A photographic artwork with the cryptic name of 'Half Dome Merced River' leaves one wondering what to expect.

A first glance reveals all: the photograph combines the well-known Yosemite Half Dome with the Merced River.

The Half Dome presents itself centre stage: it is a granite mountain, a rock that tells the story of nature's rough passage.

Eons of sitting there, being violently caressed by driving rain, gale-force winds and metres of weighty snow have coaxed and smoothed the hard rock into eye-catching symmetry.

The mountain has acquired the geometric shape of a dome, neatly sliced down the middle, like a cross-section drawing, with a concave interior like a performance dome waiting for some wilderness performer.

It looms majestically over the Merced River below. Tall, wind-bent, snow-laden pines also lean over the glassy water which icily reflects the surrounding snowy forest. High-cloud skies complete this daunting, black-and-white portrayal of unbridled nature.

This is scenic photographer Ansel Adams at his environmental best, capturing nature at its most remote and rugged, thrusting its majestic beauty, coldness and inaccessibility into the eye of the beholder.