DPG is made by underwater photographers, for underwater photographers. The reason we work so hard to bring you the best quality articles and most up to date news every day is because we love underwater photography and want to share our passion . So while most of our time is spent back at the offices in NYC, we do get out quite a bit to do what we love most - take photographs underwater.
For me, personally, it was one of the best years of diving and shooting of my life. It started off in Mexico, where I spent a few days with DPG's Jason Heller diving the Cenotes of Riviera Maya before heading to Isla Mujeres to lead a DPG Expedition to photograph the amazing Atlantic sailfish.
Both portions of the trip were a big success and I immediately fell in love with diving in Mexico. The cenotes were unlike any underwater photography experience I ever had. The light in the caverns is as thrilling as any ocean predator. Additionally, after three years of helping each other plan trips, and planning countless trips for DPG editors, it was the first time Jason and I were able to dive and photograph together - which was a lot of fun.
The excitement continued in Isla Mujeres, where I lead a small group on a DPG expedition to photograph the illusive Atlantic sailfish. We got lucky, and hit a few baitball jackpots in the beginning of the trip. At times dozens of sailfish, the ocean's fastest fish, were buzzing around us feeding on the migrating Brazilian sardines. All agreed it was a show unlike any other.
After a few months of being landlocked attending trade shows, I did my first editorial assignment of the year in the Silver Bank near the Dominican Republic. The Silver Bank is one of the prime areas for photographing humpback whales, and Turks and Caicos Aggressor spends January-April there offering a great chance to get shots of the amazing mammal. Poor vis during my week (which, apparently is incredibly unlucky, and often the vis is great) meant difficult photography conditions, but just seeing the humpbacks underwater was a surreal experience. An animal that size is incomprehensible at first, and it takes a lot of time to get used to the fact that they are real.
I then headed over to the Philippines for a few weeks for some real reef diving. I have done a lot of diving in South East Asia, but hadn't been to the Philippines in a few years, so it was great to head back. I started off my trip in Dumaguete, in an area called Dauin. I was based at the beautiful Atmosphere resort, and did some of the best muck diving of my life.
I then went over to Cebu to catch a ride on the luxurious Philippine Siren, which would take me to Southern Leyte to search for whale sharks. I wasn't so lucky with the sharks, but did continue to reacquaint myself with the many joys of macro photography. One site in particular, Padre Burgos Pier, captured my heart. I spent 4 hours one day under the pier.
In May, I stayed closer to home and went over to Curacao to do some gear reviews for DPG. It was great to do reef diving in the Caribbean again, try out some new gear, and, most of all, dive with my good friends and colleagues Joe Tepper and Keri Wilk. We were busy, but we had a great time.
The peaceful reef diving was fun, but the summer meant some more exciting big animal diving. In July, I lead a DPG Expedition in South Africa to try and catch the Sardine Run. We had two weeks in the water, and a microlight in the air searching for the sardines, but it seemed like the fish decided to crawl instead of run this year. None the less, being on the Wild Coast in July is exciting, and we shared many amazing moments and sights, including thousands of dolphins, breaching humpbacks, and diving gannets. We also encountered an unique, but unfortunate sight -- a dying humpback. No one had ever seen a whale like this before, and we were in the water with it during what must of been some its final breaths.
Just a few weeks after The Sardine Run, I was back in the water for another DPG Expedition in the Galapagos on the Galapagos Aggressor. This may have been the most exciting diving I have ever done, with non stop shark action all the time. Hammerheads, silkies, galapagos sharks, eagle rays and even a few whale sharks. If you haven't been to the Galapaogs, and are into big animal diving, stop reading this and book your trip now.
In November, after a fun time at DEMA, I headed back to Curacao for the Picture Perfect Curacao Underwater Photographer of the Year Competition, which was a lot of fun. It was good to spend some time with a group of hardcore, passionate underwater photographers.
I then ended my year leading another DPG Expedition to Raja Ampat and Triton Bay. It was my first time to the region, and it lived up to its reputation. You know the diving is good when it's almost impossible to find a spot on the reef that's suitable to place two fingers to steady yourself for a shot. The trip reconfirmed that Indo is still the Mecca.
All in all, it was a great year of underwater photography for me. Perhaps the best part, however, were the people I met a long the way. In 2012, the journey continues, and I hope to run into you all underwater.
Fantasea FG7X II
Ikelite Housing for Nikon D500
I-DiveSite Venom 35s