Underwater Photography in the Philippines
Guest Blog by Phil North
Divemaster Phil North, from Dive Worldwide shares his top destinations in the Philippines for underwater photography.
It is possible to record memories and moments almost anywhere underwater. However, some destinations are undoubtedly better than others for underwater photography, while a select few are truly outstanding.
Many factors determine whether a destination is suitable for budding underwater photographers, but a variety of colourful, photogenic subjects is key. The type of dive site also plays a big role, while warm tropical water certainly helps. Depending on the subject, good visibility can be important, while the attitude and facilities of the dive centre also play a significant part.
There is no doubt that the Philippines is a brilliant destination for underwater photographers of all levels. If you’re looking to take great images or improve your skills, it should be one of your top choices. Let’s take a moment to unpack exactly why that is the case.
Representing the northern tip of the fabled coral triangle, the Philippines is blessed with wonderful biodiversity. The area is home to over 500 species of coral, at least 2,500 species of fish, innumerable habitats, six of the world’s seven sea turtles, manta rays, thresher sharks, whale sharks and more.
For underwater photographers, this biodiversity translates to a near limitless choice of subjects. If you hover on a reef and take the time to truly attune yourself to your surroundings, you’re bound to find a great many photographic opportunities. Macro photography enthusiasts will delight in the array of magical smaller marine life. Frogfish, cuttlefish, nudibranch, ghost pipefish, octopus, shrimp, anemonefish, and dragonets barely scratch the surface of the opportunities on offer. While most famous for macro photography, wide-angle opportunities abound too. Stunning reef scenes are common while many locations have consistent sightings of larger marine life, including some truly iconic species.
Amazing choice of locations
Not only is there a diversity of marine life, but there is a wonderful variety of locations to choose from too. Over 7,000 islands make up the Philippines, creating a wealth of options for scuba divers. The best location for you will depend on what it is you want to photograph, or at the very least, the style you would like to shoot in.
Jump on a liveaboard to Tubbataha and you’ll be treated to some of the best coral reef diving in the world with plenty of pelagic encounters to frame in your wide-angle lens. Anilao and Dumaguete are two of the most famous destinations for underwater photography in the world, especially (but not entirely) for smaller marine life. Other destinations offer much for eager photographers too. Malapascua has a wonderful variety of marine life, including regular sightings of the elusive thresher shark, while Anda, in eastern Bohol, is gaining a reputation as one of the country’s top diving and underwater photography spots.
Many of these locations – particularly those in the central Visayas region – can be combined, so you can experience more than one location on any one trip, greatly increasing your photographic opportunities.
Anyone who has tried their arm at underwater photography knows it’s a tricky (albeit rewarding) pursuit. All types of photography require patience, skill and care. However, underwater photography – without the right conditions – can become all but impossible. Trying to master your camera and your subject in surge, driving current, or poor visibility often renders the exercise largely fruitless.
Thankfully, the conditions in the Philippines really lend themselves to the needs of underwater photographers. With warm tropical water and a variety of locations – most of which are blessed with calm conditions and consistently good visibility – your chances of finding ideal conditions to take excellent underwater images are very good indeed. And with coral reefs starting just below the surface at many dive sites, at very easy depths, you’ll have more time on your dive to snap that perfect shot.
Superb dive centres and resorts
While you may get the credit for your award-winning fish portrait, there is more than one person behind any fantastic underwater shot. You stand on the shoulders of all those that made it possible, from the eagle-eyed dive guide who spotted your subject, to the dive centre or resort that has carefully thought of all your needs and prepared accordingly. These factors are often underestimated, but the small touches make a big difference.
The Philippines has been a tried and trusted destination for underwater photographers for many years, and many dive centres are now well set up for the task. They have staff who understand the requirements and care for your camera set up, and boats with dedicated rinse tanks, storage areas, camera rooms, charging stations, and more. Knowing that you are in good hands leaves you free to concentrate on your passion and get maximum enjoyment from your dives.
