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.