The photograph at top of this posting was taken standing atop Mount Santa Lucia in northern California at approximately 2:34 p.m. on January 11, 1880,
I like to think of art as a window not only into our souls, but into time. In this case this window into this particular time and place is of a total eclipse of the Sun. The artist also provided windows, in the form of photographs, of the wilderness that when shown to people of influence resulted in the preservation of Yosemite Valley and other places of natural wonder.
Carleton Watkins was able to make only one exposure during the instant of complete eclipse.
Accompanied by professors from the newly created University of California and the United States Naval Observatory, Watkins waited slightly more than an hour for the moon to begin its movement and assume its temporary position directly in front of the sun. The radiating sun, its brilliance hidden by the black moon, lies suspended over a sea of clouds whose rippling waves dominate the sky. Only the inclusion of the treetops in the foreground serves to ground the image in a familiar reality.
Watkins created sublime images of wilderness, pristine landscapes untouched by humans. These images established icons that furthered environmentalist ideals, helping to back claims about preservation. His photography was also said to have influenced President Abraham Lincoln and was one of the major factors in Lincoln signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864, a bill that declared Yosemite Valley inviolable. The bill paved the way for the 1872 creation of Yellowstone National Park, and the U.S. National Park System in its entirety. One of Yosemite's many mountains is named Mount Watkins in honor of Watkins' part in preserving Yosemite Valley. (Information from wikipedia and Getty Museum )
Yet God is my ruler from of old,
who did deeds of salvation in the midst of the earth.
Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you established the moon and the sun.
You set all the bounds of the earth;
you fashioned both summer and winter.
Psalm 74 verses 11, 15, 16