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.
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!
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.
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.
Sealife Micro 3.0 Camera and Light Gift Set Popular at DEMA Show
The new Micro 3.0 Underwater Camera & Light Gift Set from Sealife was very well received during the recent DEMA Show in New Orleans. The Set is an ideal item for the 2023 Fall travel and Holiday season.
The camera is the latest and third generation of its popular permanently-sealed Micro camera series. The camera is leak-proof with no O-rings to lube or maintain, so there is never a worry about flooding the camera. Like its forerunners, the Micro 3.0 features an ergonomic, compact design with easy to-use controls and menus. The camera has a 16-megapixel Sony® CMOS image sensor and offers 4K ultra-high-definition video. The camera’s ease of use starts with the three wide Piano key type buttons that are easy to locate and control, even with dive gloves on. The intuitive camera’s Easy Setup feature quickly guides you through the correct settings based on the shooting environment, depth and lighting accessories being used.
For a limited time through SeaLife’s USA dealers, SeaLife is offering the Micro 3.0 Camera & Light Limited Edition Gift Set that will include a Sea Dragon 2000F Photo Video Light.
The complete camera and light set price will be the same price as SeaLife’s Micro 3.0 Camera regular selling price (alone). Availability will be early November through SeaLife’s dealer network and while supplies last.
The camera & light gift set will also be available in other countries; however, prices may vary depending on location.
While the Micro 3.0 takes away the fuss and fiddling with camera controls that plague most underwater cameras, the Micro 3.0 does have an easy option for fine-tuning underwater images with manual white balance adjustments and the ability to capture images in RAW format, for those that want to edit their images later. The built-in wide angle 100° lens allows the diver to get close to the subjects while still keeping everything in the picture. The Micro 3.0 offers WiFi sharing ability, so you can wirelessly preview, download, and share pictures & videos to a smart phone or tablet with the free Micro 3+ app available at Google Play or Apple App stores. The Micro 3.0 “Explorer” Gift Set includes the Micro 3.0 camera, the Sea Dragon 2000F photo/video light, Flex-Connect Micro tray and Grip, light battery & charger, wrist strap, USB adapter, 3’/90cm USB cable, camera pouch & lens cap.
Find out more at www.sealife-cameras.com/micro-3-0-sets.
Dive into Festive Fun With PADI
Marina Scuba School’s Santa Splash Discover Scuba Experience
Join the festive fun at Marina Scuba School’s Santa Splash on the 16th of December in Crosby. While the real Santa may be busy, Marina Scuba School’s staff members will be dressed up in festive attire for a 2-hour DSD with a Christmas twist.
Open to adults, families, and children over the age of 8, this festive dive is jam-packed with Christmas treats.
The festive fun begins at Marina Scuba School, where you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome and some delicious Santa snacks. During the 2-hour Discover Scuba Diving session, you’ll have the chance to learn essential skills required for scuba diving, all while searching for some Christmas goodies hidden beneath the surface.
This holly jolly dive experience takes place on the 16th of December in Crosby and only costs £40 per participant.
To book this exciting dive contact the dive centre by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vobster Quay in Bristol is thrilled to announce the return of the Vobster Santas, a spectacular yuletide diving event that promises to make waves for a cause. This festive fun is open to all levels of divers and invites participants to don their Santa gear and dive into the holiday season in style.
Scheduled for the 10th of December, the gates to Vobster Quay will open at 7:30 am, with a comprehensive dive brief at 09:30 am, leading up to a mass dive at 10:00 am. The goal? To surpass the previous record of 185 Santa divers in the water simultaneously, promising a visually spectacular and undoubtedly jolly spectacle.
Vobster Santas isn’t just about the joy of diving; it’s a mission with heart. The event serves as a vital fundraising opportunity for two esteemed charities, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Help for Heroes. Both hold special significance for Vobster Quay, and participants are encouraged to secure sponsorships through JustGiving to support these worthy causes.
Since its inception, Vobster Santas has successfully raised over £40,000 for these charities. This year, the bar is set higher, and Vobster Quay is committed to leading the charge. To kick off the fundraising efforts, Vobster Quay has generously donated £1000 to each charity, igniting the holiday spirit of giving.
For more information, sponsorship opportunities, and to download the event poster, visit: Vobster Quay – VOBSTER SANTAS 2023
Photos: Jason Brown
Blogs2 months ago
Discover Peace and Tranquillity in Egypt’s Eastern Desert and its Amazing Red Sea
News1 month ago
Emperor Echo liveaboard sustains “irreversible damage” in lightning storm at Fury Shoals
Blogs3 months ago
A Flying Visit to Nusa Penida, Bali
Blogs3 weeks ago
My week on Scuba Scene: simply the best Red Sea liveaboard experience
News2 months ago
2023 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition Announced
Marine Life & Conservation2 months ago
Book Review: The Lives of Octopuses and Their Relatives
Blogs1 week ago
Unveiling Indonesia’s Dive Gem: Welcome to Bunaken Oasis, Where Adventure Meets Luxury
Equipment2 months ago
Oceanic+ Now Has Freedive Mode on Apple Watch Ultra