Photographer Uses LEDs on Drones to “Draw” Light Paths on the World’s Largest Salt Flats

Salt Flats of Bolivia at Night by Reuben Wu

Photographer Reuben Wu is known for his artistic landscape imagery, which he creates by using LED lights attached to a drone. By taking long-exposure photographs, Wu is able to have complete control over how we perceive light within the environment. His newest work even incorporates light painting for an even more surreal effect. For his latest adventure, he traveled to Bolivia and ventured high into the Andes in order to visit the world's largest salt flat—Salar de Uyuni. The resulting photographs combine all of Wu's stylistic developments into a breathtaking portfolio.

In some imagery, Wu focuses solely on the landscape and keeps his light source invisible. In this call back to his early Lux Noctis work, the focus is firmly on the environment. However, some of the most striking visuals come when Wu creates his Aeroglyphs. In these photographs, the protagonist is the light itself. By placing these painted, geometric shapes into the expansive landscape, Wu creates an air of mystery and wonder.

Traveling to Bolivia and, specifically, Salar de Uyuni, was a dream come true for the photographer. Constantly seeking out new, interesting landscapes to include in his fine art photography, there was no better setting than the expansive salt flats. “I was initially drawn to the Salar de Uyuni because of its incredible salt polygon textures and the mirror-like flooded expanses,” Wu tells My Modern Met. “They are two very different sides to the same place, and I was very lucky to witness both.”

While shooting at such high altitudes presented a challenge (particularly at night when temperatures dropped drastically), Wu pushed through any physical discomfort to execute his vision. The resulting high quality of the photographs can also be attributed to the equipment used, as Wu worked on the Bolivia series with high-end digital photography company Phase One. By using their XT Camera System, he was able to take high-quality images that he could easily print in a large-scale format.

Wu's solo show Aeroglyphs and Other Nocturnes is currently on view at Photo-eye Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico until November 16, 2019. The accompanying catalog is also available for sale online.

Reuben Wu traveled to the Salar de Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia for his newest set of artistic drone imagery.

Drone Photography by Reuben Wu

Lux Noctis by Reuben Wu

Salt Flats of Bolivia at Night by Reuben Wu

Photos of Bolivia by Reuben Wu

Photos of Bolivia by Reuben Wu

Taking advantage of the unique setting, Wu experimented with light painting and long-exposure night photography.

Light Painting by Reuben Wu

Light Painting by Reuben Wu

Long Exposure Photography by Reuben Wu

Long Exposure Photography by Reuben Wu

Reuben Wu: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Behance

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Reuben Wu.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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