Inyo National Forest in eastern California comprises 2 million acres and is stretched across 165 miles of the Nevada and California border. The forest is home to Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the Lower 48 (14,494 feet), and the oldest tree, the 4,852-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine named Methuselah. “Inyo” is a Paiute word meaning “dwelling place of a great spirit.”
Ryan, who grew up in the area, returned to capture the fall colors at Intake 2, a small man-made lake in the Inyo National Forest, 16 miles west of the city of Bishop.
“I put a lot of thought into my photographs. Before I take a photograph, I’m waiting to feel if a moment has entered an iconic space for me. When I’m taking a picture, I’m much more methodic. I want to feel the scene I’m in so that I know what I’m taking a picture of. It’s not just the thing that I’m seeing, it’s everything. I ask myself, ‘What would set this scene apart from anyone else coming in to take the shot?’ Although I’m not claiming that I hit that mark often.”
“I’m a nerd about color,” adds Ryan. “I appreciate the still-life scenes that come into play in the outdoor world. How does the scene carry its own iconic quality? I’m always watching the light. I encourage people in my workshops to close their eyes and smell where they are—our sense of smell is our strongest memory sense. Taking a scene in with that memory helps me later on when I’m back home editing the photo. It’s the spirit of the scene that helps me bring it all together.”