the details of George Shiras III but there is actually a book about it, but I do know that he was the first person to take wildlife photography at night and it happened right there in the Laughing White Fish Lake Preserve. He took pictures of whitetail deer, beaver, bobcats, frogs, whatever he could find.
Shiras is credited to be the father of wildlife photography. In 1906, National Geographic published 74 of Shiras’ photographs, and then in 1928, 2,400 glass plate negatives were donated to The Society and they still remain in the archives today.
“He needed flash photography and also that was a pretty new thing to use flash photography so that you can actually see at night but he got his photos in a couple of different ways which I found really interesting,” Cantway said. “One way was he would set up camera traps with bait so the critter would walk up nibble on the bait, the flash would go off and it would take a photo and he didn’t have to be there. The other way he did it was he would sit in his canoe at night quietly and he’d have a camera mounted on the front of the canoe. He would wait until he heard a noise or heard movement and when he heard that movement or heard that noise, he would point the camera in that direction. Take a photo and then the flash goes off and he would get a photo of that animal.”
The Nature Conservancy will be hosting a warming tent at the UP200. The tent will be located on the corner of Washington St. and Front St. There will be warm drinks such as hot chocolate and coffee as well as cowbells and hats.