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

  1. #21

    Join Date
    Sep 2007

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    My garsh, Garrett, I was just looking at two of my own 8x10 negs of that same tree yesterday! It's not far from my hometown area. Never knew he was there, but within 20 yrs a logging rail was in there cutting down almost every big tree except that one (nobody had a saw long enough), so it wasn't exactly a secret place. He would have encountered the trail into that grove when heading into Yosemite on the route from the south, so it makes sense, really. It's the biggest tree in the world according to Forest Service rules, which are based upon girth at eight feet above ground. But Park Service rules are based on cumulative board footage, limbs n all, which makes the General Sherman tree in Sequoia NP the world's biggest in their eyes. An even bigger one was cut down in Sequoia and the stump turned into a dance platform. Watkins had to deal with almost exactly the same background clutter I did. I recognize specific trees. And even a big chunk of the same fallen foreground limb remains. My own compositions were vertical, but I cheated with a generous dose of red dye on the neg to block out the distracting background. It's been about 15 yrs since I last printed it. My babysitter as an infant went into Yos Valley that direction as little girl not long after that shot was taken. I was too young to remember her stories, but my parents did, and her daughter, already elderly woman herself, told them to me when I watered her garden as a kid. Indians resident in the Valley were still unclothed, and obviously not driven out yet. I've seen ambrotypes. But Yos Indians were Sierra Miwok, and that particular Sequoia grove was in Paiute-descent Monache territory, who weren't always kind to the Miwoks. Somewhere in the family collection there is also a pile of Watkins stereo prints of Yosemite, but those aren't regarded as highly collectible like the big individual prints. He mass marketed those.
    That is very cool Drew, thanks for the info. I know a guy that loved Watkins, and started wetplate before many others had resurrected it in recent times. Bob Szabo, shot some plates at that tree too. He's one of the guys that would know what lens Watkins used....I asked one other guy first, I can't find his email any more. He used to run a big CW tintype forum, that got me turned onto learning wetplate, and in turn....large format.

    PGK, I'm sure you've been here:

    I think there are a couple Grubb experts on this forum. I know one has one in mammoth size.

  2. #22

    Join Date
    May 2018
    A Scottish Island

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

    In case anyone is interested, there is a contemporary report (August 15th 1863) on the Globe lens here: (and complete with sticky tape repairs!)

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