Underwater Tribe/NAD Lembeh Photo Fun Week Wrap Up

Group photo of workshop

Another Underwater Tribe/NAD Lembeh Resort Photo Fun Week has come to an end and we have arrived home back in Bali already missing the great atmosphere and wonderful food at NAD. We aren’t sad though because we are happily reminiscing over what a wonderful week we have just had with a great group of people. It all started on the 18th of July with all of our guests arriving by the mid afternoon. After having the chance to set up equipment in NAD’s spacious camera room, we all gathered together after dinner to discuss the plans for the upcoming week and listen to a quick strobe primer by Mike before enjoying a wonderful slideshow about the cool critters we could expect to see throughout the week presented by NAD manager Serge.

Serge Presents

 

The following morning, and for each of the next 5 days, our schedule consisted of heading out after breakfast for 2 dives in the diverse Lembeh Strait. Our bottom times were set to 75 minutes max with between dives snacks and hot drinks served on the roomy and fast boats. With 1 dive guide for every 2 guests, plus 2 photo instructors in the water with slates in hand, everyone was well looked after in the water and there were critters a plenty every day. After lunch back at the resort, we gathered in the upstairs area for a daily presentation before heading out on an afternoon dive. After the afternoon dive we would gather in the restaurant for our daily critiquing and Lightroom sessions before dinner. After dinner each night we would then meet once again upstairs for another presentation as well as a primer on the next days dives and a suggestion of what to work on in the way of photographic technique.

Guide Rokles gives a briefing

Topics throughout the week consisted of the following: Strobe Positioning, Shooting Wide in Lembeh, The Basics of Lighting (fstops, shutter speeds and how they work together), Lightroom, Shooting with a Constant Light Source, Blue and Black Macro Backgrounds, Snooting, and How to Win a Photo Competition. In the water, Mike and Luca spent every dive with a slate in hand working one to one with our students helping them with new techniques in order for them to improve their photography with practical underwater hands on help. One of the big successes this year was the effectiveness of the evening Lightroom and critiquing sessions as everyone gathered in the restaurant each day for image review and Lightroom technique tutorials in a relaxed atmosphere.

Luca Presenting

 

On the last day our schedule consisted of just 2 morning dives with the afternoon scheduled for final image review and the preparation of images for the final night slideshow! The big event at the end of all of our photo workshops is a slideshow of everyone’s favourite images taken throughout the week which are shown in random order on the big screen in order to show the highlights of diving in Lembeh. We don’t create a competitive atmosphere during our workshops and we don’t offer prizes because we believe this creates too much competitiveness amongst participants and takes away from the fun vibe of our “Fun Weeks”. Our NAD 2015 final slideshow showcased some of the best images we have seen from all of our workshops over the years and we are very happy to showcase some of the images from the participants below!  The list of critters that we encountered throughout the week is too long to mention but some of the memorable ones include multiple blue ring octopus, hairy frogfish, loads of different frogfish from tiny to giant, ghost pipefish, wonderpus, harlequin shrimp, and even an eagle ray!

Group shot on Boat

 

Thanks to all of this year’s participants from Australia, the Netherlands, and the USA, we had a few familiar faces this week as well as a great group of new participants, we look forward to seeing you all again soon on a future Underwater Tribe event. Enough with the chit-chat, lets get on with the presentation of some great images from the gang for a very well deserved round of applause.

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On the Road Again – Destination Lembeh

Manta Rays

It’s been a bit of whirl-wind over the past few months!  I returned yesterday from my third trip to Komodo in May and June and will be here in Bali for an entire 3 days before shipping out to Lembeh!  I will of course be heading to NAD Lembeh Resort for almost 3 weeks of fun in the critter capital of the world.  The main reason I am heading to Lembeh is of course to conduct our annual Underwater Tribe/NAD Lembeh photo workshop which starts on the 18th and ends on the 25th.  However, I am going early in order to take some of my own photographs in the wonderful world of muck as I won’t be taking any photos during the workshop itself.  I am certainly looking forward to it as I haven’t done any serious shooting in Lembeh for quite some time.  It will be quite a transition from the wide angle photo and videos I have been shooting in Komodo lately to the behaviour and macro photo and video I hope to be shooting in Lembeh!  I will be the special guest blogger on the NAD Blog so please have a look over the coming weeks.

And here is what I will be shooting next week, it will be a challenge on my eyes I think!

Crinoid Cuttlefish

 

The Fish Butt Photo

One of the things we hear the most when talking to underwater photographers is “I have a whole hard drive full of fish butts!”  I believe everyone knows the feeling of sneaking up on an underwater subject to get just that much closer when “boom” the subject you have just spent endless time stalking suddenly turns and speeds off just as you pull the trigger!  The resulting photo is what is lovingly called a “fish butt” shot and I know I have a hard drive full of them myself!  In fact, I have often thought about publishing a book called “Butts of the Pacific” but then I figured it may get banned for censorship reasons so unfortunately I have yet to do so!  However, not all “butt shots” are created equal, in fact, I think this small hawksbill turtle has a lovely butt, he sure did spend a lot of time with his beak in a hole eating sponges and showing me nothing but butt until I ran out of air, therefore, before heading up I had to snap off at least one photo of this turtle and I believe the result wasn’t too bad, for a butt shot!

This was taken at Whale Rock in the incredible Misool area of Raja Ampat where we will be heading again in 2017!

