NAD Lembeh Photo Fun Week 2016 Summary

Lembeh Group Photo

We have just finished our 4th Annual Underwater Tribe/NAD Lembeh Resort Photo Fun Week and it was a resounding success! Along with the Underwater Tribe’s Mike and Luca as instructors, we also welcomed Doug and Lorenza Sloss of UW Lightroom to the teaching team to add a vast knowledge of Lightroom and Photoshop to this year’s event.

InstructorsThe event started on the 30th of July with a few people arriving in the afternoon joining those who arrived early with a relaxed day of diving and gear prep before the evening “Welcome Session” and introduction after dinner. We welcomed 15 folks from around the world on the first day with another 3 joining a few days late for a total of 18 participants along with our 3 underwater instructors. Joining us this year was a great mix of participants from Singapore, Belgium, Australia, the USA, the UK, and Italy. During this session the instructors were able to give a run down of what to expect throughout the week as well as an opportunity for the participants to introduce themselves and give a short statement about what they were hoping to learn during the week. As many people traveled a long distance to get to Lembeh, we had a short night so that everyone could get their rest for the first day of diving on the 31st.

Our daily schedule consisted of an early breakfast before heading out on NAD’s large, fast, and comfortable boats for two dives before heading back to the resort for a tasty buffet style lunch. After lunch each day, one of the instructional team presented a short discussion about photography followed by an afternoon dive and then an open discussion forum at 5pm which focused on Lightroom as well as an opportunity to spend time 1:1 with the instructors for photo critiquing and general discussion about photography tips. For most evenings, we followed dinner with another Instructional presentation, however, this year we organized the opportunity for our participants to join a Black Water Night Dive for a truly extraordinary photo opportunity.

One of the hallmarks of an Underwater Tribe Photography Event is that the instructors do not bring cameras during the dives, this allows the participants to maximize their learning time not just in the classroom but also underwater. Armed with slates in hand, Mike, Doug, and Luca accompanied the guests on 17 dives throughout the week offering immediate suggestions on strobe positioning and exposure as well as helping with snooting and backlighting options. This technique proved to be of paramount importance during the critiquing and personal sessions in the afternoons as it allowed the instructors to personally suggest improvements and ideas to further everyone’s development.

workshop2016 (8 of 11)As is the case with most of our workshops, the participants ranged from brand new photographers to experienced ones with 100s of dives with a camera. To be sure that everyone was on the same page, we started the week off with the basics of Exposure and Lighting along with what we term “normal” strobe positioning. Also during the first day of presentations, Doug delved into the Lightroom workflow to get everyone on the right track with image management. Throughout the week we then discussed other underwater photography topics such as: Blue and Black Macro Backgrounds, Creative Strobe Positioning, Composition, Shooting Wide in Lembeh, Constant Light, Limited Depth of Field, Snooting, and Backlighting. We also presented Lightroom tips and tricks during the Developing stage with examples of the Radial Overlay and Adjustment Brush tools to get everyone’s images popping.

workshop2016 (3 of 11)Of course our report wouldn’t be complete without mention of the amazing critters that we encountered in Lembeh. Hairy octopus, mating blue ring octopus, mimic octopus, coconut octopus, rhinopias, oodles of nudibranchs, shaun the sheep nudibranch, bumblebee shrimp, harlequin shrimp, frogfish galore, three different species of pygmy seahorse, and everything else that a trip to the Lembeh Strait can offer. With the fantastic 2:1 dive guide to guest ratio that NAD offers their guests, it seemed that we were finding a new and exotic critter every few minutes. One of the best advantages of being able to dive with an operator offering such a low guide to guest ratio is the fact that photographers don’t feel rushed by others and can take their time to set up a photograph correctly. (except in the case of pygmy seahorses where photographers are limited to the number of photos they can take)

During the last night of our event we collected everyone’s best photos of the week and presented a beautiful 20 minute slideshow which showcased some amazing images from everyone. We can say that everyone was very impressed by the fantastic photographs that everyone presented and it was very exciting to see photographs which were inspired by many of the tips and tricks presented during the week. Sooner than expected the final dives were made and the computers and cameras were packed up to signal the end of this years event. All in all, it was another fantastic experience at NAD Lembeh Resort this year and we are busy making plans for 2017. The entire week ran very smoothly due to the hard work of the friendly staff and a fun atmosphere on the boats and at the resort from morning and often late into the night. We would like to thank Simon, Zee, Serge and the entire staff of NAD Lembeh Resort for helping us host this years Photo Fun Week. We would also like to thank Doug and Lorenza Sloss for joining us this year to help expand the event and create a fun atmosphere for everyone. Last but not least, a special thank you for all of this year’s participants, we hope you had as much fun as we did and also learned some exciting new tricks to improve your photography!

