Watkins Revisited

In preparation for another trip to California to photograph, I was reading certain sections of Robert Dawson’s Farewell Promised Land, in which, I found these pictures by Carlton Watkins. They are not exactly new to me, but they made me realize that he might have been ahead of his time in regards to his concern about for-profit destruction of the landscape. It is also interesting the he is photographing the negative result of his, and other 19th century survey photographers’, publicity of the Western Landscape.

It is well recognized that, in the 20th century, photographers such as Robert Adams were working with what was the reality of the Western landscape, not the romanticized West that Ansel Adams was promoting (even if in the name of conservation), but I wonder if anyone ever considered Carlton Watkins the “Original New Topographic.”


  Carleton E. Watkins
No. B 180, Hydraulic Mining Piping, Nevada County California

Watkins #61 - Hydraulic Mining at Gold Run. Placer County



  Image courtesy of The Society of California Pioneers
Barcode number — C009369

About Richard Boutwell

I am an emerging photographer originally from the Hi-Desert of Southern California, and relocated to Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 2002 for an intensive apprenticeship with the photographers Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee. I now live in Philadelphia, and concentrate on my own projects and writing.
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