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.