Until next year

The Underwater Tribe and UW Lightroom

 

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Story Behind the Shot – The Liberty Wreck

The Liberty Wreck

My first time diving the Liberty Wreck in Tulamben, Bali was in 2006 during a photo workshop I was conducting with Tim Rock at Scuba Seraya. During my very first dive on the wreck, I swam the length of the wreck scanning the site for the best photo opportunities. Once I reached the midship area, with the open cargo hold, I kept it in my mind as being one of the best “photo ops” of the wreck as it certainly offered a real feel of being in a proper shipwreck as opposed to only the colourful soft corals which are plentiful on the Liberty.  Being ever the opportunist, I immediately decided that I wanted to incorporate photos of this scene into the photo workshop that we were teaching. Therefore, for the rest of the week I worked with each of the participants to set up this same shot again and again with very positive results for everyone who took the shot. Although it looks like a simple shot, the difference in brightness inside and outside of the hold does make it a great learning process for new photographers to work out the intricacies of shooting natural light photography and silhouettes.

For anyone who has taken a photo class with me in Bali since then, you will most likely recognize the photo. Knowing a good learning experience when I found it, I continue to utilize this scene in all of the photo classes that we teach in Tulamben to this day and I am sure will continue to do so far into the future.

If you are diving with us here in Bali, let us know if you would like to try your hand at this photo opportunity, we are always happy to model for you!

Thanks to Sofie for being the model in this photograph with the Liberty Wreck

Mike Veitch

How To?? – Shoot Underwater With Filters

Filter PhotographyShoot Underwater with a Filter

Filter photography has really come into it’s own with the advent of digital photography and the ability to white balance underwater. Although it has been used for a long time with digital video underwater, red filters and white balancing did not really become popular with still photographers until the early to mid 2000s. The use of a filter underwater allows the photographer to filter out some of the nasty blues and greens that dominate the colour spectrum deeper than 10 feet and bring back a warm colour balance along with a lot of contrast and typically a beautiful blue. Shooting with a Filter of any sort is actually quite easy, here are a few tips to get you started:

 

  1. Don’t Use Strobes – to get the most from a filter it’s best to use with natural light only
  2. Stay Shallow – as the shot will be illuminated with natural light, the best results are typically from 15 m (50ft) or shallower
  3. Keep the Sun Behind You – the key to illuminating the subject properly and getting the best colour is to have the sun helping
  4. Shoot Slightly Down- although this sounds like the opposite of what is drilled into new photographers (Shoot UP!) in natural light or filter photography shooting on a slightly downward angle helps
  5. Use manual white balance and re set it prior to shooting each new subject
  6. Concentrate on using a wide angle lens, this will provide the best potential for filters. Macro is best shot with strobes

That’s it! Now it’s just a case of getting your hands on some filters and a nice shallow dive site. Our friends over at Magic Filters provide the best and largest range of filters for underwater photographers so head on over to their website to have a look at their products.

Doug Sloss Joins us in Lembeh in 2016

We are excited to announce that world famous photographer and Post Processing wizard Doug Sloss will be joining us for our Lembeh Strait Photo Funweek at NAD Lembeh Resort for 2016.  As an update, we have also changed dates for this exciting event from May to July/August, the new dates for our Lembeh Photo Week are 30 July – 6 August 2016.  Doug is a long time friend of the Underwater Tribe and NAD Lembeh Resort and he and his wife Lorenza are one of the top underwater photography and post processing teams on the planet.  Like any Underwater Tribe photo fun week (click to read about our 2015 Lembeh Photo week), Doug will be joining the guests underwater with a slate in hand, as opposed to a camera, in order to help the participants get their best possible images.  Throughout the week Doug will be presenting tips and tricks about Lightroom and Photoshop as well as being on hand to give individual help to everyone.

