Lonely Planet Writer

See ethereal lights dancing around rugged mountain ranges

Modern camera technology has allowed creative photographers to show the world in a number of exciting and unique new ways. One such example is the work of Reuben Wu, who uses specialised lighting rigs strapped to drones to create otherworldly, long-exposure images of ethereal glowing trails passing over rugged mountain ranges.

Reuben uses drones with specialised lighting rigs to illuminate mountain ranges at night. Image by Reuben Wu

Called Lux Noctis II, the project mixes a number of Reuben’s different interests together in a distinctive way. “It was a logical combination of lighting and drone technology, but the inspiration really was to depict landscapes in a new way, so viewers have a renewed perspective of our own planet. It’s also influenced by ideas of planetary exploration, 19th century sublime romantic painting and science fiction,” Reuben told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Reuben's work marries together his interests in photography, painting and science fiction.
Reuben’s work marries together his interests in photography, painting and science fiction. Image by Reuben Wu

When preparing for a shoot, Reuben researches locations, spending hours looking at maps, moon cycles, and tourist traffic at different spots, while paying close attention to the best times to shoot according to each season. When a location is chosen, he lays down GPS markers and waits until the sun has gone down before he starts shooting. His gear is portable, allowing him to hike to each location, and he only chooses places that are extremely remote and removed from passers-by. On a recent trip, one shot accidentally caught the final burn of Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy as it exited the Earth’s atmosphere.

Each shoot requires careful planning, as each location chosen is extremely remote. Image by Reuben Wu

Reuben said that he also has an interest in raising awareness for the preservation and protection of nature with his work. In some of the images, the drone is used to light the mountain ranges, showing vibrant colour and texture, while in others, the light source is included as one long trail.

Some photos see Reuben using the lighting rig to illuminate the faces of the mountain ranges. Image by Reuben Wu

“Travel and technology are intrinsic to the work I do. I travelled the world while touring with my band Ladytron and it was that which first allowed me to see a lot of the world with my camera. For this project though, it really is about my solitary experience in the remote environment,” Reuben said.

More of Reuben’s work is available at his official website as well as on his Instagram.