Breathtaking Beauty of Glaciers Illuminated by LED Drones at Night

Glacier Photos by Reuben Wu

Photographer Reuben Wu fuses landscape photography with fine art sensibilities to capture earthly scenes that have an otherworldly feel. Using powerful LED lights mounted on a drone, he selectively illuminated Pastoruri, one of the few glaciers left in the tropical parts of South America. His photographs were shot at night and showcase the blue glacial ice surrounded by sinuous black rock, all against a backdrop of the clear night sky.

The pictures are part of Wu’s ongoing series called Lux Noctis, in which he has photographed other desolate landscapes in a similar way—although the climate conditions were completely different. In earlier iterations of Lux Noctis, Wu trekked into the pitch-black desert at night to spotlight rock formations in the western part of the United States; he later extended the project by using light to “paint” over similar natural structures.

Wu has titled his glacier project Terminus, and it marks one of his most ambitious (and demanding) endeavors yet. “At 17,000ft [5,250m], it was a physical challenge to reach the glacier,” he explained, “compounded by the fact that I was shooting at night and under freezing conditions.” The extreme weather caused him to lose sensation in his fingers and reduced the battery life of his camera and drone.

Despite the frigid weather that Wu experienced, the Pastoruri glacier is in danger because it’s too warm. “This glacier is receding at a shocking rate due to climate change and as a result, there has been a huge drop in tourism and an impact on the local community,” he said. “With this series, I felt like this was an attempt to document an endangered landscape which may not exist in a decade.”

As Wu began Terminus, he was unsure of how he would feel while photographing it; he felt conflicted. “I wanted to show evidence of its alarming retreat, yet I was drawn to the epic scale of the ice which remained,” he recalled. “In the end, I leaned towards the latter, but each photograph represents a bleak reality, a fading memory of what once stood.”

Photographer Reuben Wu trekked to Pastoruri, one of the few glaciers left in the tropical parts of South America.

Glacier Photos by Reuben Wu

Using a drone mounted with powerful LED lighting, he captured otherworldly glacier photos.

Glacier Photos by Reuben Wu

Glacier Photos by Reuben Wu

Drone Photos by Reuben Wu

Drone Photos by Reuben Wu

For this project, Wu was sponsored by Coors Lite, and it was documented in a fascinating video by Great Big Story:

Reuben Wu: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Behance

My Modern Met granted permission to use images by Reuben Wu.

Related Articles:

10 Astrophotographers Capturing the Awe-Inspiring Wonders of the Galaxy

10 Aerial Photographers Reveal How They Capture the World from Above

Aerial Photos of Surprisingly Colorful Salt Ponds Look Like Abstract Paintings

SkyPixel Photo Contest Announces the Best Aerial Photography of 2017

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