Here is a brief bio about Doug:

Doug Sloss Bio Pic“Doug Sloss is an underwater and landscape photographer, photography educator, and digital image developing enthusiast based in the Rockies just outside Denver Colorado. Once a long time photo pro and dive instructor in Palau, Micronesia, his award winning photography has appeared in numerous diving magazines and books worldwide. His passion for teaching photography led to a successful series of DVD tutorials he’s created that help underwater and topside shooters of all levels professionally post-process their images with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. He is the principal photographer at Studio Sloss and is an expedition leader and photo pro for Beyond The Capture Photo Tours, a company he owns with his wife Lorenza. When not shooting client work for his Colorado based photo studio, he offers a select calendar of field workshops, photo tours and image developing classes throughout the year and spends time teaching his little man Sam how to scuba dive.”

 

To find out more about Doug please visit his website www.underwaterlightroom.com

For more information about our UWT/NAD Lembeh Photo Fun Week 2016 please visit our Lembeh 2016 web page or email us at info (at)underwatertribe.com

We Are on Instagram!

Mola Instagram

We have finally jumped on the bandwagon and joined Instagram!  If you are not already on Instagram or don’t know what it is, it’s simply a photo sharing platform that allows you to send out photos for your friends and followers to admire.  Of course here at the Bali Academy of Underwater Photography and the Underwater Tribe, we take a lot of photos!  Therefore please follow our Instagram feeds for a daily dose of photo goodness from Bali and Beyond!  We have even come up with a way of posting photos in their original ratio instead of the square format

The Underwater Tribe @underwater_tribe

Mike Veitch @mikeveitch

Luca Vaime @luca_vaime

 

Let us know your Instagram account and we will follow you back.

Underwater Tribe/ NAD Lembeh Photo Fun Week

The UWT/NAD Banner

It’s on!  The Third Annual Underwater Tribe/NAD Lembeh Photo Workshop started today with a bang!  All of our guests arrived by the 18th and after a nice dinner we gathered upstairs in the NAD Lounge in order to present the schedule of the week, introduce ourselves, and enjoy a beautiful slideshow from Serge, the manager of NAD Lembeh Resort.  On the morning of the 19th, we headed out early with the gang to start the first of 17 scheduled dives in the always fruitful Lembeh Strait.  With a dive guide for every 2 divers we are very fortunate to be diving with NAD as they are one of the only dive centres in the world to offer such a great ratio.  With the weird and wonderful critters to be found in Lembeh, having lots of dive guides accompanying us is a great way for all of our participants to get the most of their experience here.  It didn’t take long for the full effect of this wonderful ratio to take effect as the critter list from our first day of diving is long!  Tozuma shrimp, harlequin shrimp, frogfish of every hue and colour, lemon gobies, spiny devilfish, melibe nudibranch, and a great encounter with a blue ring octopus.

 

Luca and Steve

On the educational side of things the first day of our workshops are always dedicated to working out proper strobe positioning and we spend a lot of time underwater working one on one with the students to perfect their techniques.  In the classroom, we broke down the basics of f-stops and shutter speeds and spent a few hours working one to one with everyone about Lightroom techniques.

Tomorrow we head out on an octopus hunt!  More updates from Lembeh soon

Serge

 

Mike

Constant Light or Strobe?

A frogfish with constant light source

It’s always fun to experiment with different techniques underwater.  As I am in Lembeh with the Underwater Tribe and no particular deadline or assignment in mind I have been using the time to try out a few different cameras and shooting styles.  One of the styles I have been playing around with is the use of “constant light” from a powerful underwater light, my Fisheye FIX 7000 in this case.  The results have been fairly encouraging, even though I have only tried it a few times with no real scientific basis behind it. The photo above is from the Panasonic GH-4 in a Nauticam housing with 12-50 lens with the settings of 320 ISO, f8, and 1/100 and the Fisheye FIX set to 50% power.  I am sure that if I spent a bit more time on lighting I could have achieved better colour but it was a quick and easy snapshot in shallow water (about 5 metres) just to see what I would get.

On the other hand, here is the same frogfish shot with a single Sea and Sea YS 110 alpha strobe with the same camera set to: ISO 320, f22, 1/200.  The colour saturation is obviously better on this shot and if would certainly work better as a print or published photo, however, there is nothing wrong with the constant light image and it looks fine on social media and the web.  For folks not interested in the finer points of having to deal with fstops and strobes then this is a nice combination that gets good results.

