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Library to host virtual author talk July 20

James H. McCommons

Join the Alpena County Library for a virtual author talk with Michigan Notable Book author James H. McCommons as he discusses his book, “Camera Hunter: George Shiras III and the Birth of Wildlife Photography,” at 6:30 p.m. July 20 over the videoconferencing software Zoom.

Spots are limited. Registration is required and can be made at forms.gle/2rLRi4w74zJCBLvU8

In 1906, George Shiras III (1859-1942), a lawyer and amateur naturalist from Pittsburgh, published a series of remarkable nighttime photographs in National Geographic, then a small and struggling scientific journal not yet known for its photography. Taken with crude and bulky equipment on a lake in the Upper Peninsula, the black-and-white photographs featured leaping whitetail deer, a beaver gnawing on an aspen tree, and a snowy owl perched along the shore. The pictures, stunning in detail and composition, celebrated American wildlife at a time when many mammal and bird species were declining and going extinct because of habitat loss and unrestrained hunting. At the beginning of the 20th century, wildlife photography gave conservationists a powerful new tool to draw attention to the environmental destruction and rally lawmakers to pass protections and create preserves.

When he became a congressman, Shiras joined forces with President Theodore Roosevelt and a cadre of scientists in Washington, D.C. who shaped the conservation movement during the Progressive Era. His legal and legislative efforts culminated with the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Shiras’s pioneering work in wildlife photography helped National Geographic become the premier magazine of its kind in the world.

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

James H. McCommons is a professor of journalism at Northern Michigan University. He is the author of “Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service.”

For more information visit the Library’s website alpenalibrary.org or the library’s Facebook page.

If you go

∫ WHAT: Author Talk: James H. McCommons, a Michigan Notable Book Author

∫ WHEN: 6:30 p.m. July 20

∫ INFO: Hosted by The Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library, McCommons will discuss his book, “Camera Hunter,” over the videoconferencing software Zoom. Register at forms.gle/2rLRi4w74zJCBLvU8. More information is available at alpenalibrary.org.

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