Yosemite in HD


Having written about views of Yosemite National Park only a couple of weeks ago, linking to this gorgeous video seemed obligatory. Yosemite HD is a short film by Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty which captures the park in a series of stunning timelapse views during day and night. No CGI, just the natural world via Canon and Zeiss lenses. M83‘s Outro makes a suitably bombastic soundtrack. I could watch a lot more of this.


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Albert Bierstadt in Yosemite
Carleton Watkins in Yosemite

Albert Bierstadt in Yosemite


Sunset in the Yosemite Valley (c. 1868).

After yesterday’s photos of the Yosemite Valley I have to follow up with paintings of the region by Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), a German immigrant whose landscape art is connected to the Hudson River School although much of his work concerned views of California and the Rocky Mountains. Some of the paintings apparently received criticism for their deliberately Romantic approach to landscape, especially the John Martin-like blazing sunsets. All the pictures here date from the same period that Carelton Watkins was taking his celebrated photos of the area (which makes me wonder whether artist and photographer ever met) so complaints about lack of realism would seem somewhat redundant.

Wikimedia Commons has a substantial collection of Bierstadt’s paintings.


Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California (1865).


The Domes of the Yosemite (1867).


Cathedral Rocks, A Yosemite View (1872).

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Carleton Watkins in Yosemite
Two American paintings

Carleton Watkins in Yosemite


Yosemite Valley (c. 1865).

The Getty Museum recently published a large and expensive ($195) volume collecting all the surviving photographs by one of the pioneers of landscape photography, Carleton Watkins (1829–1916). The most important of Watkins’ many photos of California in the mid-19th century are those taken in the Yosemite Valley, a series of views which helped persuade Abraham Lincoln to preserve the area as a national park. The pictures here are from the Watkins collection at the Library of Congress where many of the images can be downloaded as huge (200mb) tiffs. The LoC also has a number of stereograph views. The quality of these pictures is quite stunning when you consider that the photographic medium was only about thirty years old. To capture many of these views Watkins had to cart a bulky glass-plate camera up and down mountain trails.

Carleton Watkins, The Complete Mammoth Photographs edited by Weston Naef & Christine Hult-Lewis can be ordered direct from the Getty Museum. There’s also an earlier study by Weston Naef, Carleton Watkins in Yosemite.


Half Dome, Yosemite Valley (c. 1865).


Cathedral Rock, Yosemite Valley (c. 1865).


Front view, Three Brothers, Yosemite (c. 1865).

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Dead Roads