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Thread: Which lenses did Carleton Watkins use in 1861 for his mammoth plate camera

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    Which lenses did Carleton Watkins use in 1861 for his mammoth plate camera

    I'm currently researching a number of photographers and trying to tie them into to the existent optical technology of their time. Whilst this question has been asked before, I'm interested in what lenses were used for the early 1861ish mammoth images, as some of the lenses that I've seen attributed to Carleton Watkins use were almost certainly not available for his first trip into Yosemite. So what was he using to cover this large format? If anyone can help a source of the information would be really helpful. Thanks.

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    Re: Which lenses did Carleton Watkins use in 1861 for his mammoth plate camera


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    Re: Which lenses did Carleton Watkins use in 1861 for his mammoth plate camera

    Perhaps Emil Schildt's ash tray? (8:44)


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    Re: Which lenses did Carleton Watkins use in 1861 for his mammoth plate camera

    "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."

    from the thread at
    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...and-In-General

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    Re: Which lenses did Carleton Watkins use in 1861 for his mammoth plate camera

    Yes, but. the Harrison and Schnitzer wasn't patented until 1862 and Dallmeyer only started making lenses in late 1860 (mostly stereo from what I can find out so far and his Triple Achromat seems to have been produced in 1861 so was unlikely to have been available to take to California immediately). The Grubb I do know about and this was available from 1858, but was only intended for up to 10" x 8" lens although it could be used at 12" x 10". Which seems to leave a gap in the lenses used in Yosemite in 1861.

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    Re: Which lenses did Carleton Watkins use in 1861 for his mammoth plate camera

    It wouldn't surprise me if these were custom-made lenses with no patent or brand name.

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    Re: Which lenses did Carleton Watkins use in 1861 for his mammoth plate camera

    The problem from my point of view is that there is information which mentions specific lenses but I find it difficult to find any confirmation of any claims. My interest is trying to see how technology drove the imagery and its very difficult to link specific innovation in lens technology to specific imagery.

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    Re: Which lenses did Carleton Watkins use in 1861 for his mammoth plate camera

    The last book that was written about Carleton Watkins the plate size was mention to be 18" x 22", a camera he built himself, otherwise, I saw no other comments about equipment throughout the book.

    "Making the West by Tyler Green"

    Find your research a good one to pursue.

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    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Which lenses did Carleton Watkins use in 1861 for his mammoth plate camera

    Whatever lens it was for 18x22, it was poorly correctly toward the corners, just as one would expect during that era.

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    Re: Which lenses did Carleton Watkins use in 1861 for his mammoth plate camera

    I also think your project of linking lens technology to imagery an excellent idea. You might want to find the lens, then the photographer and then look for images. Good luck!

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