Wave Chasing Photography

Canadian photographer Dave Sanford spends lots of time waiting for the right weather to capture images of massive waves on Lake Erie. In the South of Ontario, Lake Erie is a large lake but rather shallow compared to other well known lakes. This shallowness helps create the big waves:

Sanford goes into each expedition without knowing what will happen. The adrenaline that comes with it stems from the danger involved and the unpredictable nature of the waves. His stated minimum for wind speeds is 30 miles per hour. He’s done work in Category 1 hurricane winds which reach about 70 miles per hou, creating waves upwards of 30 feet tall!

The difference between ocean and lake waves is the frequency. Ocean waves have lulls between them. On the other hand, lake waves are constantly incoming and push against you while you’re in the water. Understanding your limitations and not pushing it too far is important, especially in a body of water, like Lake Erie, that has claimed lives.

exposure aperture shutter speed

One location Sanford like to photograph is near the pier. Waves come from opposite directions and crash into one another. The result shows twisting and turning as each waves pushes against the other. This creates the ‘liquid mountains’ shown in his work. He has only a split second to capture it before the water collapses and returns to normal. Do you think photography like this would interest you enough to dive into the waves and try it? You’ll likely need some different equipment first!

camera equipment gear photographing waves

“Where I’m at, it’s more like a giant washing machine; it’s not easy.”

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