“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.
Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. You’ll connect with a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, read articles and newsletters ad-free, sustain our interview series, get discounts and early access to our limited-edition print releases, and much more. Join now!