The thing I most want to do at the end of a cold winter in Tasmania, is head to some beautiful tropical island and go diving for a week! The next best thing, is undertake a photography course. Well, I was lucky enough to do both of these, in Lembeh, Sulawesi.
I stumbled across the Underwater Tribe website as I was looking for some lightroom tutorials to edit some of my diving photographs at the start of the year. I still hadn’t planned my Tasmanian winter getaway by this stage, so I scrolled through their website. The Photo week looked like too good an opportunity to pass up, three fantastic photographers, Mike Veitch, Luca Vaime and Doug Sloss, in a beautiful resort, NAD Lembeh.
Flights, and workshop booked, I dragged myself through a mild Tasmanian winter, with the sweet optimism of a week long, tropical holiday at the end of it. After 22 hours in airports and planes, 2 hours across Northern Sulawesi’s roads and 15 minutes by boat, I arrived at NAD Lembeh. Over afternoon tea we were introduced to NAD Lembeh’s manager, Sonja, the three instructors, Mike, Luca and Doug, and Stenli, our dive guide.
A typical day from that point consisted of an eat, dive, eat, dive, nap, eat, dive, eat, workshop, eat, sleep. Honestly, a SCUBA crazy ladies perfect holiday. The diving, oh the diving was paradise! It is not like your typical tropical holiday, coral reefs, lots of fish etc, instead it is more like a permanent treasure hunt. The black sands of Lembeh Strait had so many critters hiding I lost count of what I had and hadn’t seen by day two. Tiny nudibranchs half the size of your little finger nail, various species of frogfish pretending not to be there, as well as octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish and seahorses, just to name a few. I did a blackwater dive and a night dive over two nights (as three dives a day just wasn’t enough), and was amazed by the animals that came out. I think one of the most memorable and scariest things I saw on these dives however was a hunting bobbit worm. The voracity with which this terrifying creature consumed its prey was chilling, even if it was only a couple of centimeters across.
The afternoon workshops were fascinating. Personally, I got the most out of Doug Sloss’ workshops about editing images in Lightroom, but the other instructors also ran workshops on composition, lighting techniques and more advanced techniques including snooting (maybe next time) and bokeh. Thankfully, we were gifted with copies of all the workshops, there was so much to learn I am still sifting through the information.
Having a dive guide who could basically take you straight to an interesting subject, and then instructors who would assist you in taking the shot in situ, massively improved my photography over the week. I was sad to leave the island, and all the funny little critters, but I am fairly certain I’ll be back again soon. If you want to mix having a tropical dive holiday with learning A LOT about underwater macro photography, book in for 2019’s photo week.