These photographs of Lake Erie waves are a jaw-dropping reminder of just how dramatic and violent this inland sea can be.
Like all of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie is a fickle mistress. At times calm and beguiling, yet alternately vicious and unforgiving.
Lake Erie is a sportsman’s paradise, with waters that offer outstanding angling as well as plenty of pleasure boating opportunities. But when the “Gales of November” come calling, it’s time most sane humans stay inside or view the washing machine that Lake Erie becomes from the safety of their home windows.
Not Dave Sandford, however.
Sandford is a photographer who hails from London, Ontario, Canada, smack-dab in between Lakes Huron, Ontario, and Erie. He’s only around 30 miles from his autumn muse, Lake Erie, a lake that Sandford loves to photograph in the nastiest of weather.
Wind conditions on the lake can reach 50 to 70 mph and temperatures can dip to minus 20 degrees.
When the winds reach gale force and the mercury drops below zero, that’s Sandford’s cue to don his wetsuit, grab his camera gear and wade right into the mouth of the beast.
The photos that he is able to capture are inspiring – and not a little terrifying, when you consider where is when he clicks the shutter button.
Here are 12 pics that should give you an idea of the beautiful chaos that Lake Erie becomes when autumn and winter are at the doorstep.
The words accompanying each shot are Sandford’s and come from his Instagram account.
‘The Witch of November’ one of my signature images from my Lake Erie Liquid mountains series. The Great Lakes storm season is on the horizon.. and I’m getting more excited for it as each day passes. Looking so forward to creating new images in 70mph winds and -20 temperatures.
‘The Phonograph’ – Lake Erie. Yup in case you weren’t aware.. a lake that come autumn has the voice of a sea!
Yesterday- Lake Erie. . . When the gales of November come early.
Calm Like a Bomb – Lake Erie, Sunday Oct. 15, 2017.
This next photo wasn’t taken by Sandford, but rather is a pic of Sandford taken by a friend.
Yesterday I took my camera for a swim in Lake Erie off of Port Stanley to capture the second day of action in the Great Lakes storm season. My friend @artjohnstonphotography was there to capture this frame of me out in the “washing machine”. It’s a very humbling experience being surrounded by so much power!
‘Eerie Erie’ – My most appropriately spooky Halloween Wave image. The things I’ve seen on Lake Erie are downright scary. Captured on a Friday the 13th of all days!
‘The Kraken’ – Miss September in my 2018 Lake Erie calendar.
I was looking for a dime and found a quarter • Lake Erie.
Transforming the miserable to the marvelous. I invite you to zoom in & have a look at the chaos within this Lake Erie wave. Chaos that exists for all of about 1.5 seconds in time.. and then is gone forever.
“The waves are like being in a giant washing machine and come from all directions,” Sandford told Business Insider. “You don’t really have time to react in these situations. You have to anticipate to get these moments.”
“I’ve seen Lake Erie be as flat as a pancake and, in under 30 minutes, whip up into a mad frenzy. She always commands respect.”
Some assembly required, may require batteries.
A shallow lake, with such deep emotion.
Here’s another group of images that show the magnificence of ocean wave photography.
And here’s an amazing and hypnotic video compilation of ocean waves by three artists that is sure to have you staring, mesmerized.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.