Every underwater photographer has a “bucket list” for “shooting” critters. Anilao, (the area of the Philippines known as the Mabini, Batangas), was the place for me to see some very small and tiny critters that have been on my list: pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, mantis shrimp with eggs, and reef fish in the juvenile stages of their lives.
Anilao is part of the Coral Triangle – recognized as one of our Planet’s greatest areas of bio-diversity – covering some 4 million square miles of the ocean and coral reefs. The area Anilao has over 700 species of nudibranchs – I did not see all of them, but was dazzled by the many species I did see.
I traveled with Backscatter’s 2017 digital macro workshop with Erin Quigley’s and Jim Decker’s “Anilao Underwater Photography Workshop.” This trip, sponsored by Backscatter and Under Exposures (Backscatter) (Under Exposures), was focused on macro photography. Our group had fantastic classroom sessions, postproduction help, and stayed at great resort: Crystal Blue Resort (Crystal Blue Resort). Mike Bartick, a world-renowned photographer in his own right, is the manager of Crystal Blue Resort. Mike was a great host also presented some excellent workshops showing his photo techniques. Erin, Jim, and Mike gave us wonderful help with our photo techniques: both topside and underwater. Crystal Blue Resort has an outstanding camera room, great food and service, and great dive guides and boat crews. On day #2 or our diving, we all experienced a 5.7 earthquake that did some damage to the resort as well as giving us all a unique experience. Earthquakes are quite common in this area, but I can now say I experienced an earthquake while diving: definitely a unique experience. A diver in the area, posted on YouTube his video of this earthquake – Underwater video
We dove from the traditional Philippine bangkas – they look a little intimidating because of their small size, but they are extremely sturdy and stable. A bamboo outrigger is attached to the wood hull of each bangka and divers enter the water with an easy back roll. At the end of each dive, you can hand up your camera and gear to the very reliable boat crew. Cameras were handled very carefully.