These shots are straight from the camera, I am sure with a little TLC in Photoshop or similar then the constant light photo could pop the colours as well.

A frogfish lit with strobe

Camera Reviews

Emperor Shrimp on Cucumber

One of the things I always enjoy about coming to NAD Lembeh Resort is the chance to play with the latest camera gadgets that Simon always seems to have in stock.  Last year, I was able to spend a few days shooting the Sony A7s in a Nauticam Housing as well as the Olympus EM-1 in a Nauticam housing; to see the reviews of these two setups please click here (Sony) and here (Olympus).  This year I am trying out a couple more setups:  the Panasonic GH-4 and the Olympus TG-4, both of which are combined with Nauticam housings.  First up, here are a few thoughts on the TG-4.

A cowrie shell

I have seen a lot of posts recently on social media singing the praises of the Olympus TG-4 compact camera.  Being ever the cynic, I was not a firm believer in the claims that the photos were “uncropped” and “straight from the camera” on the photos being posted around the net from this setup.  I have shot with dozens of compact cameras throughout the years and one thing that they all had in common was that they could not take a decent macro photo without some sort of external diopter. Although many boast a “macro” mode which allowed for focusing mere centimetres away, as soon as any sort of zoom was applied the camera could no longer focus.  Therefore, the only subjects these cameras could shoot on “macro” without a diopter were of subjects that didn’t move: nudibranchs or frogfish and the like.  Therefore, I was certainly skeptical of any photos that showed high magnification, high quality macro photos taken with a compact camera without any additional diopters.  However, after trying the camera on a dive today, I am now highly convinced!  What a camera!

Pikachu nudibranch

The Olympus TG-4 is a tiny little shockproof, water resistant compact offering from Olympus that is rather unassuming and not really what a photographer would think of when deciding on a camera for underwater.  It doesn’t even offer manual settings which are pretty important when shooting underwater.  When paired with the Nauticam housing, it is a very small and easy to carry underwater system with nice big push buttons and a large viewing screen.  When I used it today I brought along one of my Fisheye FIX 7000 lights to illuminate the subjects but a smaller light such as a FIX 2500 would work just as well.  A wide light is recommended as many dive torches are just too narrow to illuminate a photo in a pleasant way.  The key to using the TG-4 was setting it to the “Microscope” mode, which offers a “super macro” experience with a compact camera unlike any other I have used.  Although turning it to “microscope” meant that the on board flash no longer worked, I was able to get around this with a good video light.  It does have an LED light onboard that might be able to trigger a fibre optic flash but I didn’t bring one with me to test that but I am told that it can be done and the Nauticam housing does have a fibre optic port for a strobe attachment.  What the camera can do on “microscope” mode though is Zoom, and not just zoom a tiny bit, but rather zoom a whole lot while still retaining focus even from a few centimetres away!  This is an exciting finding and means this camera is a serious player for beginning underwater photographers who want a quality, inexpensive and easy to use “point and shoot” option underwater.  As a nice bonus, the camera itself is water proof to 15 metres and if the housing suffers from a flood it should survive without any problems.

Snake eel
That’s enough talk from me, what truly matters are the photos.  These are all straight from the camera jpg only resized with logo added, no processing or cropping.  I used the camera on automatic with a constant light from a Fisheye FIX light. I can certainly see myself buying one of these systems for our business in Bali very, very soon!

A pair of yellow gobies

Mike Veitch, Underwater Tribe

Lembeh Strait Photo Workshop 2015

Lembeh Strait Rhinopias Photo Workshop

Our Lembeh Strait Photo Workshop is coming soon, 18-25 July 2015!  We still have spaces available for this wonderful week of diving and learning all about underwater photography in one of the best locations on the planet.  The Lembeh Strait is the home of muck diving and is a wonderful place to learn and practice underwater photography skills in a relaxed and fun environment.  Our hosts, NAD Lembeh Resort are one of the leading resorts in the region and boast the best guide to diver ratio in Lembeh, 1 guide for every 2 divers!  With our policy that the instructors don’t carry cameras underwater, this means that our attention to detail for all of the guests on the workshop will be top notch.  With a low price starting at just USD $1398 per person, this is a great opportunity to dive one of the world’s top destinations with a great group of friendly people while improving your photography skills at the same time.

For more information visit the Underwater Tribe/NAD Lembeh Photo Workshop 2015 page.