Live Reports: Wetpixel/Mustard Macro Workshop 2018

Days 4,5 and 6

A cell tower on the island of Sulawesi got knocked out on Tuesday night, which in turn took down Lembeh Resort’s internet connection. Hence the lack of reports from the Wetpixel/Alex Mustard Workshop. The internet is now back up and running, and we are back in business!

Strong currents on Police Pier!

Suffice to say that that workshop has been continuing, with the participants, Alex, photo-pro Fred and I diving, photographing, editing and sharing images, ideas and techniques. The evening image review sessions are showing a stunning body of work. Lembeh is very critter rich, with plentiful subjects of all types on the reefs and muck sites. In addition, Lembeh Resort’s guides are an invaluable resource, locating hard to find critters and assisting the participants by holding snoots and ensuring that the subjects are suitable for the focal lengths of the lenses being used.

Each morning, Alex has given a presentation. On Tuesday, he started to outline specific lighting techniques, such as cross-strobes, inward lighting, and backlighting. Wednesday was further elaboration in this, looking at using snoot lighting and other tools to eliminate distracting backgrounds. Today, he looked at wide angle macro; bringing the background back into the image by using fisheye lenses in small dome ports to get really close to larger subjects. This is complicated to effectively light and the strobes must reach around the dome and be able to light subjects very close to it. Alex mentioned that smaller camera systems like M4/3 have significant advantages when used for this.

Team picture!

Each day, after Alex’s talks we all boarded the boats and headed out to go diving. Today our boat dived Hairball 2 and Batu Sandar.

Our guides Abner and Agus managed to find a sea fan with pygmy seahorses in it at 12 meters (these are often significantly deeper). Other species found and photographed included ornate ghost pipefish, wonderpus, mimic octopus, thorny seahorse, many nudibranch species, shrimps of all varieties and many frogfish.

Something of note is the number of bennies of all varieties that seem to be present in the Straits at the moment. They are literally everywhere.

After the 2 dives, we returned to Lembeh Resort for lunch and card/battery changes. Many people also opt to swap lenses at the point too. By varying focal lengths, a variety of images types is possible, making for a varied portfolio.

An afternoon dive follows, with our boat visitings site called Bianca, which is also used by the resorts in Lembeh as the site for dusk mandarin dives. Once again it provided a plethora of subjects for the workshop participants to practice on.

The boats have been going out every evening for a night dive too. The “night shift” on Lembeh’s sites is fascinating with a whole new bunch of critters emerging after dark.

After the night dive, a quick shower and then dinner!

Image reviews followed, which are incredibly helpful as they provide personalized technique pointers both for shooting and post-processing. In a change in format, tonight each participant selected a mini portfolio of 3 images that they wanted feedback on. They were all simply stunning, and it is amazing to see how far the photographer’s skills have developed. Eating, drinking and (occasionally) sleeping underwater photography with a group of like-minded individuals really pays incredible dividends.

As long as the internet holds out, stand by for another installment tomorrow.

  1. Day 1.
  2. Day 2.
  3. Day 3.
  4. Days 4, 5, 6.
  5. Day 7.
  6. Workshop 2-Day 1.
  7. Workshop 2-Day 2.
  8. Workshop 2-Day 3 and 4.