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Thread: Carlton Watkins, Equipmwnt and In General...

  1. #1
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Carlton Watkins, Equipmwnt and In General...

    Having recently fallen into an example of a lens used by Carleton Watkins, a Mammoth-size (16-inch) Harrison & Schnitzer Globe Lens, I've of course wasted hours reading all the Watkins threads here and on the 'net in general. Adding to the general knowledge, here's a photo purportedly of Watkins' camera:



    from the site: http://www.undiscovered-yosemite.com...ographers.html

    I have no idea if that's Watkins' camera or not, but the lens definitely looks like my Globe, and it's a pretty rare and distinctive lens, so I'm inclined to think it is. However, by the scale of the lens I'd say that's an 8x10 to 9x13 camera.

    Here's the only other image I've run across claiming to show Watkins' camera, and it doesn't show much, on top of his wagon at the upper left...



    from the site: http://cosweb.siskiyous.edu/shasta/art/cla.htm

    About the mammoth (18x22) camera, I've found numerous references that Watkins had it custom built by a San Francisco cabinet maker. He's also reported to have used 14x21, 9x13, 8x10, whole-plate and stereo formats.

    And the lenses he's known to have used:
    a Grubb-C Landscape Lens, (a 15-inch achromatic doublet rated for 8x10 to 10x12),
    a Harrison & Schnitzer 16-inch Globe lens, (rated for 19x23),
    and an unknown Dallmeyer.

    If anyone can add any information, please do.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

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    Re: Carlton Watkins, Equipmwnt and In General...

    You might try contacting Luther Gerlach. Considering his love of vintage cameras of late 19th century and wet plate I suspect he might has some information.

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    Re: Carlton Watkins, Equipmwnt and In General...

    I suppose you are aware of this book:
    https://shop.getty.edu/products/carl...978-1606060056

    I saw the exhibit at the Getty (is it a permanent show or a one-off? I don't know), and it was incredible! I remember gigantic prints where you could keep moving closer and closer, seeing more and more. Such detail, and it blew me away.

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    Re: Carlton Watkins, Equipmwnt and In General...

    Check out halfway down the page, here: http://arthistoryunstuffed.com/carle...ins-1829-1916/

    The picture, direct link: http://arthistoryunstuffed.com/wp-co...oth-camera.jpg

    Another article. Uncertainty about whether it's the real camera or not, complete with a LF troll post at the bottom:
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/cult...on-watkin.html

    Another mammoth shot, from the wrong side. It is Watkins or Jackson? More than one mammoth? :
    http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/mjodon...o/photo07.html

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    Re: Carlton Watkins, Equipmwnt and In General...

    Also consider contacting some of the museums on the west coast. I know the Portland Art Museum here has much of his work, especially since he spent some time here around the Gorge. They may have further information or images or connections to resources that they could help you with.

    ~nicholas
    ~nicholas
    lifeofstawa
    stawastawa at gmail

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    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Carlton Watkins, Equipmwnt and In General...

    As does the Oakland Museum of Art.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

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    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Carlton Watkins, Equipmwnt and In General...

    Quote Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
    Check out halfway down the page, here: http://arthistoryunstuffed.com/carle...ins-1829-1916/

    The picture, direct link: http://arthistoryunstuffed.com/wp-co...oth-camera.jpg

    Another article. Uncertainty about whether it's the real camera or not, complete with a LF troll post at the bottom:
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/cult...on-watkin.html

    Another mammoth shot, from the wrong side. It is Watkins or Jackson? More than one mammoth? :
    http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/mjodon...o/photo07.html
    The camera in the museum has been cited in a few places as a "reproduction in the style of the camera Watkins used". I believe it was borrowed from a modern wet plate photographer for the exhibit. Watkins camera was probably lost along with much of his work in the 1906 San Francisco fire.

    Yup, that last image is of William Henry Jackson and his mammoth plate camera.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  8. #8
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Carlton Watkins, Equipmwnt and In General...

    Quote Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
    I suppose you are aware of this book:
    https://shop.getty.edu/products/carl...978-1606060056

    I saw the exhibit at the Getty (is it a permanent show or a one-off? I don't know), and it was incredible! I remember gigantic prints where you could keep moving closer and closer, seeing more and more. Such detail, and it blew me away.
    Yup, I have that book in my lap right now! It seems like Watkins produced several lifetimes worth of work in only one. Wish I could have seen the exhibit...
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  9. #9
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Carlton Watkins, Equipmwnt and In General...

    Quote Originally Posted by stawastawa View Post
    Also consider contacting some of the museums on the west coast. I know the Portland Art Museum here has much of his work, especially since he spent some time here around the Gorge...
    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    As does the Oakland Museum of Art.
    Watkins got down to the Arizona Territory too, photographing Views in Tucson, Tombstone, Yuma, San Xavier Mission, the ruins at Casa Grande, and a number of desert cactus studies.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  10. #10
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Carlton Watkins, Equipmwnt and In General...

    Another stunning book of Watkins' mammoth photographs is Carleton Watkins: The Stanford Albums, published by Stanford University Press in 2014. About 150 prints are reproduced at about half size. Unfortunately, the several essays mention little about Watkins' camera equipment.

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