National Geographic : 1906 Jul
PHOTOGRAPHIN At this point, if the hunting were with the firearm, more largely employed, there would be a red spurt of fire from under the jack-light, and the deer would be struggling and plunging toward the brush; but there is no sound or sign of life, only the slowly gaining light. Twenty-five yards now, and the question is, Will he stand a moment longer? The flash-light apparatus has been raised well above any obstructions in the front of the boat, the powder lies in the pan ready to ignite at the pull of a trigger; everything is in readiness for immediate action. Closer comes the boat, and still the blue, translucent eyeballs watch it. What a strange phenomenon this pretty light is! Nothing like it has ever been seen on the lake during the days of his deerhood. Fifteen yards now, and the tension is be coming great. Suddenly there is a click, and a white wave of light breaks out from the bow of the boat-deer, hills, trees, everything stands out for a moment in the white glare of noonday. A dull re port, and then a veil of inky darkness descends. Just a twenty-fifth of a second has elapsed, but it has been long enough to trace the picture of the deer on the plates of the cameras, and long enough to blind for the moment the eyes of both deer and men. Some place out in the darkness the deer makes a mighty leap; he has sprung toward the boat and a wave of water splashes over its occu pants; again he springs, this time toward the bank; he is beginning to see a little now, and soon he is heard running, as only a frightened deer can, away from G WILD GAME 423 the light that looked so beautiful, but was in fact so terrifying. What an account he will have for his brothers and sisters of the forest of a thing which he himself would not have believed if he had not seen it with his own eyes. In the boat, as it slips away from the bank, plates are being changed and the cameras pre pared again for another mimic battle. Sometimes the pursuit is varied by let ting the deer take its own picture. A string is passed across a runway, or other point where the deer are likely to pass, which, when touched, sets off the trigger and ignites the magnesium pow der. The same method can be used for daylight pictures, except that here a slen der black thread is laid across the path, one end of which is attached to the shut ter of the camera. The shutter revolves as soon as there is any pressure upon the thread, and a picture of any passing ob ject is taken instantaneously. Not the least interesting part of this species of photography is that the operator does not know until he develops his plates what manner of beast, bird, or reptile has caused the shutter to open. So the days pass on and the nights, with all the scents of the woods and the thousand charms of nature and of wild life; all the zest of pursuit, all the setting of the wit of man against the wit of wild beast, all the preparation for the chase, and all the cunning of pursuit, to be re warded with tangible evidences of human skill and patience which will long outlast the details of the scene as caught by the most powerful memory.