Dive Worldwide’s Recommended diving trips to the Philippines
Stay in two luxury dive and spa resorts in the Visayas – Atmosphere Resort & Spa and Amun Ini. This island-hopping itinerary takes you from Dumaguete to Bohol, both popular locations with underwater photographers due to the superb coral reefs, fascinating critters, and diverse marine life.
When to go: Jan – Dec
Duration: 13 days
Find out more or request a travel plan.
Explore everything from macro life to pelagic megafauna on this exciting underwater safari. Sealife encounters may include various species of brightly coloured nudibranch, thresher sharks, or even whale sharks!
When to go: Jan – Dec
Duration: 17 days
Find out more or request a travel plan.
Visit the remote Tubbataha Reef National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which requires a liveaboard to access. The diving here is truly world-class, with a chance to see hammerheads, reef sharks, turtles and manta rays. The gigantic gorgonians and vast barrel sponges add an entrancing and colourful backdrop to your images.
When to go: Feb – Jun
Duration: 10 days
Find out more, view departure dates, or request a travel plan.
Are you looking to improve your underwater photography or arrange a trip to enjoy taking underwater images? Get in touch with the friendly Dive Worldwide team for first-hand advice on your next diving holiday to the Philippines. They offer a superb range of resort and liveaboard options. Visit the website, send an enquiry, or call the expert team on 01962 302 087.
Midlands Diving Chamber donates £20k to Bite-Back
Hyperbaric and dive medical experts, Midlands Diving Chamber (MDC), has underpinned its long-term support of Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation with a one-off donation of £20,000, as the Rugby-based diving doctors wind down the charitable side of its operation.
The donation represents the single biggest financial contribution made to Bite-Back, delivering a huge boost to its campaigns to end the UK trade in shark products.
Spokesperson for Midlands Diving Chamber, Sally Cartwright, said: “For years we’ve admired and supported the ground-breaking work that Bite-Back is doing to save, protect and celebrate sharks. It’s a genuine pleasure to help ensure it stays at the forefront of shark conservation in the UK.”
Midland Diving Chamber first supported the charity at the inaugural Bite-Back at Cancer event in 2007 and then annually for the next six years. It even hosted its own James Bond-themed party on the Thames to fundraise for the marine NGO.
Campaign director for Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said: “We can’t thank MDC enough for its continued support and now for this massive contribution to our pioneering shark conservation campaigns. It makes us very proud that the country’s premier diving medical experts have chosen to back our campaigns that extend from parliament to primary schools. This financial windfall will allow us to continue to lead the shark conservation agenda in the UK and deliver measurable shark conservation breakthroughs to keep the oceans healthy.”
Bite-Back’s No Fin To Declare campaign to end the UK’s import and export of shark fins is now just months away from achieving Royal Ascent into law and, earlier this month it launched a free 56-page teaching resource for Key Stage 2 & 3 students on the importance of sharks and the threats they face.
Midlands Diving Chamber is based at St. Cross Hospital in Rugby and operates a hyperbaric decompression chamber offering NHS funded recompression to divers with Decompression Illness (DCI) together with other Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) treatments. Any diver with medical concerns should contact MDC on either 01788 579 555 or 07931 472 602.
Find out more about Bite-Back at http://www.bite-back.com/
Marine Life & Conservation
Watch The Real Watergate from Live Ocean Foundation (Trailer)
Sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke established Live Ocean Foundation out of their deep concern for health of the ocean and the life in it. Through their sport they champion action for the ocean, taking this message to the world.
Many of the issues the ocean faces are out of sight, but the science is clear, the ocean is in crises from multiple stressors; climate change, pollution and over-fishing. We’re not moving fast enough, not even close.
Live Ocean Foundation supports exceptional marine scientists, innovators and communicators who play a vital role in the fight for a healthy future.
Thanks to generous core donors who cover their operating costs, 100% of public donations go directly towards the marine conservation projects they support.
Find out more at https://liveocean.com/foundation/
WATCH THE REAL WATERGATE AT https://www.realwatergate.com/
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