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

Raja Ampat 2015 Video Highlights

It has taken some time but I have finally edited down my video clips from the Underwater Tribe Raja Ampat trip aboard the Mermaid II liveaboard in March 2015.  As expected, the Raja 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

Giant Trevally Hunting a Baitball

One of the best things to experience underwater is a true baitball happening right in front of your eyes.  Areas such as South Africa are famous for its’ Sardine Run but it’s certainly not the only place in the world to see this sort of activity.  In Indonesia, Komodo National Park is a great place to witness baitballs at a couple of the popular dive sites, including where this one was filmed: Batu Bolong.  For those who don’t know Batu Bolong, it’s a large pinnacle sticking out of the middle of a large channel with a massive amount of water running through it.  On this occasion, instead of going to the “safe side” of the rock, I stayed on the current side in the shallow water in order to watch what sort of action would happen.  I was very happy to find that there was a massive school of fusiliers hanging just off the reef which were being hunted by several dozen giant trevally, napolean wrasse, and even a few white tip and grey reef sharks.  The best way to describe it?  Watch the video!  (perhaps the speed was played with a bit on this one…)


Fibre Optic Internet!

Well well well.. its a great month for me here in Bali, I have now finally graduated to somewhat of a modern internet!   Fibre optic internet!

For years, I have struggled with internet speeds and this has always been a source of much frustration for me trying to upload high resolution photos, upload videos, watch any videos online or any other rather mundane tasks that most people (not my friends in Palau mind you..) pretty much take for granted.  When I lived in Yap I believe we had 128 kbps, once I made it to Lembeh I was up to 256, then until last week here in Bali I had 512kbps (all of which were expensive and satellite based).  However, Telkom Indihome Fibre Optic Internet has now been released here in Bali and it finally reached my area and I now boast a booming 10mbps!  Last week I was FTPing uploads at 8 to 15 kbps, needless to say, a 200mb video file would take a very long time!  Today, I am now uploading at 100 kbps, now I can even utilize the Cloud to backup my images.. That is reassuring.


Speed Test Photo

(no comments from you fast internet people ruining my day 😛 )



How To?? Shoot Underwater with a Filter

Another in the “How To??” series of short photo articles that I present over on the Bali Academy of Underwater Photography website, have a look at the full list on the How To?? listing page

Photographer and Hard CoralShoot 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.

500px Image Platform

500px mangroves500px is a photo sharing site similar to Flickr or any other number of photo sharing sites out there but it does offer something of a twist.  For photographers who are interested in selling some of their images via “royalty free”, 500px offers a 70% commission to the photographer for any and all sales using their 500px Prime platform.  Also, 500px is a great site to have a look at some incredible photos from all sorts of different photographic genres.  I now put a lot of my “seconds” on this site in order promote and hopefully make a few $$ in income along the way.

To see my portfolio on 500px please have a look here: Mike Veitch on 500px

If you want to look at the general site itself then simply go to to look at some fantastic and inspiring images from all around the world

Doug Sloss Joining Us in Lembeh

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

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)

How To?? Limited Depth of Field Macro Underwater Photography

Over on our Bali Academy of Underwater Photography website, we have a series of articles called “How To??” which are very short posts discuss “How To” shoot a certain type of photo or photography style or even post processing techniques. If you haven’t had a look at the site before there are several of these short posts on the site as well as a few full articles, check them out on the Tutorials page.

I have copied the latest “How To??” article here, entitled “How To?? Limited Depth of Field Macro Underwater Photography

Depth of FieldLimited Depth of Field composition is a very effective and stunning form of photography when it’s done well. Although it does look complicated, it’s actually a very easy technique to setup. Here are a few steps to follow to learn “How To” take macro underwater photos with great bokeh.


  1. Choose an fstop between 1.8 and 8, the more open the f-stop the less DOF there is
  2. Strobe strength has to be at a very low power or else utilize TTL
  3. Choose subject accordingly, a flat subject will not “show off” the bokeh properly, therefore subject selection is key
  4. Don’t forget the background, a colourful background will enhance the “out of focus” aspect of the background itself. Bright colours work well
  5. Use a fast shutter speed: the DOF is very narrow so any little movements from the camera will be multiplied in the photo, using a fast shutter speed helps
  6. Use manual focus or focus lock, keeping a very narrow area of a macro image is hard to do, using manual focus helps so that the lens does not “hunt” while focusing


That’s it, very simple yet effective hints for trying this fun form of underwater photography

I Am Now on Instagram

Well, it took many years but I have finally signed up to Instagram.  I have always kind of looked at Instagram as something for iphone people only, as you can’t sign up from a laptop!  Why would a company not want people to sign up from a computer?  That just seems weird and annoying in my opinion!  However, obviously it’s working because Instagram sure has taken off, so here I finally am signing up.   Why now?  Well I  finally have a phone running on Android (I refuse to pay $1000 for an iphone!) which has allowed me to sign up and post.  I do find the square crop to be somewhat limiting but have found a way around that by framing each photo with a border in order to keep the natural ratio of the photos in tact.  So if you are a follower of Instagram then please do give my new portfolio a follow @MikeVeitch and while you are at it, follow the Underwater Tribe on Instagram as well @Underwater_Tribe

Here are a few square shots to get you started…

Batfish Coral Reef Cuttle Ayau Lagoon


Story Behind the Shot – Hawksbill Turtle Eating the Dome Port

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