Photo essay from Bluewater's longest-running annual photo workshop (trip 1)

Anilao Workshop Report

Brent Durand

Workshop 1: April 27 – May 7, 2017



Lightning flashes electric far above the Verde Island Passage as we roll into the warm water of Anilao for a dusk-into-night dive. We're just starting to kick down the slope behind our guide when I spot a colorful nudibranch situated perfectly for a tight portrait and am faced with the torment of Anilao diving: shoot this great subject or swim over to the guide, who is already flicking his light to check out the photo subject he's found.


That's Anilao macro diving during the Bluewater Photo April/May workshops. 70 minutes of filling memory cards with rare photo subjects four times a day, ten days in a row.

 

22 divers joined workshop co-leader Tommy Stylski and I, along with renowned macro photographer Mike Bartick. Our group consisted of divers of all experience levels with all sorts of camera gear.




Anilao is one of the few places that might make you say, "just another nudibranch."

Sony a6500 with Sony 16-50mm lens, Fantasea FA6500 housing, Fantasea UCL-09F diopter. Gear on loan for review. Photo: Brent Durand



Tommy sums our experience up well:


“Anilao, you did it again! During the BWP workshop the critters came out to play - we had moments with blue ring octopus, hairy frogfish, Pygmy seahorse and heaps of nudibranchs. The entire group was inspiring and everyone's participation made this trip fun, informative and created a good energy that flowed through the resort. It was another successful workshop and having the opportunity to work alongside Brent Durand and Mike Bartick is always added value. Thanks to our workshop guests for another memorable experience and to Anilao, salamat poh!”

 

Each morning began with a fun, positive critique of our images before heading out for two dives. After lunch came a 30-40 minute photo talk, covering exposures, focus, composition, lighting, lighting and more lighting. After our afternoon dive, evening dive and dinner, we pushed our eyelids open to work on post-processing and other one-on-one instruction. On top of that, we even spent some time working underwater on strobe positioning, settings and more.


On the last night of the workshop, we experienced the most electric 30 minute afterglow cloud show of a sunset before looking through the winners of the photo contest. It just so happened that everyone earned a ranking! You can see why in all the photos we’ve shared in this article. It was hard to pick among these photos to share, as everyone kept submitting better and better images throughout the trip (wow!), so I made decisions based on overal critter portolio. Enjoy!

Anilao – you have us itching to go back next year to have fun and further improve our photography… already!



Anilao Workshop Photos 2017 - Trip 1


Coconut octopus cruising, by Amy Zamurut.


Lighting a golden goby, by Adrian Cardoni.


Mating mandarinfish, by Barry Cline.


Lionfish display, by Fran Clepper.


Towering nembrotha nudibranch, by Hagai Zvulun.


A reef of Anilao, by Jeff Minor.


Dive modeling, by Jody Cline.


Octopus and light, by Judith Crews.


Ambon scorpionfish portrait, by Pat Pedrotti.


Sexy shrimp a.k.a. squat anemone shrimp, by Rainer Otto.


Puffer portraiture, by Rick Levesque.


Shrimp and her eggs, by Sean Kelley.


Anemonefish and his home, by Stacy Levesque.


Octopus eyes, by Steven lasko.


The seahorse, by Sue McCready.


Hungry nembrotha nudibranch, by Tim Clepper.

 


Of course, we also shot video:


Smiling cucumber, by Fran Clepper.



And last but not least, from our Bluewater co-host, Tommy:


A pink-eyed goby perches on a dramatic hard coral landscape. Photo: Tommy Stylski.



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