All the grandeur of the American West in the mid-nineteenth century is reflected in this selection of "mammoth," or large-format, photographs made by Carleton Watkins in or around Yosemite Valley, California. This fully illustrated book, produced to accompany the exhibition Dialogue among Giants held at the J. Paul Getty Museum from October 14, 2008, to March 1, 2009, takes us on a tour of the great Yosemite Valley from the view at Inspiration Point to the panorama high above the valley at Glacier Point, following in the footsteps of Yosemite's first surveyors.
The images included here, all selected from the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, range from photographs of the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoia trees to views of breathtaking waterfalls cascading into pristine rivers to the landmarks that best symbolize the noble beauty of Yosemite Valley, such as El Capitan, Half Dome, Cathedral Rocks, Mirror Lake, and the Three Brothers. Together they show the evolution of the photographer's work from a high poetic style to a deeply intimate and personal one.
Weston Naef is curator emeritus in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.