There's a reason your Instagram feed features more images of brunch than photos of the night sky.
Between schlepping heavy photography gear to remote mountain locations in the dark and waiting—sometimes in vain—for stars, the milky way or northern lights to appear, it turns out capturing those images is hard work.
"It's more about the commitment and desire to experience something different. There are times when I wish it wasn't my thing because it can get exhausting," says David McColm, a well-known Whistler photographer, with a laugh. "It's not good for your health. But I'm not complaining. I wouldn't change anything about it. Sometimes from challenge comes something rewarding."
McColm's work will be featured alongside five other local photographers in a new exhibit at The Gallery called Dusk 'till Dawn starting on July 20 and running until Aug. 26. They include Mason Mashon, Eric Poulin, Jeremy Allen, Andrew Strain and Nathan Starzynski.
"In the last few weeks probably every one of these photographers has been out shooting something at night, including myself," says McColm.
"Many times the conditions don't cooperate and you don't get the kind of shot you want. The weather changes, the clouds come in. In the last few weeks I can think of three nights I tried to get a different shot and it didn't work. But every once in a while it does and that's what keeps you coming back."
The show will feature not only the night sky, but also the unique time right before nightfall all the way to sunrise. Most of the photos will be from locations in the Sea to Sky corridor that span—as the exhibit title suggests—from dusk until dawn.
"We all take a slightly different approach," McColm says. "(My photos) will be on metal, others will be on different mediums—paper or canvas. There will be quite a variety. Each person will bring their own interpretation and own thinking about art and translating their image to a medium and putting it on the wall."
While the night sky might present myriad logistical challenges, both dawn and dusk offer unique photo opportunities too, he adds. "Sometimes you want to have that last 30 minutes of sunlight. You want it to be caressing the peaks of the mountains and get that last brightness on them. There's something special about that—or the last light on the clouds. But as soon as the sun actually sets there can be 20 minutes of additional sunset light. That magic light can happen when the clouds might turn red in the right conditions. And you get into the blue hour before it gets really dark after sunset when there's a blueness to the light that's pretty magical on its own," he says.
While he's seen the other photographers' work online before, McColm says he's looking forward to seeing it all together on the gallery's walls.
"I'm stoked just to be part of this because I think there's going to be some cool images from these guys," he says.
Aside from the talent that will be on display there are several other Whistler photographers similarly capturing the night sky, he adds. "Even though it's the six of us doing (the exhibit), there are a bunch more people shooting some really cool things at night too ... We've got some younger people, people who have been around the valley for a long time, so you have different thoughts and perspectives about what it's like to be out in the night," he says.
While hiking alone in the pitch black with a headlamp into the wilderness might present unique challenges, McColm says his passion for the outdoors fuels his work. "Whistler has so many cool places to be out doing this," he says. "I wish I had another 60 years of doing this because there are so many more places I'd love to go and spend the night."
Catch Dusk 'till Dawn at The Gallery at the Maury Young Arts Centre running from July 20 to Aug. 26 with an opening party set for Aug. 2 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.