At the same time Julia Margaret Cameron was arranging her household into portraits and Munby was dressing up Cullwick, there was a movement in the United States towards viewing the unspoiled American West as idyllic and artists using it to construct a sense of nationalism. Many artists did much the same that Munby and Cameron did in carefully constructing their images to project an intended message or meaning. In the mid-19th Century, tension between expansion and industry, the city and the country, nationalism and land in the United States caused a boom in landscape portraiture that depicted the West as a lush, beautiful wilderness.
A particular photographer by the name of Carleton E. Watkins took a different vantage point on capturing images of the American West. He was a commercial photographer responisble for publicizing the Yosemite region to the rest of the country. What Watkins did differently is that he showed the place as it was. Unlike the Munbys and Camerons, he selected his best images but did not fabricate them. Painters and photographers with the same focus as Watkins (to capture the West in art) strove to make their works the most beautiful, glorious, and inspiring. Watkins showed a real place as what it really was.
His photograph “Yosemite Valley from ‘Best General View'” shows his vision of showing what is really there. Where many artists would remove the ugly bare tree from the breathtaking view, Watkins embraces it as the focus for the picture. He does not falsify his image and shows that while the land is undeniably beautiful, sometimes it is ugly too, and that’s just the way it is.
For more photographs check out http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/watkins/list.html