Yosemite in 3D

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Carleton Watkins was a critically-acclaimed landscape photographer in the 19th century. His photos of Yosemite are considered groundbreaking examples of stereoscopic photography. Smithsonian has a feature on Watkins and a pleasant narrated slideshow about his Yosemite 3D photographs. From Smithsonian:

In July of 1861 (Watkins) went to Yosemite--with a dozen mules to carry his mammoth plate camera, which uses 18 by 22 inch glass plate negatives; a stereoscopic camera; tripods; glass plates; chemicals; other supplies and a tent for a darkroom. The trails into and through the valley were spectacularly scenic, but also treacherous.

Watkins returned from Yosemite with 30 mammoth plate and 100 stereoscopic negatives. They were quickly revered as images of superb technical and artistic quality. Watkins explained that he was just able to select the spot which "would give the best view." He was also a patient and precise camera and developing process technician. One reviewer admired Watkins' photographs for their "clearness, strength and softness of tone." In part because of Watkins' Yosemite pictures, in 1864 Congress passed and President Lincoln signed legislation preserving Yosemite Valley. The law was an important first step in the creation of the National Park Service in 1916. In 1865, Mount Watkins in Yosemite was named after Carleton Watkins.

Carleton Watkins (Smithsonian)