with Tom Leighton
Fluorescent Photographs by Tom Leighton Highlight the Remarkable Complexities of Plants After Dark
“Plants are incredible stores of energy,” says photographer Tom Leighton, whose fluorescent-tinged images of foliage highlight the incredible night life of plants in his ongoing Variegation series. He explores the detailed colors and textures of leaves and stems, accentuating an important counterpart to the complex daytime process of photosynthesis, which creates chemical energy and oxygen from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. “After the sun fades, the process of photosynthesis stops and respiration begins,” he says. “Plants begin to burn their stored sugars and breathe back in some of the precious oxygen they have created.”
Leighton primarily focuses on species found around his native Cornwall—often in his own garden—and captures contrasting venation patterns, serrated edges, and multiple colors. He digitally removes the green tones we associate with vegetation to reveal glowing violet, pink, and blue hues. “It is very experimental… There are limitless options and techniques that I combine to get to each finished image,” he says, sharing that a minor color choice or a small crop can transform the outcome.
Explore more of Leighton’s work on Behance, his website, and Instagram.
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Unearthly Plant Photos by Tom Leighton Highlight Nighttime Chemical Processes
Otherworldly in appearance, Tom Leighton’s photographs center on stems and leaves that emit a luminous glow, unveiling their delicate structures and highlighting their chemical processes. His Variegation II series reveals the nightlife of foliage—Leighton focuses on plants from Cornwall, some of which he grows in his garden and others farther afield—and examines what humans might have been able to see if our night vision had evolved.
The ongoing project also explores the possibilities of color manipulation. After photographing the plants, Leighton digitally strips back their characteristic greenish hues, using dreamy fluorescent colors to represent the photosynthesis process. He tells Colossal:
Plants are incredible stores of energy. They grow towards anything which provides for them: nutrition, the moisture, the light, then they absorb, contain, and convert…The colours I have used in this series represent the light absorbed within the structure of the plants and its conversion to energy. Sometimes one small colour choice or different crop unlocks the potential of the image.
Leighton previously photographed Hong Kong and Tokyo, but COVID-19 shifted his work closer to home where he began documenting everyday greenery, focusing on their textures and details. “Many of the plants are quite common, and it was more about elevating and accentuating a complexity, which can so often be overlooked,” he says.
In addition to Variegation II, Leighton is also working on a series named Kynance, which explores the geological history of one of Cornwall’s most dynamic coastlines. To view more of his work, visit his website and Behance. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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