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Tom Leighton’s “Variegation II” Series: Nighttime Photos of Foliage with Stunning Fluorescent Colors

All images © Tom Leighton, shared with permission

Have you ever seen photos of plants that look like they’re from another world? Well, that’s because they are! Tom Leighton took these photos as part of his Variegation II series. In this series, Leighton focuses on plants from Cornwall, some of which he grows in his garden and others farther afield. He examines what humans might have been able to see if our night vision had evolved.
The project’s future phases will continue to develop the techniques used in this stage. The possibilities of color manipulation are also explored throughout the process. Leighton removes the plants’ typical greenish hues from their photos, using dreamy fluorescent colors to represent photosynthesis, after capturing them.
The photographer tells us:

Plants are energy-dense. They grow towards anything that feeds them: nutrition, water, light, and then absorb, store, and transform it… The colors I’ve utilized in this series represent the light absorbed by the plant structure and subsequently converted to energy. Sometimes a little color choice or different crop opens up the potential of an image.

Leighton previously shot Hong Kong and Tokyo, but COVID-19 prompted him to focus his efforts closer to home, where he began capturing natural vegetation’s textures and intricacies. “Many of the plants are quite typical, and it was more about enhancing and accentuating a complexity that is frequently overlooked,” he adds.
Leighton is also presently working on a series named Kynance, which chronicles the geologic history of one of Cornwall’s most unique coastlines. Visit his website and Behance to see more of his work.