Today was our second day diving the world-famous Lembeh Strait in North Sulawesi. We’re staying at Lembeh Resort, whose diving is run by Critters@Lembeh.


Lembeh is arguably the critter capital of the world, and heaven for macro enthusiasts, underwater photographers and videographers. The critters list is deep, with many exotic species making appearances. Most of the macro dive sites are very close by, while there are some reefs a bit further away by boat. But we’re here for macro during these days of the Best of Southeast Asia, not reefs. Shooting on sand is a challenge for most photographers, as many of the compositional element found on reefs are lacking. But when there are as many fascinating creatures as in Lembeh, photographers are the first in the water.


If you haven’t done much sand or muck diving, read the Underwater Photography Guide‘s article ‘A Photographer’s Guide to Muck Diving‘, written by expert critter photographer, Mike Bartick. Many of the critters here in Lembeh are very, very small, so make sure to be prepared with the right photo gear:

  • Strobe(s):  The YS-D1 is one of our favorites.
  • Focus Light:  I’m using the I-Torch Pro6, however I-Torch and other brands carried by Bluewater Photo make a number of small, more compact focus lights that will double as video lights.
  • Diopter:  A diopter is essentially a magnifying glass, and will come in hand with small subjects like emperor shrimp, nudibranchs the Lembeh Sea Dragon and more. Learn more about diopters.


Aer Bajo 2

This was a great sand dive site packed with critters. We were kept busy with flamboyant cuttlefish, a mimic octopus, nudibranchs, pipfish and more.


TK 2

A nice sand dive with a garden of xenia coral. After descending, we were soon photographing countless ribbon eels in various life stages (black, blue/yellow, yellow), cuttlefish, nudibranchs, ornate ghost pipefish and an orange painted frogfish.