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Malakoff Diggings, North Bloomfield, California

1871

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

In this highly detailed overview, Carleton Watkins looked down upon a hydraulic mining operation and recorded the early intrusion of industry upon the landscape. A layered, dense forest surrounds the mine, which recedes into the background, subordinated to the stripped and littered foreground. A diagonal pipe, ferrying precious resources to an unseen destination, bisects the bleak clearing. A lone building in the upper left center peeks out from a crevice, giving a sense of scale. Watkins's lens, encompassing a vast depth of field, sharply drew each stone and pebble in the mine, each striation of rock.

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