11 Surreal Reflection Photos of Yosemite's Most Iconic Landmarks

Stunning film photography turns the placid Merced River into a mirror, capturing El Cap & Half Dome with dreamlike double vision

11 Surreal Reflection Photos of Yosemite's Most Iconic Landmarks

Author

Danny Thorn

Photographer

Danny Thorn

Camera

Nikon F6

Film

Kodak Portra 800

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Danny Thorn is a Brooklyn-based film photographer with a keen eye for the decisive moment. Follow Danny on Instagram here.

When I set my eyes on Yosemite for the first time, I couldn't help but wonder what it was like for those humans who first discovered this place thousands of years ago. Even after seeing so many pictures of the Valley before being there in person, it still filled me with so much awe and reverence I felt like I was bursting at the seams. I remember standing there thinking about what had transpired before my existence in order to create this natural masterpiece, and how fortunate I was to live and breathe in this place, in that moment.

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Millions of years of work culminating in what I saw before my eyes; millions of years of natural selection gifting me a human body that allowed me to fully experience this natural wonder.

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Perhaps the most awe-inspiring attribute of Yosemite Valley is the Merced River. And I will always remember this trip as the time when I fell in love with it. It is truly a photographer's dream—a meandering mirror of water that snakes through the Valley and amplifies the already unmatched beauty of everything it touches, providing seemingly limitless opportunities to discover hidden natural symmetries and stumble upon little pots of photographic gold. 

During my five day visit it became somewhat of a treasure hunt as I scoured what felt like every inch of the Valley and its open riverbanks, searching for pockets of calm waters and still pools of glass that echoed the surrounding scenes. Vibrant fall colors acted as icing on the cake.

"An unmatched, indescribable feeling of zen washes over me when I’m in the wilderness—a high I found myself chasing throughout this trip."

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There's something quite powerful about the mental allure of these scenes, in addition to the obvious visual appeal. An unmatched, indescribable feeling of zen washes over me when I’m in the wilderness. Standing in front of a completely and utterly calm body of water only amplifies this feeling—it’s a high that I found myself chasing throughout this trip.

I remember reading about the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” and instantly recalling my time in Yosemite. Each time I look at one of these photos I’m reminded of the peace I felt when living and breathing in that rare and special space.

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"The Merced River is truly a photographer's dream—a meandering mirror of water that snakes through the Valley and amplifies the already unmatched beauty of everything it touches."

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Published 11-07-2019

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