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El Capitan Reflection, Yosemite

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 7 April 2009 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

This one's fun to put on a wall at a show, then watch people's reactions when they see it. At first they're disoriented, sometimes twisting their heads upside-down to figure it out, before the ultimate flash of comprehension sets in. It's a good shot to illustrate the value of finding a unique perspective, something I think is extremely important for photographers wanting to take their craft to the next level.

Leading as many workshops as I do, I've noticed that many photographers come to places like Yosemite in search of favorite or "classic" shots. These shots are favorites for a reason, and I absolutely think they're a worthy objective for anyone who doesn't have them. But my feeling is that the classic shots should be the starting point, not the ultimate goal. Start with the classic and build from there--experiment with orientation, perspective, foreground/background, anything to make a scene your own.

A couple of unrelated points: First, a reflection like this is only possible in fall of a fairly dry year (when flow in the Merced River is at its lowest), and requires the confluence of several other factors. You need clear air (no haze), perfectly still water, a sunlit reflective subject, and a shaded reflective surface. The other point I want to make is that I took this over five years ago with my 6 megapixel Canon 10d. Yet despite the relatively low resolution, it remains one of my most successful images--in fact I've sold prints of this up to 24x36. This should be a lesson for everyone out there chasing megapixels (do as I say, not as I do)--megapixels are not a measure of image quality, and while there have been many improvements in camera technology over the last five years, far too many photographers suffer from pixel envy.

The September issue of Sierra Heritage magazine has a two page spread of this image, and a couple of paragraphs from me.

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Didier DE ZAN from somewhere, France

Very beautiful mirror beautiful photograph

7 Apr 2009 5:47am

MEC from Setúbal, Portugal

A wonderful photo!

7 Apr 2009 11:36am

Uday from Fishers, United States

Beautiful. Very nice. It looks very nice with just the reflection shown rather than both sides. Nice framing.

7 Apr 2009 12:19pm

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

What perfect reflections in such still water!

7 Apr 2009 5:47pm

Stunner from Kingston, Jamaica

Awesome reflection!

7 Apr 2009 6:22pm

Judy from Brooksville, Florida, United States

This is beautiful!
When we were there we watched climbers scaling that rock wall and setting up their 'hammocks' to spend the night; it was quite a site!

7 Apr 2009 7:44pm

@Judy: Thanks, Judy. Yes, watching the climbers on El Capitan is popular pastime in Yosemite, though the achievement is surely overrated as this picture proves that it's actually downhill all the way. :)