Photographer captures stunning time-lapses of northern lights over Whistler

Time-lapse of northern lights

If witnessing the northern lights dancing over Whistler is one bucket-list item you've yet to cross off, you're not alone. 

Thanks to a new video from renowned photographer and former Whistler local David McColm, night-sky watchers can now get a clear idea of what that might look that from the comfort of their couch

As McColm explains in Whistler Aurora 4K's description, the dazzling five-minute-and-39-second video posted to YouTube earlier this week "represents a selection of the approximately one hundred aurora time lapse clips" he's shot between Garibaldi Provincial Park to the south, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park to the north and Rainbow Mountain and Sproatt Peak to the west since 2012. 

"That said, the vast majority of the clips were captured in Whistler, from the valley bottom to the surrounding peaks of Whistler [and] Blackcomb Mountains," he adds. 

The footage shows the glowing green, pink and purple hues flickering over the Whistler valley, with its lakes and rocky, snow-covered peaks playing a starring role. Throughout the videos, the Milky Way, rolling clouds, lit-up orange tents, chairlifts and even Whistler Blackcomb's lit-up overnight groomers make appearances. The footage brings many of McColm's iconic photographs— which locals might recognize from previous photography exhibits, or his puzzles or postcards sold around town— to life. It's far from McColm's first foray into time-lapse work, following short films like Deep Sky and Dusk to Dawn. The photographer is now based in Ucluelet, moving to Vancouver Island in 2020 after 27 years spent living in Whistler. 

Because strong northern lights displays over Whistler are relatively rare, McColm describes capturing the clips as "a labour of love." 

He adds, "I would on occasion go weeks and even months without seeing or capturing any aurora footage. BUT, on the rare occasion when it came out in a 'big way', man it was all worth the many nights when I'd head out into the night and see nothing, except of course for sometimes a deep dark beautiful starry night!"

The original music for this film was composed and created by Whistler local John Frame of Mahbell Music, McColm writes.  

The photographer said the majority of his time-lapse clips featured in Whistler Aurora 4K were originally shot as individual photos using Nikon D3S, D750, D850, or D4S camera bodies and Nikon 14-24 f/2.8, Nikon 20mm f/1.8, Nikon 50mm f/1.8, or Rokinon 12mm f/2. lenses.

Either McColm or Frame can be contacted for licensing inquiries for the footage or music. 

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