Week 8 - 2016

The call of the wild

Carleton Watkins, Down the Valley, Yosemite, 1865. Preus museum's collection.

The call of the wild

Did you know that March 3rd is World Wildlife Day? This United Nations day brings attention to the earth's fantastic diversity of wild animals and plants. It also reminds us of the ongoing struggle to prevent crimes against wild animals and plants. 


Environmental protection and tourism began with people such as Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916). In 1861 he set out on an impressive expedition to photograph Yosemite Valley, a beautiful natural area earlier considered completely inaccessible.


Available technology required taking masses of equipment to photograph in the wilderness. He took a darkroom-van and twelve mules fully loaded with gear. The camera he used for his huge pictures required so-called mammoth plates: glass plates measuring at least 18x22 inches, or 45x56 cm.


He returned with beautiful landscape photographs. Their great popularity influenced others to see the value of the undisturbed natural world, and this was involved when Congress declared Yosemite a national park in 1872.