Capturing Critters in Lembeh 2016: The Power of an Underwater Photography Workshop

By Sarah Wormald

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Image by Reidar Opem

The Lembeh Strait in Indonesia is known as the “Critter Capital of the World” for good reason. It is home to an abundance of some of the planet’s most rare and unusual marine life, which also makes it a “Mecca” for underwater photographers.

Lembeh offers easy diving conditions and no shortage of weird and wonderful photography subjects, making it a great destination for an underwater photography workshop. This year’s 5th annual “Capturing Critters in Lembeh” weeklong workshop, hosted by Lembeh Resort, saw the return of photography and videography professionals Steve Fish, Hergen Spalink and Kerri Bingham. New to the event was the addition of an optional four-night advanced extension.

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Lembeh Resort’s on-site professionals, Sascha Janson (Photography Professional) and Dimpy Jacobs (Marine Biologist), formed part of the team. With 12 participants and 5 professionals plus the addition of Lembeh Resort’s Dive Guides to assist with spotting, the workshop provided a unique and personalised experience. With such low ratios of participants to professionals, it also meant that there was no “queuing” for critters and no jostling or pressure underwater to just shoot and move on.

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When asked about the content of the workshop and what type of photographer it was aimed at, Photo Pro Kerri Bingham commented, “Capturing Critters in Lembeh aims to give each individual participant the opportunity to take their photography to the next level, regardless of what their starting point is. This year we had beginners with point and shoot (compact cameras) using single strobes, through to shooters using large DSLR rigs with macro lenses, extension ports, tele converters, multiple strobes, lights and accessories. We are here to facilitate making sure that each participant takes away from the workshop whatever it is they want to take away from it. We start by covering the essentials such as aperture, shutter speeds, lighting and focus which we then build on when looking at more advanced techniques and effects. This year Sascha also introduced super macro and creative effects and Steve Fish included videography.”

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Image by Marcelo Simoes

Throughout the workshop the participants attended two to three presentations daily and made 3 dives a day in the Lembeh Strait in addition to a day trip to Bangka Island for wide angle practice. Presentations were hosted by all five Pros and key topics included tutoring in macro concepts, macro settings, lighting, composition, super macro, creative effects, Light Room editing, video editing, macro accessories and lenses, backgrounds, negative space and wide angle.

Some of the underwater highlights from this year’s workshop included the newly discovered pug-nose pipefish, a pod of pilot whales at the end of the Lembeh Strait, countless frogfish on almost every dive, an innumerable number of nudibranchs, blue ring octopus, coconut octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, pygmy cuttlefish, tiger shrimps, hairy shrimps, Ambon scorpionfish, three species of pygmy seahorses, harlequin crabs, decorator crabs, upside down jellyfish crabs, ghost pipefish and the list goes on - this is the Lembeh Strait after all!

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Image by Marcelo Simoes

Photography workshops at Lembeh Resort are a rare opportunity to spend extended time with professionals in a supportive and encouraging environment that is totally geared towards your own personal development. Day by day, each participant witnessed dramatic improvements in the images they were producing, many of which were incredible.

Participant Jessica Hardy came to the workshop as a “newbie” to underwater photography and brought with her a new Sony RX100 MK IV camera with macro lens, Nauticam housing and two S2000 INON strobes. Jessica commented at the end of the second day, “The first day seemed like a lot to take on board but already today things are getting easier thanks to what we covered yesterday and the additional explanations that I received in my one on one session. Today I produced much better pictures and I can’t wait to see what I manage to capture as the week goes on”. When we caught up with Jessica again on the final day she said, “It’s incredible that I have achieved images that I am so proud of in seven days. At Lembeh Resort my needs were met before I even knew that I had them. It has been an amazing experience.”

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Image by Jason Marks

Morten Lund, manager of Lembeh Resort added, “Here at Lembeh Resort we aim to deliver exceptional service and we are proud to have hosted yet another successful workshop. We are delighted with the images that have been produced by our participants”. Capturing Critters in Lembeh will be returning to Lembeh Resort in 2017 (December 6th – 13th) with Photographers Alex Tattersall, Martin Edge and Ethan Daniels. For more information about next year’s event click HERE.

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Ocean Geographic Explorer (OGX) is a diving adventure resource with a special focus on marine photography and ocean conservation. Our content is divided up into six primary categories: Travel, Sea Science,  Equipment, Photography &Video, Conservation, and Lifestyle. We endeavor be a portal for people with all levels of interest in the marine environment  to learn about and become part of a community of like-minded ocean lovers who enjoy sharing their knowledge of and experiences in our fascinating ocean world.

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