Photographer Uses Drone Lighting to Make Earth Look Like a Distant Planet

Long Exposure Photography

Photographer Reuben Wu continually finds new ways to make the natural landscape look like it’s out of this world. Thanks to his creative use of lighting and aerial views via drone, rock formations take on a beguiling quality as the land is tinted in hues like reds and pinks and the skies an orange ochre. In addition to the tints cast on the environment, Wu uses long-exposure photography (and later photo composites) as a way to “draw” different motifs in the sky using light paths. The results are breathtaking and a bit surreal. Although we recognize them as places on Earth, the unnatural lighting and hovering symbols can feel like an alien planet.

Through his photographs, Wu wants us to question the disorientation that we may feel when looking at them. His work straddles the line between nature documentation and art. As the gentle peaks of desert hills are spotlighted with a floating halo or the chiseled formations are cloaked in blue, we’re left with alternative ways to think about the landscape. And in doing so, we find new things to admire about the Earth, and it implores us to protect the planet—particularly from the adverse effects of further climate change—before it’s too late.

Scroll down to see some of Wu’s latest works. And because many of his pieces are composite photos, he shares their development in illuminating videos posted on his Instagram. Check some of those out, below.

Photographer Reuben Wu creates light painting photography with the help of long exposures and drones.

Long Exposure Photography Long Exposure Photography Long Exposure Photography

Often, he'll create unnatural lighting or beguiling spotlights with drones.

Long Exposure Photography Long Exposure Photography Long Exposure Photography Light Painting Photography Light Painting Photography Light Painting Photography

He offers peeks into his process on his popular Instagram account.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Reuben Wu (@itsreuben) on


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Reuben Wu (@itsreuben) on

Reuben Wu: Website | Instagram | Facebook

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

Related Articles:

Photographer Attaches LED to Drone for Hauntingly Beautiful Photos at Night

Long Exposure Photos Capture Drones “Painting” Light Halos Over Mountains

Breathtaking Beauty of Glaciers Illuminated by LED Drones at Night

Long Exposure Photos Capture the Motions of Kayakers and Canoers Through Light and Color

Long-Exposure Photos Turn Rock Climbing Routes Into Epic Rainbow Bursts Across the Landscape

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.

Sponsored Content