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ONE GREAT LAKE

After the gales of November blew in, London photographer Dave Sandford, spent hours shooting pictures of Lake Erie

By Debora Van Brenk, The London Free Press

This is Lake Erie as you’ve never seen it.

Majestic, roiling, angry, exquisite.

Eight-metre waves rising like leviathans under a red sky. Wind-sculpted liquid mountains crashing into a furious maelstrom.

The images shot by London photographer Dave Sandford are literally making waves internationally.

Sandford makes a living in pro sports photography but his passion has always been the water.

When the fabled gales of November arrived this year, bringing wind gusts of 70 km/h, he drove down to Port Stanley, climbed into his wetsuit and started shooting.

For a month, as often as three times a week for six hours at a time, he captured what he calls the lake’s “amazingly violent displays of beauty.”

Sandford posted some of them a week ago on his Instagram account and on boredpanda.com.

In just a week, the images drew 438,000 viewers on boredpanda and countless thousands more who liked them on Facebook or shared them on other social media sites.

He has fielded media questions and reprint requests from across Europe, Australia and North America.

A rock band in Uruguay wants to use one of the photos on its next album.

“I think a lot of people are just mesmerized by the fact that this is happening on a lake and not in an ocean.”

Sandford has captured Stanley Cup game-winning goals, Olympic ski jumpers in flight and NBA players in mid-dunk.

But shooting the water was a return to nature photography, the reason he fell in love with the art after he received his first camera when he was nine.

“Nature never ceases to amaze me. I think it’s the most wonderfully amazing thing . . .

“My earliest memories have always been lakes and oceans. I’ve always been around them.”

Erie’s storms have claimed more ships than any other Great Lake, and Sandford’s photography captures their power.

During his full-immersion photo sessions, the waves generated by wind were three metres high. But when they rebounded off the Port Stanley pier or were multiplied by an undertow near shore, some grew into eight-metre-high monsters.

For some sessions, he was in the water; at other times, the conditions were too treacherous and he shot from shore.

Sandford said he holds conversations with the lake and thanks it when he knows it has shown him something special.

“I speak to the lake and I speak to the ocean a lot. I just feel it gives me a better connection. Often I would shake my head in awe and say to the lake, ‘You did not just do that.’”

He has received such overwhelming response, he hasn’t been able to answer a fraction of requests for reprints and interviews.

“I definitely dreamed and hoped that my photography would gain exposure like this . . . but it’s been bigger than I ever could have imagined.”

deb.vanbrenk@sunmedia.ca

ABOUT DAVE SANDFORD

  • Lives in London
  • Attended John Paul II secondary school in London and graduated from Ryerson University with bachelor of applied arts degree.
  • Photography passion began when his father suggested he should shoot animals with a camera, not with a gun.
  • Career highlights include shooting multiple sports during two Olympic Games; NHL, IIHF and junior hockey; Major League Baseball; Rogers Cup tennis; pro golf; NBA; pro car racing; wakeboard world series; and Sports Illustrated photo of the year, 2000.

TOO SEE MORE

Instagram: sandfordpix

Twitter: Dave_Sandford

Website: davesandfordphotos.com

Facebook: Sandford-Photography