Reflections on the slow-moving Merced River give this image a sense of melancholy stillness. Further conveying this impression is a dead tree in the center of the image, one of two trees that dominate the composition. Among many photographs made by Carleton Watkins, this one juxtaposes the static and the dynamic. Beside the decaying tree, however, a young and healthy one thrives. Adjacent to both is the enduring facade of El Capitan.