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Special Report: That Perfect Shot

Darren Danielson
Updated: April 04, 2019 02:14 PM

Have you ever come across a beautiful photograph that just made you say, wow look at that? A sunrise maybe, or a big wave crashing, or ice chunks shimmering on Lake Superior?

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Any time of year, the Northland has much beauty to photograph, and we have an abundance of photographers doing it.

They capture images, which capture our attention. Christian Dalbec's photographs are all over Facebook, Youtube and other social media sites. He's always on the look out for that perfect shot. "I want the perfect light, the perfect texture for me in the water, so it's glassy looking."

You may be familiar with some of his photos already. But you might not know the story of the man behind the camera.

"I got into alcohol and drank most of my life from high school to 2011," he told us.

Christian Dalbec's road to recovery began on a road into photography.

"I was into a lot of trouble and I got out of that and I picked up photography as a way to keep my mind busy."

With his busy mind now clear and with camera in hand, he discovered something else that would also change his life: Lake Superior. It is here that Dalbec re-focused his life, by focusing his camera.

The Lake's beauty and power drew him first to her shore, but then it was the waves he says that began calling him deeper.

To answer that call, he needed something else. He needed to be prepared, he needed a wetsuit.

"When I'm shooting waves, I stop them still in all kinds of different forms."

Stopping mother nature with a click. Snatching a moment in time, and preserving it for all to see. Once just an observer from a distance, he immersed himself both figuratively and literally in this great Lake.

It wasn't easy, but thanks to a summer job at a scuba shop when he was just a teenager, he developed an unorthodox approach to capturing the Lake's rushing power and rolling symmetry.

"I started out with a life jacket, and now I wear 25 pounds of lead," Dalbec said. 

Now lead is not a recommended flotation device, but he says he does it for a good reason. "When a wave comes you have to dive down under it to get underneath. There's no where else to go, you gotta get to the bottom and out of the way."

Dalbec now uses those scuba skills to capture amazing beauty. "There's never going to be one that looks the same again," he said while describing the feeling of capturing the pictures. "You know it's a one time shot, it's really fun to capture the movement of the Lake."

Places like Hawaii and California have lots of photographers who specialize in wave photography. Here however, it's not very common which helps make Dalbec's images of Lake Superior so interesting.

Despite his unique approach, Dalbec says he loves sharing tips and ideas with what he describes as the huge community of photographers in the Northland.

"It's like race car drivers that get together. You want to talk about your engines and your gear, it's the same thing with photographers, it's a lot of fun!"

It's been said that photography has less to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

Choosing his words carefully, he looked out at the lake and added: "It's awakening too, being that I came from where I did. I was looking at life from the bars for all those years. Then I came out and found nature and Lake Superior. I feel really blessed that my eyes have been opened and I can show everyone what I'm seeing now."

We are all glad about that too Christian.

In Part 2 of That Perfect Shot, we'll meet another interesting photographer whose pictures will also impress you...and her methods will surprise you.

Credits

Darren Danielson

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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