Antu from Above: A familiar yet strange world

With the successful conclusion of the 2018 Global Photography “Sente Antu Cup” International Photo Contest Award Ceremony, ten photographers and their stunning works were crowned winners. Among them, the only aerial photography "Antu Landscape" attracted many viewers' attention. The author, Wu Xiuxia, came all the way from Guangdong to the foot of Changbai Mountain for the fascinating ice and snow world. Although being a stranger there and having to brave the freezing conditions at minus 40 degrees, she made several trips to the deep mountains, and framed Antu, the mountain town, in quite a distinctive perspective with her drone, which is both familiar and unfamiliar to us.


© Wu Xiuxia

Antu, through the lens of Wu Xiuxia, is a snow wrapped world, with the mountains folded in the mist. The snow and the mist are intertwined, outlining an imaginary world, like heaven on earth.


Wu Xiuxia attends the awards ceremony and wins 100,000 CNY and the title of "Top Ten Photographers of the World".

GP: What attracts you to Antu?

Wu Xiuxia: It’s the passionate maple leaves; it’s the mysterious and romantic snow and ice world. As is known that many people from the south of China have never seen snow in their lifetime, and they are incomparably fascinated by the holy world of ice and snow, so I came to have a look at the fantastic snow world, then I found the place was like a fairyland covered with snow with lingering fog which made me deeply intoxicated. As a photographer, I have the responsibility to pass on the real feelings about this place to more people through my works.


© Wu Xiuxia

GP: Why do you choose aerial photography and monochrome?

Wu Xiuxia: The use of drone is to show Antu in a distinctive and fresh perspective. And monochrome images allow me to get rid of the interference of colors, and discover details in the overwhelming white snow.

This series only shows Antu in winter, and I have an ongoing series of Antu in autumn that has not yet been completed. I hope that through my work, I will appeal to more people to protect nature, and make Antu a famous tourist attraction.


© Wu Xiuxia

GP: When did you start aerial photography?

Wu Xiuxia: I met with a group of passionate aerial photographers from Shantou Aircraft Model Association. Since its establishment 18 years ago, the association has a group of skilled and capable pilots. As early as 2012 when the drones were not officially launched, I started to learn from the teachers of the association to attach cameras on gliders or helicopters and cast a view above the ground. I was quite excited about the collected images even with poor qualities.

At the beginning of 2013, with the launch of the world's first aerial camera, DJI PHANTOM 1, more photographers who love aerial photography saw hope, and I also had my first aerial camera at that time. With the help of the teachers of the association, I modified my first drone machine and mounted a micro-camera to get sharper photos. I also abandoned the pan/tilt, landing gear, camera casing and battery to ensure the safe flight of the drone. By then, my journey of aerial photography officially started.

© Wu Xiuxia

GP: What aspects of aerial photography have attracted you?

Wu Xiuxia: What attracts me most is to be able to hover in any space to take photos. I can manipulate it to sneak into the bottom of the valley, float on the surface of the water, or let it fly over the hills in the no-man's land, and go through the streets and lanes. Its flexibility, efficiency and convenience are the most attractive for me.


© Wu Xiuxia

GP: What do you think are the features and difficulties of aerial photography?

Wu Xiuxia: The feature is that it’s very easy for beginners to get started, and the difficulty is the same. Many people tend to manipulate it as long as they have access to the drones without learning about the basic knowledge, which brings many security risks. As a result, the management departments have been imposing no-flight zones on drone photographers, making it even harder for us to take photos.

© Wu Xiuxia

GP: What are the similarities and differences between a drone and a SLR camera?

Wu Xiuxia: Aerial drones and SLR cameras are both photographic equipment, which are to serve for photographers. The drones have advantages in flexibility and distinctive angles, but they are inferior to the professional SLR cameras in terms of pixels, focal lengths and sensitivity. Therefore, in the art creation, the two can be combined and appropriately taken.

© Wu Xiuxia

GP: How to incorporate the photographer's personal style into the photos?

Wu Xiuxia: To practice until you are quite skilled in using the drones and they are able to live up to your imaginations.