Everything has its beginnings and the formalisation of nature photography really gathered pace with Richard and Cherry Kearton, the first professional nature photographers.
No I didn't know that either, but then I read this article in the Guardian. It's interesting how some aspects of photography get sidelined at the expense of other aspects.
First ever picture of a nest 'in use'
The Keartons by John Bevis, details how they were the first people to photograph a nest being used, the first people to photograph a Maasai lion hunt (and you'd think there'd be a lot of pictures of Maasai hunting lions, But there aren't).
Maasai lion hunt, 1910
They started the photographic nature guide, they embraced the idea of authenticity in nature and used outlandish rigs to get close to their subjects.
The picture of the ox shows one of their hides - a hollowed out ox from which they could photograph skylarks and other birdlife from close up. When Cherry Kearton went to Africa to photograph the wildlife, he thought of having a hollowed out zebra as a hide - until somebody pointed out that he might end up either shot by a hunter or as a snack for a lion.
Read the article here.