Bane of the Great Lakes. This past fall, I was drawn to Lake Erie near my hometown of London, Ontario, Canada. I chose to focus on Erie at a time of year (mid-October through December) when the Great Lakes can act more like oceans than lakes. With the warm sunny beach days behind me, I found how some of autumn's dark, cold and windy days transform the Great Lakes into wickedly wild and treacherous bodies of water. Over the autumn months, for 2-3 days a week, sometimes 6 hours a day, I did the 45 minute drive to Lake Erie to capture these majestic waves and the harsh but beautiful face of Mother Nature. © Dave Sandford. Finalist, Magnum Photography Award 2016.
Lake Erie Monster. Shot about 500'-600' off-shore from a small lakeside community called Port Stanley, Ontario. Daily temperatures ranged from -2 up to 14 degrees celsius. I sustained wind speeds of 45-50 km/h, occasionally gusting to 70-100+ km/h. The average water temperature was 11 celsius, and wave heights reached 25'. It is on days like these that most people stay away from the lake. But it is days like these when Erie comes alive, showing its true power. These are the days I can't wait to get to the lake and create my images. © Dave Sandford. Finalist, Magnum Photography Award 2016.
Lake of the Cat. Lake Erie's name originates from a native tribe who called the lake "Erige" ("cat") due to the unpredictable and at times dangerously violent nature. Because of the shallowness of the lake, conditions can change dramatically in just a matter of minutes, with fierce waves springing up unexpectedly. © Dave Sandford. Finalist, Magnum Photography Award 2016.
Liquid Mountain. When the violent wind storms of Lake Erie whip up, the lake becomes like a giant washing machine. There is no pattern, like the swell from ocean waves. These waves move in almost any and every direction. This makes being in them and photographing them very unpredictable. Masses of water moving toward one another meet up for a fraction of a second, just in time to create moments like this image. These last for but a blink of an eye...running almost 30' high. © Dave Sandford. Finalist, Magnum Photography Award 2016.
The Erie Wave. Lake Erie's unpredictable and violent nature has laid claim to many thousands of shipwrecks dating back to the 17th century. Most of these have never been found. I was fascinated with the stories passed down over the years of the shipwrecks, wanting to see for myself and to capture the massive waves responsible for so many watery graves. © Dave Sandford. Finalist, Magnum Photography Award 2016.
The Phonograph. At a point where the waves break just off the beaches of Port Stanley, Ontario—there is nowhere left to go but up. The water goes from a big drop-off, resulting in massive displays of water, shooting upwards of 25'-30'. There is nothing quite as exhilarating as staring down a massive wave while looking for the perfect frame, all the while knowing that you're going to pay the price by getting slammed into the shallow bottom when it breaks. © Dave Sandford. Finalist, Magnum Photography Award 2016.
The Punisher. When you are out shooting the waves, you are dealing with all of the immediate calamity and can't really appreciate what you are seeing. So, every day when I returned home, I was excited to download the frames and see what I had captured. © Dave Sandford. Finalist, Magnum Photography Award 2016.
The Sandstorm. I have had a number of people contact me about my work, including ship captains of 40 years, fishermen who spent their career on the Lakes, and those who grew up on the shores. All of them tell me the same thing: they thank me for capturing the raw, violent power that the lake displays. They now have proof to go with the stories they have told friends and family over the years. These images stir emotions in them and impact them deeply, helping them connect with a lake they know and feel so closely tied to. It makes me proud to know my work connects with others and makes all those times that I got up at 4:30 AM to freeze myself in the harsh elements for 6-8 hours worth every moment. © Dave Sandford. Finalist, Magnum Photography Award 2016.
The Gales of November. When you are on the lake, you don't have the luxury of a studio setting . You can't set something up and have multiple opportunities to capture it—it's one and done. If you have seen it happen with your own eyes, you have missed the moment. It's gone, never to be repeated again. While waves may look similar, no two are ever the same. No moment can ever be recreated again. When the water is moving around thanks to level-one hurricane-status winds, you have no second chances. I pride myself on being able to read the movement of the water and I feel I connect with it in a way most don't. I feel as if I am one with it. This helps me anticipate what is coming and gives me the power to freeze reality forever. © Dave Sandford. Finalist, Magnum Photography Award 2016.
The Witch of November. Ocean and lakes beckon me. Since I was a kid, I've loved to be on, in or around water. I'm fascinated by the sheer raw power and force of it, captivated by the graceful movement of a wave and mesmerized by light dancing across it. © Dave Sandford. Finalist, Magnum Photography Award 2016.