All photos by Tom Leighton. Used with Creative Commons permission.
We’ve had a fair number of impressive photography projects that portray certain locations as alien landscapes, made either through landscape photography or aerial photography. We’re glad to add one more to the pile: a surreal series depicting Nevada as an alien desert expanse. Tom Leighton, who we previously featured for his minimalist abstract series on contrails, has made a dramatic shift to a rusty red color scheme for this body of work. Whether you’re into aerial photography or photographing landscapes in more surreal styles, this project will surely inspire you.
Leighton’s NEVADA series joins our current favorite works that explore the alien landscape concept: Marco Grassi’s Space Oddity, Dillon Marsh’s Contours, Stefano Gardel’s Neon Deserts, Andreas Levers’ Floaters, and Reuben Wu’s Lux Noctis. To shoot this series, he hopped aboard a helicopter which flew him above the stunning stretch of Nevada’s desert wilderness. Here, he showcases the lines, shapes, and textures formed by the natural terrain, as well as the dirt roads that snake across the barren landscape.
To complement the otherworldly expanse, Leighton used strong rust-red color grading and “really pushed the artistic license with this series” as he mentioned in his Behance page. This effectively made the series even more eye-catching and alien-like. It’s certainly reminiscent of Martian landscape, but those that show canyons are also close to many artistic rendering of Saturn’s moon, Titan. That said, this treatment makes it easy to forget about the Nevada label for a moment and look at the series as our featured photographer intended us to: imagining what it would be like to cruise above a distant world that is both strange and familiar at once.