Photographing Liquid Mountains | That’s Amazing

Photographing Liquid Mountains | That’s Amazing

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(dramatic music) (waves crashing) – [Narrator] When you
think of the Great Lakes, you may not expect this. These photographs of
magnificent towering waves weren’t taken in the
Pacific or the Atlantic. They were taken at Lake Erie. – The thing that I find
amazes a lot of people that are familiar with them
is the sheer size of them. I’ve been with lots of people
that, for the first time when they’re seeing them, they’re like, “Really, this isn’t an ocean?” – [Narrator] Dave Sandford is
a professional photographer from Ontario, Canada. To do his work, Sandford
waits for the perfect weather conditions, heading
out into fierce winds and ice cold water to
make his masterpieces. (waves crashing) (upbeat music) – Lake Erie is in the most
southern part of Ontario. It’s the smallest of the Great Lakes. As far as the depth goes,
it’s the shallowest by far. – Being a large lake,
but relatively shallow compared to the other Great Lakes, creates unique wave conditions. The waves on Lake Erie
tend to be closer together with a lot more of the violence
on the white water on top. – There’s a lot of people that have lost their lives on Lake Erie. There’s been estimated
somewhere over 8,000 shipwrecks on Lake Erie over the years. – At her worst, Lake
Erie can be murderous. In fact when she’s murderous,
we call her a widow maker. – To be a nature
photographer, I think that one of the number one things you
have to have is patience. The first wave photo that
I posted from Lake Erie I came home that night
and I posted an image and right away the
number of comments on it, it was crazy compared to
what I normally would get, and the number of ‘likes.’ (laughs) If I know I’m going in the
water, it starts from like the moment I wake up in the morning. There’s a lot of mental preparation. There is an adrenaline rush too, for sure. Like I’ve no idea how
things are going to unfold. It’s before the sun’s even coming up, and you can see the water in the distance and those waves exploding into the air, and it’s just such a cool rush. The window of opportunity to
photograph the lakes for me is generally from maybe
mid-October through early December. It’s the best time of the
year when you still have that warm air masses that
are around this region and then those cold air masses
that are coming from up north that give you these
really prime conditions. Obviously weather changes
and it’s constantly changing. The biggest factor is wind
speed and wind direction. A southwest wind is the
best, and minimal wind speeds I’m usually looking at
around 30 miles an hour at the bare minimum. At the high end of it,
you’re actually getting into category one hurricane level
winds over 70 miles an hour. It’s a crazy mass of water
and that’s when you’re getting these waves that are upwards of 30 feet. The tough thing about
lake waves is it’s not like ocean waves where
you have sets that come in and then there’s a bit of a lull. Lake waves are constantly pounding. You know you virtually
have like two seconds, 2 1/2 seconds, between each wave, and where I’m at, it’s more
like a giant washing machine. It’s not easy. You’re kinda cold after a while too. That water is only around
the 50 degree mark. There’s days where
there’s ice in the water and you’re literally you’re
like, what am I doing? (laughs) Water is very powerful,
it’s very deceiving, and you have to have great respect for it. You can get pulled under and
pulled out with a rip current. It’s obviously a lot
stronger than you are. You have to know your limitations
and know when to say when. The waves that are generated
from this refraction off the pier, those are the
waves that I’m photographing where you have two masses
of water, two waves, that are moving in opposite
directions that are meeting and colliding and they actually,
they’ll hit and they twist and they turn and it’s a
phenomenal thing to see. It’s just building this
massive liquid mountain that literally lasts all of
like a second, if that, you know. Sometimes it’s a fraction
of a moment in time, and that’s one of the things
that I love is the challenge of capturing that moment. – [Narrator] Dave Sandford’s
Liquid Mountain Photographs have appeared in several
online publications including The Washington Post. He also sells prints on his website. – I guess one of the things
that I really hope is that my photos can allow
people to appreciate what they have as far as nature
goes and learn to love it and cherish it and
embrace it and protect it. (dramatic music)

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