The First-Ever Photographs of Animals at Night

In Honor of the Longest Night of the Year, Pioneering Work by George Shiras

December 22, 2015  By Lit Hub Photography

george shiras

George Shiras is credited with taking the first-ever nighttime wildlife photographs, using a technique he developed in the early 1890s. Borrowing a hunting trick from the Objibwa called “jacklighting”, Shiras would focus a gaslight on midnight shores (across Canada and the US), waiting to capture the attention of the forest inhabitants with his strange alien moon. He also developed photographic “traps,” remote-triggering snares to capture animals in action, in the depths of the wood.

The following images are collected in a new photographic edition from Editions Xavier Barral, called George Shiras: In the Heart of the Dark Night, by Jean-Christophe Bailly.


Lynx by the pondMoose in the mistHi there, I'm a deerDeer in the waterRaccoon on a logLeaping deerStag at the edge of waterGeorge Shiras


Digital imaging by Nicole Elliott, National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.

Lit Hub Photography
Lit Hub Photography
Photography excerpts are curated by Catherine Talese and Rachel Cobb.

More Story
Five Books Making News This Week: Winos, Art Critics, and Belated Praise This week we see cultural crossovers—wine and art critics review books about wine and art. A book editor, looking back...