During a break from making music several years ago, “the ritual and the technique of photographing” became all-encompassing, he explained. “The band took kind of a back seat.”
Today, his process still employs experimentation—most recently with drones. The revelation of using external light sources came when a pair of unexpected headlights illuminated the Trona Pinnacles, a striking geological formation in the Californian desert, at the darkest time of night.
NASA’s rover images of lunar landscapes have also informed Wu’s drone-lit formations. The abstract footage, disembodied and decontextualized by inky-black backdrops, he said, present a “jarring combination of science and technology…with the aesthetic of the sublime.”
To achieve a similar effect, Wu maps his compositions by day and waits for civil twilight, when soft tones still color the sky (roughly two hours post-sunset). His typical three-second exposures vary—longer if the drones are farther from the camera—and he uses various shutter speeds to create apparitional shapes above mountain peaks or in the sky.