First View of the Valley
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Carleton E. Watkins
American, Yosemite, California, about 1866
Albumen silver print
16 3/16 x 20 5/8 in.

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Carleton Watkins positioned his camera in what appears to be midair, capturing the breathtaking effect of the view of Yosemite Valley on first-time visitors. The wonder and amazement led one spectator to proclaim, ''I can tell you nothing of the beauty and grandeur of the scenery--I could not speak, my breath was gone . . . .It is truly the great work of God." Such a remark reveals that Watkins's photographs confirmed the sense of wonder celebrated in America's grand wilderness.