Carleton Watkins

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by ongarine, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. ongarine

    ongarine Member

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    Your opinion about one of the most interesting pioneer in photography.
    Not so much cited by ULF photographers, why?
    He was without doubt one of the father of US photography.
     
  2. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I posted about Carleton Watkins on the old APUG site after visiting the exhibit at the Getty. He was a very talented photographer who produced truly incredible landscapes! He routinely hauled 1 - 2000 pound wet plate ULF photography kits into the back country during the second half of the 19th century.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've posted about Watkins, I think over on the LF forum after seeing the Watkins exhibit at the Met in New York. Indeed impressive for hauling around those big glass plates, and also for establishing a photographic tradition with others like O'Sullivan that would lay the groundwork for Adams in the 20th Century.
     
  4. ongarine

    ongarine Member

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    Dear Tom and David,
    I'm unable to find your previous posts about C. Watkins.
    Could you be so gentle to give me the indications to find them.
    Many thanks
    Daniele
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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  6. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    2 Astonishing exhibits in the last month. Carleton Watkins!

    How did he do it!

    I have been lucky to see both the Columbia River Gorge pictures at the Portland Art Museum, and the Huge intallation currently running at the Getty. Both were full of astounding 18X22 Mammoth Plate photographs done by this man. They truly humble me. They would easily humble Ansel's best work 70 years later.

    My question is whether anyone knows what lens he used to accomplish these magnificent pieces. OK, turn the clock backwards to 1865 before you start throwing your guesses. That limits him to Petzval's and Landscape meniscii. Yet his pictures are sharp all they way into the corners and near forgrounds within a few feet of the camera are sharp as are infinity. Now he also had to contend with wet plates and ASA of less than 1? If he stopped down to f64 it would take all day for an exposure right?

    Was he a VERY early (first year) adopter of the Rapid Rectilinear? The 1867 photos in Portland could have been done with one of Mr. Dallmeyer's RR's? But the earlier photos exhibit the same character.

    If you can get to either show, GO! The Getty is displaying a mammoth plate studio camera with an enormous lens. It is fully twice the size of my Century 8 11X14.
     
  7. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I was down in SoCal (down by San Diego) for the Thanksgiving week -- and had planned on going to the Getty with my mother (who is 86). But my mom had problems with her feet and had to stay off of them more than a visit to the Getty would allow. I should have gone on my own, but I drove 1000 miles to get there and hated the idea of getting back in the car and drive across all of LA.

    So me and my boys hit the beach instead and I got a bunch of body-surfing in (which is difficult to do here in the northwest)...which is as good for my soul as looking at Watkins prints (plus I have two prints from mammoth plates on my wall to look at whenever I want to). I did catch some of his work at the Oakland Museum some years ago. I do wish I could have fitted it in with my schedule, though.

    Vaughn
     
  8. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    I think one of the most astonishing pictures at least for me was the one of the San Fernando Mission. A place I grew up with. In the 1860's it was completely derelict and used for feed storage and shade for his animals by the local farmer. That's a view I would have never seen, only imagined except for Carleton Watkins.
     
  9. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I get the same feeling from his Columbia River Gorge photos -- seeing what the Gorge was like before all the dams. Vaughn
     
  10. ongarine

    ongarine Member

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    One of my beloved photographer of every time. Jim you are in the right place in the right time even if your surname belong to my country :smile:. I really envy you for this live view of Carleton Watkins mammoth plates. IMO he used Landscape meniscus, but his technical skills are unbelivable for the tools of that period. I think he changed lenses after 1870 or around and he took photos with RR. Landscape lenses of the period could gave very sharp and dettailed images, but what puzzle me is the coverage he needs to cover these big plates and their "slowness". About your consideration: "They would easily humble Ansel's best work 70 years later" I completely agree with you even if this could be "dangerous" for many Apugers.
     
  11. Don12x20

    Don12x20 Member

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    And there is a book by Weston Naef, "Carleton Watkins in Yosemite", that accompanies the exhibit. Order from Getty bookstore.
     
  12. Brickbird

    Brickbird Subscriber

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    Jim..In a book I have it is said he possibly used a Grubb-C in his early 1860's work but had to cut off the corners due to the lack of coverage for his mammoth plates and dicarded it for a wide-angled lens which he used for the 1865-66 Yosemite Survey pictures. They began to show much more space in the photos and he ceased cutting the corners of the photos after the purchase of the wide lens.....From a great book I bought at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft.Worth called CARLETON WATKINS--THE ART OF PERCEPTION....hope this helps...........Tav
     
  13. david b

    david b Member

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    I am going to see the show at the Getty in about 3 weeks. Can't wait.
     
  14. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    That fits very well as some of the earliest photos have the framing with the rounded corners at the top. Sort of gothic looking. Someone here mentioned the 2 element globe lens which seems very possible. With 18X22 you wouldn't need the kind of lpmm that we consider necessary these days.
     
  15. Don12x20

    Don12x20 Member

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    Actually the lens Watkins was using was the Harrison & Schnitzer American Globe lens.
    One actually was auctioned in recent years and the following website has three nice images of a good copy of the lens.

    http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/3633920
     
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I was going to say globe lens as well... or perhaps something like my Darlot Hemispherique Extra Rapide. Not sure of the production dates on the Hemispherique, but mine is a 210-ish f8 and covers whole plate - supposedly a #2 size. I think they came up to a #5 or #6, which might have had the coverage to hit the corners on 18x22.
     
  17. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Three threads merged.
     
  19. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    I've believed for a long time that the only reason that so many herald St. Ansel instead of St. Watkins is the incredibly strong development of national marketing that accompanied Ansel's time period. Watkins' achievements boggle the mind.

    Leo
     
  20. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Ansel also had a more dramatic style facilitated by panchromatic films, and he had easier printing methods, but I agree that mass communication was also part of the Adams phenomenon.
     
  21. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    To bad he suffered in the end of his life.Lived in a box car with his family,committed to an insane asylum and a greater insult of having all his negs destroyed in the San Fransisco earthquake.
     
  22. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    And his first set of negatives were "stolen" in a bankrupcy sale by his partner while he was out on a photo expedition. The set destroyed in the SF earthquake was his second set ("New Series", I believe).

    Always has been one of my favorites -- I grew up with two of his prints in the hallway.

    Vaughn