Terrestrial features and formations re-imagined as alien landscapes have been growing in popularity in the recent years, and I’m sure I’m not the only one enjoying it. It’s a source of inspiration for anyone looking to practice creative color manipulation, and a prompt for photographers who want to see and present familiar things differently.

The latest I’ve added to my favorite projects is a surreal depiction of Kynance Cove by Tom Leighton.

The London-based artist, photographer and printmaker typically photographs cityscapes, architecture and urban patterns, so “Kynance” is an interesting change. Colors and textures take center stage in this body of work, as with the rest of his projects.

However, if his futuristic urban imagery encourages us to reconsider our cities, this collection of landscapes invites us to look beyond the world we’ve always known.

Inspired by geological power

Kynance Cove in Cornwall, England is already an exceptional landscape on its own, as Tom has noted in his powerful introduction to this series. Shaped from the Earth’s crust hundreds of millions of years ago, the force that made the cove’s striking features also proved to be a potent source of inspiration.

“Created from a sequence of eruptions, the stacked cliffs and caves and tunnels of Kynance are an unusually dramatic testament to geological power: Layer upon layer of once molten crust and magma hurled though moving plates upward to the surface of the earth.”

No wonder the cove has long inspired awe from both artists and distinguished visitors alike. Tom’s work is one of many accolades dedicated to its powerful origins, but I’m sure it’s also among the most stunning. His color manipulation actually makes me feel like I’m looking at an alter-ego of the cove in a surreal parallel world.

Manifesting energy and beauty through color manipulation

I am always fascinated at how photographers like Tom make great use of color to instantly change something that we are familiar with. Through this series, he took the most striking features of the cove and painted them with otherworldly hues. These, of course, include the multicolored serpentine formations in the area.

“Rare also is some of the rock found in these structures, made up of the minerals thrown from the magma chambers — and exposed in places as a reptilian multicolored, scaly sheen which may give it the name Serpentine.”

While color manipulation may be a tricky subject to discuss for many photographers, this series is a testament to how powerful it can be with the right ideas and message. In the end, it opened my eyes to how the technique allowed Tom to create what he called, “a tribute to a sense of energy and intense beauty which you can experience in the cove even on the dullest day.”

Don’t forget to visit Tom Leighton’s website and Behance portfolio to see more of his work.

All photos by Tom Leighton. Used with Creative Commons permission.