I can’t remember where I first read about Carleton Watkins, perhaps it was this article in the Smithsonian magazine. For someone like me, who thought that photography started with Ansel Adams, it was something of a revelation to read about and see Watkin’s photographs of the American west and particularly of Yosemite Valley. While many of his photographs are stereograms the views of Yosemite are quite familiar. It was his series of photographs of Yosemite Valley in the 1860s that helped influence Congress’s decision to make the valley a National Park in 1864.
There’s an exhibition of Watkin’s photographs at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University until August 17. To find out more about the exhibition see here. Unfortunately I’m in the wrong part of the country to be able to get to the exhibition but I did get the related book and have been enjoying looking at the photographs.
Recognizing many of the views made famous through the work of Ansel Adams in the Yosemite Valley made me think about what Ansel Adams brought to the table. Perhaps not his vision but his superior control of the medium and printing abilities?
Check out the video below for more details on the exhibition at the Cantor Arts Center.