 

Hawksbill Turtle Butt

Schooling Striped Catfish

When diving in Bali or Lembeh or a myriad of other sites with sandy bottoms, do you ever see a cloud of dust rising up in the distance?  When you get close the disturbance it often turns out to be a big school of striped catfish churning up the sand in search of food.  These social fish with their distinctive barbed mouth are a common resident in the Indo Pacific area and always make an interesting photo subject in both macro or wide angle formats.  This shot was taken in Bali at Seraya Secrets with a Nikon D7000 and Aquatica housing, 105mm, f22, 1/250 and Sea and Sea strobes

Juvenile Catfish

 

 

How To?? Shoot the Perfect Silhouette

Over on the Bali Academy of Underwater Photography website we are constantly uploading new “How To??” tutorials which give brief descriptions of “how to” do something related to photography and image making in general.  Here is the latest in its entirety, entitled “How To?? Shoot the Perfect Silhouette”.  To see the whole series head on over to the How To?? page on the BAUP site.

 

How To??  Shoot the Perfect Silhouette

 

Silhouette of Whaleshark

A well shot silhouette is one of the more simple yet most stunning examples of an underwater photograph when done well. Although a brilliant silhouette may look intricate and difficult to get right, it’s often the composition that has made it stand out rather than a technical setup. With a few tips, anyone can learn to take a great silhouette photo, here are 5 tips to get you on the right track.

 

  1. Use a fast shutter speed: it’s the shutter speed that freezes the light rays, use as high of a shutter speed as you can. Don’t forget to turn off your internal flash if you are shooting with fibre optics, the internal flash will limit your shutter speed capabilities

 

  1. Block the sun: by blocking the sun with your main subject or leaving it outside of the frame, the “rays” take centre stage and are not overshadowed by a bright sun ball

 

  1. Don’t use too high of an f-stop: the higher your f-stop the darker the edges of the photo become, if you want the silhouette to stand out against a brilliant blue then f8-f11 is the perfect f-stop

 

  1. Choose a subject that is recognizable in silhouette! Large subjects such as mantas, sharks, and turtles work well as silhouettes.

 

  1. Try shooting on shutter priority: Shooting “natural light” is the only time I might consider shooting with anything other than Manual mode underwater. By choosing shutter priority and then selecting a shutter speed of 1/500 I know I will get very nice sun rays if I compose my photo properly and the sunlight is right. As the sun rays are the most important part of a silhouette, then having the correct shutter speed is my “priority” on the shot and I can let the camera figure out the f-stop if I am moving quickly.

Manta Snorkeling Encounter

I recently arrived back from a short trip to the Komodo National Park in Indonesia and it was another great trip to this wonderful location.  The highlight of the trip for myself was that we were able to swim with dozens of manta rays in the south at a site called Manta Alley.  The mantas themselves were all at the surface feeding for the entire morning, so even though we tried jumping in the water to dive with them, we weren’t having much success with encounters.  Therefore, we did the smart thing and surfaced from our dive in order to snorkel with them instead!  These beautiful animals did not feel any threat from our presence and willingly swam alongside us for minutes at a time.  We enjoyed the encounter so much we even came back and jumped in a second time!  Although the water was cold and somewhat green, that doesn’t really matter when you are surrounded by mantas does it?!?  Interested in a trip to Komodo, join the Underwater Tribe on an adventure there in September 2015!

How To?? Take Better Coral Reef Images

Over on our Bali Academy of Underwater Photography website we often post short “Photo Tips” in a section called “How To??“.  This page is dedicated to very short tutorials with quick tips on helping you improve your photography; for those interested in longer tutorials we reserve those for our “Articles” page instead.  So head on over to the site when you have time and check them out!  Here is the latest “How To??” article below

How To?  Shoot Stunning Coral Reef Garden Photos

Coral Reef

 

Nothing shows the reality of a healthy coral reef better than a wide angle photography of a beautiful hard coral garden. To shoot a coral garden effectively there are a couple of things to keep in mind that will help to achieve the best results.

1.  Stay shallow! The best results will be in less than 10 metres of water

2.  Turn off your strobes and use the sun at your back, the sun will illuminate the coral and bring the colour in

3.  Shoot at a slightly downward angle, this will allow you to frame as much of the interesting coral reef as possible

4.  Use a fisheye lens or a higher f-stop (such as f11) in order to avoid bad corners from a rectilinear lens. Bad corners will show very obviously with intricate corals filling the frame

5.  If possible utilize a red filter or magic filter and manual white balance settings. Using a filter will help filter out the blues and greens from the image and create a more even colour tone. Also, shoot in RAW so you can experiment with WB in post processing.

6.  If time of day and conditions allow, try to include sunrays at the edges of the photo in order to add a second element in the composition. Including a distant diver or freediver is another excellent choice of a secondary subject.

Back from Komodo

I am just back from a great voyage to the Komodo National Park! It was my first trip there in 2015 but it won’t be long until my second, heading there again in two weeks time. The diving was amazing as always and I will be posting a short video of a snorkel we had with around 30 mantas at Manta Alley! Here is a teaser image of the scenic lookout on top of Gili Lawa Darat to keep you entertained until I can upload the mantas.

 

Gili Lawa Lookout

 

Abstract Macro Photography

One of the more unique looking photos you can take are of fairly common subjects but shot in an abstract way.  A simple way to do this is with a macro lens and using your “artsy” eye to see outside of the box.  In this photo of a wrasse in Bali I go right up close and personal and only focused on its pectoral fin rather than shooting the entire fish.  This style of photograph works extremely well with varied colored tropical fish which have interesting and unique designs.  Try out shooting abstract photos the next time you are shooting macro.

 

Fish abstract photo