Alex Tattersall's Photography Workshop Dumaguete April 2016

A group of lovely divers with impressively full heads of hair. Even Ken at 80+ is more gifted of hair than me! - by Alex Tattersall

  • The build up to this trip was like every time, all of us coming out of a European winter, just dying for some 'hydro-therapy'. The excitement built and I found myself dusting off my scuba gear and wiping the cobwebs from my camera housing several weeks before we were due to fly.

    Packing is always an excitig time, I don't know why I see people complaining about this on social media, for me it is all part of the ritual. One of the things our workshops offer is for every guest to try out some of the latest underwater gadgets. As we import and sell many of these, half of my baggage allowance tends to go towards bringing all these toys with me. Here you can see some of the toys I brought along, some new diopters, lenses, lighting tools, luminescence torches, off camera strobe setup....

  • Our all new and luxurious Airbus A380 Etihad flight from London to Abu Dhabi took off only a third full so we were able to stretch ourselves out for the first leg. The second leg from Abu Dhabi to Manila was a contrast, as many overseas Philippine workers made the journey home from Abu Dhabi.

    Arriving in Manila, early evening, we headed to our overnight hotel (and rather dangerously Casino), the Midas, where everything we touched turned to gold. After a few beers in the hotel lobby and a fine dinner with our local Manilan guest visitor, Evie Go, the jet lag kicked in and some of us realised it was still only early afternoon in the UK. This energy boost saw the hardcore head out to the 'City of Dreams' megacasino and on to a couple of local bars.

    I heard rumour that some of our group didn't return to the hotel until gone 6am (11pm of course UK time!). Our pickup for the internal flight to Dumaguete arrived at 11am and we headed out into the stifling heat, some of the group looking decidedly fresher than others, but all still present and correct (ish).

    The internal flight was only just over an hour, a good chance for some to catch up on some sleep and for others to start discussing UW photography.

    We arrived at Dumaguete airport late afternoon and were transported to the Atlantis resort, a brief 45 minute transit through the vibrant and buzzing university town of Dumaguete. A brief time to settle into the resort with a fruit juice and welcome shoulder massage and then it was dinner time, the first of many exceptional meals during our brief stay. After a brief introduction to the trip schedule and some serious camera fettling, and an early (ish) night it was for all, everyone anticipating the next morning's diving.

  • Conditions throughout the week were fantastic, flat calm, warm water and there is something about banka diving that is incredibly relaxing, although we were getting our fair share of time underwater. The group was 14 so we spilt off into two boats, originally the larger banka being for the hardcore 'dive dive dive' and the smaller speedboat for those wanted a more relaxed time. These boats reversed their roles over the week as the smaller boat groups were more efficient at getting into the water. In contrast to Lembeh with very low diver to guide averages, Dumaguete doesn't seem as set up for this, so developing our own ability to understand where interesting subjects may be becomes more important. Fortunately there is such a rich wealth of marine life in Dumaguete, that finding a beautiful subject is not a real challenge.

    The first three days of the workshop, we had formal talks on finding and selecting suitable subjects for your setup, and thinking creatively to produce original shots. We also explored methods to eliminate unattractive backgrounds, with the dark sand of Dumaguete shores. For the remainder of our time, we had nightly critique of some of the days images and most were keen to contribute to some useful discussion. As we were able to revisit the same sites and often the same subjects repeatedly, discussion and ideas allowed us all to think about different approaches the on the following days.

    We try to foster as much a possible a non-competitive supportive environment for all to advance their understanding from each other as well as from me. Technical and creative hands-on support is continuous throughout the trips. We dive for photography, maximum time underwater in the most benign water conditions. We choose sites which are shallow and productive, such as the most amazing Ginama-an (man-made) artificial reef made from old tyres. This reef was laid some 20 years previously in 15-20 metres of water and is teeming with subjects, large and small. The layout and spacing of the tyres means it is relatively easy to position oneself without damaging any living residents.

    Every day was a feast for the senses both underwater and on land and the standard of the group's photos over the trip was exceptional. We also had Claudia with us who was filming throughout the trip, her video of the week brought back very fond memories for all of us. Enjoy some of our collective images and remember, we are going back next March, with the bonus of 3 days in Moalboal on the way!

    For details of all of Alex' up coming workshops please see go to the Workshops page.

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