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

 

workshop2016 (7 of 11) workshop2016 (6 of 11) workshop2016 (5 of 11) workshop2016 (2 of 11) workshop2016 (1 of 11)

The Beauty of Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat! It truly is a beautiful destination and one that we always look forward to visiting.  The marine life in Raja simply thrives due to the sheer size of the area, along with a small human population and a long running successful marine protection program. What this means to divers is the opportunity to experience one of the healthiest and most diverse reef systems on the planet. Mike is fortunate enough that he typically spends 2-3 months per year diving in Raja Ampat aboard different vessels exploring areas far from where other boats typically venture. Of course, he also spends a lot of time at the popular spots as well, after all, these spots are popular for a reason! However, “popular” in Raja Ampat does not mean 15 boats on a site like in other areas of the world. Due to the amount of great sites so close to one another and the fact that boats communicate with one another, it’s rare to run into another set of divers underwater in Raja (except at Manta Sandy!). We also organize group trips here quite often and we utilize our knowledge of the area to choose the best time of year to plan ahead so that we experience the best weather and the ocean conditions possible.  Of course the marine life is also a major reason for our love of the area: mantas, beautiful and healthy coral gardens, endless amounts of colourful soft corals, loads of schooling fish, cool critters such as pygmy seahorses and wobbegong sharks, and did we mention mantas?

These are just a few of the reasons that we always look forward to going back to Raja. But there is only so much that words can do, instead, have a look at the photos and video instead to see what we mean.

We will once again be heading to Raja Ampat aboard a great boat in 2017, the Mermaid II will be our home on an 8 night trip from 19-27 March 2017 departing and returning to Sorong. If you would like full information about this trip, including pricing, please let us know and we will be happy to send it to you. The best way to get a hold of us is at info@underwatertribe.com

 

Misool Raja Ampat Soft Corals Raja Ampat Colourful Corals Raja Ampat Batfish under jetty Raja Ampat Small Island Raja Ampat Crab on coral Raja Ampat A hawksbill turtle on the reef Raja Ampat Corals of Raja Ampat Boo Windows Raja Ampat Batfish Raja Ampat Red fans and corals Raja Ampat Wayag Raja Ampat

Story Behind the Shot – Banded Sea Snake

Banded Sea Snake on the Surface

Sea Snake Surfacing

One of my all time favourite photos is this photo of a black and white banded sea snake (krait) surfacing for breath.  The photo was taken at the island of Bunaken on one of the famous Likuan dive sites which feature a shallow reef bordered by a sharp vertical wall.  It was during the morning on a dive to this site where I encountered this beautiful sea snake while doing my safety stop in the shallows.  I patiently followed the snake for a while taking a photo or two of it while it stuck it’s head into a few holes in the corals, possibly looking for a meal.  The snake was not bothered by my presence and continued to swim along the reef in no particular hurry.  However, as any air breathing animal is want to do, it eventually had to swim toward the surface for a breath of air.  This is when I knew the best photo opportunity would take place, as the snake would have to swim up toward the flat calm surface.  Sure enough, off the snake went toward the surface and I quickly followed it while taking a few shots of it from below.  Immediately, I knew the photos would be winners as I could see the beautiful blue/green water pop up on my screen afterwards.  There are two elements of this photo that I believe really make the photo:  firstly, the green reflection of the reef surrounding the white clouds and blue coloured snell’s window and secondly, the ripples that the snake’s head makes on the water as it surfaced for air.

Nikon D90, 10.5 mm lens, f7.1, 1/200, ISO 200   Sea and Sea Strobes

Mike Veitch

Story Behind the Shot – Peacock Mantis Shrimp

The Peacock Mantis Shrimp

Peacock Mantis Shrimp Cover Photo

This is another cover photo from way back, it appeared on the cover of Scuba Diver Australasia in 2007.  This photo was taken at the site “Basura” in Anilao, Luzon Island in the Philippines, a stereotypical “muck” site that features a rocky slope dotted with larger coral heads located right in front of a fishing village. Hiding underneath one of these coral heads was a fairly large peacock mantis shrimp which proved to be one of the more feisty individuals that I have come across, as it showed no fear of my camera (or me) whatsoever!  It was a large specimen which was very protective of his (or her?!) space and came right out to challenge my camera as I tried to take photos. The key to this image was the fact that I had a +4 diopter on my 105mm at the time which allowed me to get much closer the shrimp than I would be able to with just the 105mm lens.

Mike Veitch

Story Behind the Shot – Coconut Octopus

The Coconut Octopus

Coconut octopus Bali

For me, the ultimate photo when it comes to close focus wide angle photography is capturing an octopus behaving in the unique ways that octopus do. In Bali, there is a black sand dive site called Puri Jati which is well known for its octopus population including long arm white V, mimic, and the ever curious coconut octopus. This particular photo was taken of a coconut octopus that I found in a few metres of water which was living inside its namesake: a coconut! The best thing about this encounter was the fact this octopus was a player, each time I edged closer, the octopus would pick up its home and scuttle across the sand away from me before settling down once again. The key to this image was shooting it from far enough away to show some of the background as well as the main subject. I also used a slower shutter speed in order to utilize the natural light to “burn in” the background to show the environment where the octopus lives.

