Thanks to digital technology, we are now discovering a whole new world of natural beauty at the microscopic and molecular levels, and most of these images could not have been created without digital technology, nor reproduced without the modern miracles of digital communication and printing.
But in the end, technology only opens the door. It is for those with the eyes to see beauty, which Richard Weston most certainly did in the early years spending over 4,000 hours and £80,000 creating the original mineral collection - and there are few short cuts, even today!
The problem is that what is seen by the naked eye, or even through a magnifying glass, is not necessarily what will be seen through the highly magnified scanners (not cameras) that we use. Sometimes a beautiful mineral sample is found to have surface or interior flaws which ruin it for our purposes - yet sometimes the most uninspiring minerals deliver the most inspiring images. Tourmaline, for example, superficially resembles a piece of coal (see right), yet - after trying many angles of attack - Richard's efforts yielded two fascinating images that he has been unable to equal since (one on the right).
Recently, we have been developing a large database of naturally sourced images, and have well over 10,000 high resolution images including trees, plants, animals and historic buildings as well as licensing rights to images ranging from dinosaurs to Ford car paints, and Darwin's Gallapagos Collection to alcoholic drinks.
What unites them is the file size. As you know, a digital camera will typically produce a 5 to 20MB image, yet our images range from 50MB to 5GB - over 1,000 times larger - meaning that we can print a single image 50 metres long, and it will not pixilate.
We are committed to producing beautiful images that can be applied in so many different and distinctive ways that delight and inspire - and we think these application opportunities fall into six broad categories:
graphic design: stunning images for everything from packaging to greetings cards, websites to brochure designs.
fashion accessories: from ready-to-wear clothing to handbag trims and jacket linings.
tech and gifts: "natural design" provides a whole new twist to smaller products that need to make a powerful and positive impact.
interior design: the potential applications seem almost unlimited, and include ceramic tiles, wallpaper, lampshades, cushions and glassware to name but a few.
architecture: the huge file sizes enable our images to scale up to house and skyscraper size, an dthe award winning Camden Town house and the Olympic Village rersidential blocks are good examples of that.
industrial design: nature is a great designer, and natural images can often complement event the most man-made and contemporary products.
But you're the best judge of how to apply them, so we will leave that to you!