Awe-Inspiring “Alien” Light Beams at Stonehenge Created With Drones

Stonehenge by Reuben Wu

Photographer Reuben Wu is known for his Lux Noctis project, in which powerful lights attached to drones illuminate the landscape. In 2021, National Geographic called upon him to use his skills for its August 2022 cover. But it wasn't just any landscape that they asked him to photograph; it was the iconic Stonehenge. And recently, Wu remembered his time on-site when he posted an otherworldly outtake from the shoot on Threads.

Wu's challenge was to take one of the most photographed monuments in the world and present it in an unexpected manner. “Because of this familiarity, the perceived image of Stonehenge had always become a little unremarkable over the years,” Wu shares. “This project presented the perfect opportunity to show the monument in an extraordinary way.”

By using his drone to shine light on the monument from specific angles, Wu was able to conjure up the mystery and magic of the site in a way that speaks to its powerful ancient history. However, getting the shots that he was after was not easy.

“There was a lot of red tape in order to gain permission to fly a drone at night in a very protected national heritage site,” Wu recalls. “Not only that, but Stonehenge is located inside military airspace so we needed to present our project to the Royal Air Force as well. My drone pilot / digital tech Zac Henderson also had to pass his UK pilot exam to clear him for flight operations.”

While Henderson and Wu were not allowed to fly their drones directly above the stones, due to concerns about potential damage, they were still able to come away with some spectacular images. Though the final images used in National Geographic were more conservative, Wu's outtake shows just how incredible Stonehenge looks with light behind it.

The legend of Stonehenge is always awash with theories about extraterrestrials. Some people believe that aliens built the stone structure, while others just think that it's a good landing spot for UFOs.

Wu's photo plays with these concepts, as one can almost imagine a UFO hovering above the frame, shooting down a beam of light.

Reuben Wu recently reminisced about his time photographing Stonehenge for National Geographic.


Post by @reuben
View on Threads


Here's a look at the final cover and some images from the cover story.

Stonehenge National Geographic Cover by Reuben Wu

Photo: Reuben Wu/National Geographic

Stonehenge by Reuben Wu

Photo: Reuben Wu/National Geographic

Stonehenge by Reuben Wu

Photo: Reuben Wu/National Geographic

Reuben Wu: Website | Instagram | Facebook

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

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer 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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