 

Nikon D7000, 60mm lens at f11, 1/80, ISO 160

 

Mike Veitch

Story Behind the Shot – Wayag Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat Wayag Behind the Shot

 

Although most of our “Story Behind the Shot” images are typically underwater photos, I have chosen this image from Wayag, Raja Ampat, Indonesia as it’s such an iconic photo from this area. The island group of Wayag is a located in the far NW quadrant of Raja Ampat and it’s famous for it’s beautiful vistas. Measuring only a few miles from east to west and less than a mile from north to south, this incredible little archipelago consists of hundreds of small karst islets which have been carved into mushroom shapes over the millennia. Although this photo looks incredible, it’s quite an easy shot to take (other than the journey to get all the way to Wayag!) There is a rocky path that leads up one of the hills inside the lagoon that offers a fantastic 360 degree view all around the archipelago and beyond. Although the common perception would be to take this photo with the late afternoon “magic hour” lighting behind the photographer, it doesn’t actually work too well because the low light coming from behind tends to blow out the sky on the horizon. Instead, the best time to take photos here is between 10am – 2pm while utilising the magic of a circular polariser. Even better, is if the low tide coincides with the timing, as this allows the camera to capture the beautiful greens of the sand and reefs that offsets the royal blue of the deeper water. The high overhead light during this time really allows all of the colours to pop.

Nikon D7200, 12-24mm lens at 22, f8, 1/250, iso 320

Raja Ampat 2015 Video Highlights

It has taken some time but we have finally edited the video clips from the Underwater Tribe Raja Ampat trip aboard the Mermaid II liveaboard in March 2015.  As expected, the Raja Ampat area delivered some amazing diving for our group of explorers and the Misool area was especially abundant with clear water and plenty of fish.  If you would like to read a brief trip report on our 2015 adventures then please head on over to our Trip Report from March.  If you are interested in joining us on a trip of a lifetime to Raja Ampat we have booked the Mermaid II for the same moon phase at the same time of year in 2017 and we still have spaces available, please check out the 2017 trip page here: Underwater Tribe Raja Ampat 2017

 

It’s Been Awhile!

It’s been awhile, we have been exceedingly busy here in Bali over the past month and somewhat lax when it comes to our social media! Therefore, as a special gift to you all, we present another Photo of the Day!  Hope you enjoy this photo from Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat Batfish

Story Behind the Shot – Hungry Hawksbill Turtle

Hawksbill Turtle

 

One of my favourite underwater photo subjects are turtles, it doesn’t matter if it’s a “relatively” common hawksbill turtle or green turtle or any of the other more endangered turtles, I am always happy to encounter any turtle when diving. On this particular encounter on the island of Layang Layang in Sabah, Malaysia, I ran into this friendly hawksbill turtle who was happily munching away on sponge embedded in the hard coral.  As with any turtle encounter, I stopped and watched it for a few moments to see if it would be spooked by my presence or if it would allow me to get closer.  After watching it for a while I decided that it wasn’t bothered by my presence and so I slowly moved closer in order to take a few photos.  After snapping a couple of shots from the side I then decided to see if the turtle would allow me to approach from the front, as this photo can attest, it sure did!  As I moved from the side toward the front I realized that the turtle was allowing me to get quite close, but as I started to maneuver my strobes closer to the port the young hawksbill turtle decided that it was a lot more interested in my dome port than the sponges!  Abandoning the idea of moving my strobes, instead I started backpedaling away from the hungry hawksbill while snapping off a few photos and trying to avoid “turtle bites” on my port!  My guess is he/she reacted to the reflection of another turtle in the port and the attempted biting was in order to scare off a potential competitor.  After I backed off again the happy hawksbill went right back to munching on sponge and ignoring my ungainly presence.  Although I didn’t necessarily get the lighting correct on this shot, it is a photo that stands out as it was really a funny situation with a personable turtle who was intent on showing me who’s the boss!

Layang Layang, Sabah, Malaysia – Nikon D90, Aquatica Housing, 10-17mm lens, f10, 1/100, Sea and Sea Strobes

Mike Veitch

High Season Approaches

Bali Manta

It’s that time of year once again, high season in Bali!  August to November is the time of year where we start running all around the island showing our guests the beauty of Bali both above and below the waves.  Although diving and traveling are great in Bali all year round, August is the traditional start of the boom season which lasts until mid to late September.  However, October is our personal favourite month for diving in Bali, the waters are usually calm and clear (in the north!) and there are still plenty of chances to see the Mola-Mola in the south.  Of course, what is a trip to Bali without a visit to the Manta Rays of Nusa Penida!

If you haven’t booked your trip to Bali yet there is no time like the present.