You’ll hardly recognise California’s dry, desert landscape in this latest series of shots by photographer Ryan Berg. Shot in infrared, Ryan’s pictures of Death Valley National Park offer a completely different view of this popular attraction, rendering it almost unrecognisable. Familiar, earthy tones are replaced by vivid, eerie pinks that look like they’re from a future dystopia.
“Death Valley has been on my radar for a while now”, Ryan tells Lonely Planet. “I love shooting in places that have a surreal look to them, and national parks usually fit the aesthetic perfectly. I’ve been spending a bit more time in the desert lately, having moved to LA this past summer, and I’ve wanted to do an infrared desert series for quite some time. Death Valley seemed to be the perfect place to shoot, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.”
Even in its natural state, says Ryan, Death Valley has an otherworldly feel. “It’s a place unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. It feels like you’re on Mars! The scale of the park is absolutely massive, which can never really be reflected accurately through a photograph. The variety of geographical features is amazing to shoot as well. Death Valley is comprised of land forms including sand dunes, volcanic craters, and a wide array of textured formations. Combined, its really unlike anywhere else.”
Though he’s shot in this style before, Ryan says he was still surprised by the resulting Death Valley pictures. “It was fascinating to see the lack of color compared to some of the other infrared work that I’ve done prior”, he notes. “Infrared photography shows the most color when foliage or any other life is present, and the lack of life in Death Valley resulted in some monochrome images that were really interesting to see. Also, the weather. The series was shot in February, when it had just snowed the night before. The park was covered with clouds as well, giving it a much more dramatic look.”