Dumaguete, Philippines is a dive destination offering not just excellent diving, but incredible underwater photo opportunities. Photographers can spend countless hours among the biodiverse fields of macro critters, taking in the wide-angle color of nearby reefs, or swimming with massive whale sharks.
Bluewater Travel recently hosted another photo workshop at Atmosphere Resort, led by photo pro Ron Watkins. Below are some of the photos collected from Bluewater friends on the trip, as well as the stories behind those shots. Enjoy!
RARE RENDEZVOUS – MATING CIRCLED DRAGONET
BY JOHN AMERSON
This photo was taken in Dumaguette, (Negros) Philippines during a Bluewater Photo Workshop led by Photo Professional Ron Watkins in February 2017 at Atmosphere. During a twilight dive, in an attempt to get some photos of Mandarin Dragonets, we managed to locate a pair of Circled Dragonets. At first they were acting in an independent manner and I attempted to get some photos of individual fish, but then, all of a sudden they started a rather particular ritual which gave me the opportunity to get a few very unique behavioral shots. Dragonets are known for never sitting still and posing for photos, so needless to say, shooting them was a real challenge for a fairly new Underwater Photographer.
Gear: Camera: Olympus O-MD E-M1 MarkII with Olympus F2.8 Macro Lens in Nauticam housing and dual YS-D2 strobes. 1/200 sec, f/14, ISO 200.
I want to finish by saying "Thanks" to all the professionals at Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel and all the folks that make their Workshops possible. I have had the distinct pleasure of attending two Bluewater Photo Workshops, both in the Philippines (Anilao and Dumaguete) and these workshops are a great place where everyone from a Novice to a Professional Photographers can learn a few new tricks and elevate their photography. We have also made life long friends on these workshops so there are so many good like-minded people on them.
REFLECTING ON THE PHILIPPINES
BY KAREN SPENCER
This was my second visit to Atmosphere Resort in the Philippines with Ron Watkins and Bluewater Photo, but it was my first visit to Oslob to swim with the whale sharks and what a treat! They were like gentle giants moving through the water. Based on the workshop we had the night before going on Ambient Light photography and Whale Sharks, I tried to anticipate their route and get as close as possible with the sun to my back. I shot this image with an Olympus Pen EPL-5 and started off with Ron's “Splash-Down” recommended settings for shutter priority: iso 400, f8, 1/125, -0.7. I placed the camera just below the surface angling slightly up and was able to see the reflection of his skin from the surface.
BIG FISH, LITTLE FISH
BY SUSANNE SKYRM
This was a “drive-by” shot, taken at the very end of our second morning dive. I was swimming towards the boat when I noticed our dive master summoning one of the other divers over to a spot close by. I saw that he was gesturing towards a lizardfish, and decided that it wasn’t worth the effort to take another photo, since I already had some of lizardfish. But then something told me to go back. It was indeed a lizardfish in the act of swallowing another fish. I waited for the other diver to take her photo and then slowly positioned myself as low as I could get and took only one shot before ending the dive. Turned out that my one shot was a fairly graphic representation of the lizardfish’s lunch! During the week long Bluewater Workshop we were taught to look for and how to photograph unique behavior. We saw a lot, but this is my favorite behavior shot of the trip!
Canon T1i in Watershot housing, single Inon 2000 strobe, Canon 100mm lens, f13 @ 1/200, ISO 100.
CONCH EYE BOKEH
BY DONNA CHARBONNEAU
A couple of years ago, I saved a shot that I saw online and loved. It was a conch eye bokeh. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get that great bokeh ever since! I’ve shot a lot of eyes and never had the shallow depth of field that I wanted with the background blurred shell adding an interesting shape for composition. These snails “clomp” forward and make sudden direction changes so it’s not as easy as it looks!
Nikon D7200 1/250 f16 ISO200 105mm lens, Nauticam housing, 2 Inon Z240 strobes, SMC diopter.