Lembeh, Indonesia - Underwater Photo Workshop

Originally published on Bluewater Travel, from my recent photo workshop in Lembeh, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The resort: NAD Lembeh as seen from the birds-eye of the drone

It had been a few years since Bluewater Photo ran a workshop in Lembeh, the ever popular macro destination located in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Trip co-leaders, Matt Sullivan and Erik Lukas had been brainstorming workshop ideas with a focus on macro photography, and after some internal discussion with the Bluewater Travel team it was decided that a return to Lembeh would happen. So the plans were put in place and the trip was scheduled for October, 2018.

Costasiella sp. nudibranch, more commonly known as Shaun the Sheep

The destination would be NAD Lembeh, a resort that would provide the ideal base of operations for our workshop. The resort offers well appointed rooms with A/C, a fantastic open air dining facility and a spacious camera room which would meet the needs of 20 photographers perfectly. NAD Lembeh also offers a 2:1 diver-to-guide ratio, which would assure our divers had access more subjects than they could ever hope for. Two spacious and comfortable boats would provide us with fast access to sites up and down the strait, all manned by one of the most attentive boat crews to be found anywhere.

As our guests arrived at Manado airport we were transported in comfort to the jetty in Bitung where the short boat ride across the Lembeh Strait took us to the resort. Once everyone was situated in their rooms the fun began with a short briefing to introduce everyone to the agenda for the 10-day workshop. The first evening was spent setting up dive and camera gear as we prepared for what was sure to be a productive workshop. Like all Bluewater Photo workshops, the daily schedule would be full, starting daily at 6:15am when we met for breakfast. Divers would then do up to four dives per day, as well as a midday workshop session and a daily afternoon image reviews.

Guests were treated to a range of high value targets such as Wonderpus octopus, Flamboyant cuttlefish, hairy frogfish, countless nudibranchs and much more, and this was just the first dive on the first day of the workshop. From there things only got better, and included a rare appearance by a Hairy Octopus early in the trip. It seemed that both boats were returning from the dives with everyone seeing long lists of very special and highly sought after subjects.

One thing became clear very early in the workshop...the group that was present in Lembeh were serious shooters who were producing stunning images right from the start. During the first image review, we were treated to some amazing shots, and each day the quantity and most importantly the quality of the images continued to improve. As the workshop went on, so too did the range of incredible images and subjects continue to amaze.

Among a very long list of highlights from the trip, the standout had to be a Blue Ring octopus with a clutch of eggs. A few of the guests were in the right place at the right time, as they were able to witness and photograph several of the young emerging from their eggs and swimming off on their own; truly a once-in-lifetime encounter and extremely rare photo opportunity.

No Bluewater Photo workshop would be complete without a friendly photo competition and this workshop was no exception. With the quality and quantity of images being so consistently high throughout the week, we decided to change the format of the competition to a shootout which would allow the guests to submit images made on a single day. This would really test the skill, and to some degree the luck of the group to see who would produce the winning images, and it was no easy task for Matt and Erik who judged the images to come up with winners. The results would be shared with the group on the final evening of the workshop where we would also have a presentation of the many incredible photos made by the group over the course of the trip.

A Hairy Frogfish (Antennarius striatus) lit with my Reefnet Fiber Optic snoot

The incredible team at NAD Lembeh went above and beyond to ensure our workshop was a success for everyone. Having such an attentive team of skilled dive guides and boat crews go a long way in helping ensure that the diving and photography is productive and fun for our guests. Even more important though is the great effort they make to ensure our cameras and dive gear are well looked after, not to mention our personal safety both in and out of the water. That attention to detail extends to the staff back at the resort. We cannot thank the amazing team at NAD Lembeh enough who kept us well fed, and made sure our every need was met at the resort.

To the amazing group of divers and photographers who attended the 2018 Bluewater Photo Lembeh Macro workshop, we thank you!