o'sullivan made the photographs for the federal government to record the property they had just "bought" ... surveys so they could make maps.
definitely different "genres" but sort of the same. ...
who knows what would have happened if their places in history were swapped. if ansel adams was the government contractor and osullivan was the "artist" ...Yeah, I'd agree with that, and in general he might well have gravitated to most of the same techniques as Adams if he'd had the materials. I still get very different artistic voices from them, and I tend to think Adams deserves credit for the cultural birth of that pristine-grand-landscape gestalt in photography, even if he *did* reuse O'Sullivan's tripod holes to do it. (Indeed I think it speaks quite well of both of them that they could tell two different stories about the same raw material.)
i think adam's work might have looked like osullivan's ( except for the tent )
and osullivan would have had 20 shades of grey because his materials would have allowed it.
we are lucky to live in a time where we can easily see work of a bizillion different photographers or painters or ... just a keystroke away
it wasn't too long ago that traveling shows that presented magic lantern slides + stereoscopic views &c were common ...