Anilao Guest Photo Essay - Bluewater Dive Travel
Anilao Guest Photo Essay

Anilao Guest Photo Essay



Anilao Guest Photo Essay 

Anilao Workshop - written by Adam Gibson


A beautiful sunset view from the Crystal Blue Resort


I wake up early, experiencing the unique sensation of not snoozing my alarm and wishing for more sleep.  That desire is overrun by the hope of catching that first glimpse of blazing sun reflecting off the clear blue water of Anilao, Philippines. Down the stairs I go, first stop, coffee.  After a fresh cup filled, I venture to the balcony to admire the panoramic view. I see everything, in yet nothing.  The simplicity of wooden boats anchored along the resorts rubble shoreline, and some distant islands offering a beautiful green contrast to the blue water and sky. There’s nothing more I could dream of seeing in that moment. To locals, I’m looking at nothing, but to us visitors, we’re looking at what we save all our holiday time for. I close my eyes and listen to the calming splash of the waves calling me under and enjoy the soft hum of a compressor down below, promising a day full of exciting diving ahead.

It’s no surprise as to why the Anilao, Philippines trips are one of Bluewater Photo & Travel's oldest photo workshops.  Offering a plethora of unique macro critters, Anilao provides the perfect subjects for underwater photography and the opportunities to practice various techniques. Missed your shot? Ask your dive guide to show you the same critter the next day and 99% of the time they’ve got it without even spending much time looking.  The combination of seemingly uncaring subjects, amazing dive guides, and 60-90 minute dive times, ensures every guest is ending their trip with thousands of photos on their memory cards… Better saddle up for some long days of editing photos ahead!


A frogfish yawns as it rests on some rocks

Yawning Frogfish. Photo: Sarah Vasend 

A pink pygmy seahorse stands tall on its coral

Photo: Amy Zamarut

A bioluminescent octopus lights up the dark ocean


It’s a unique experience to be on a trip in which everyone there has a similar mindset, to try and get beautiful photos. If you enjoy taking underwater photos like myself, you oftentimes run into the issue of going on a dive trip and feeling raced around the divesite. The requirement that everyone must keep up with the dive guide and the rest of the group, and not deviate.  Or the limitations of dive times, requiring that everyone come up when the first person in the dive group goes low on air… of course just when you’ve stumbled upon a scenic reefscape or exciting critter that you want to photograph.


A small fish rests on the branch of a coral 

ISO 100, f6.3, one over 500, +7 diopter. By Lee Duckwall 

A clownfish rubs itself against its anemone

Canon G16 - single strobe - f 5.0 - 1-500sec ISO 100. By Livia Berthault 


Nikon D7000, 105mm, f18, one over 250. By Pete Pinkerton

A closeup of a clownfish taking shelter in the anemone


This is no one’s particular fault, as oftentimes in the diving community divemasters are trained to show guests around a divesite, keep people safe, not get them lost, and point out some things they may stumble upon or know about.  In Anilao, it’s a whole different mindset.  From the beginning everyone is explicitly briefed that the dive guides are primarily there to be showing you critters, so if you have marine life you want to see, or something you want to spend time taking photos of, just let the dive guide know and they’ll take care of you.  It’s not uncommon to find each person in your dive group spread out along the ocean floor, spending 5 – 30 minutes on a single subject just composing, waiting for specific behaviors, shooting, and making adjustments. But have no fear! Whenever you’re done, simply looking up to your dive guide so he knows you’re finished, and 9 out of 10 times he’s been waiting to point something else out for you. This rush-free process is a huge influence on some of the amazing images guests have been able to walk away with.


Small sea creatures blend in with the sand

Photo: Steve Harms

Two yellow fish on the neck a glass bottle

Canon G16, 1 strobe, f5.0, ISO 100, one over 1000. By Colleen Bush

A frog fish rests its fins on a rock

Photo: Ken Newkirk


Anyone who enjoys underwater photography, I strongly urge you to join an Anilao photography workshop.  For both novice, and experienced photographers a like, I am certain you will end the trip with a plethora of new knowledge, tips, and tricks. A combination of lecture discussions, daily image reviews, and a friendly competition with prizes at the end, ensures everyone stays on track with the goal of becoming a better photographer than when you arrived. Not to mention, the trips are always a lot of fun with fellow divers/photographers and amazing trip leaders! :)


Melibe colemani stands in stark contrast to the dark water

Photo: Sarah Vasend 

A yellow pygmy seahorse camouflaged in coral

Photo: Steve Harms 

A yellow fish illuminated by a green light

A yellow frogfish blending in with the surrounding rocks

Nikon D7000, 105mm, f18, one over 200. By Pete Pinkerton 

A hairy frogfish with a bright green coral in the background

ISO 100, f8.0, one over 60 - focus light behind green tunicate for backlit. By Lee Duckwall

A closeup of the macro life found in Anilao

A white nudibrach on a coral

A fish popping its head out of a whole

Canon G16 - single strobe - f 2.8 - 1-60sec ISO 100. By Livia Berthault

A small octopus rests on the rocky ocean floor

Photo: Amy Zamarut

A spotted nudibranch resting



Join some of our upcoming Anilao Photography Workshops!



Anilao Philippines Ultimate Photo Workshop | Dec 1 - 8, 2024


Anilao Philippines Ultimate Photo Workshop | Apr 20 - May 7, 2025

Anilao Philippines Ultimate Photo Workshop | Dec 7 - 14, 2025


Anilao Philippines Ultimate Photo Workshop | Apr 16 - May 3, 2026

Anilao Philippines Ultimate Photo Workshop | Dec 6 - 13, 2026




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