Text & Images by Hergen Spalink & Kerri Bingham
The name Lembeh Strait triggers images of fascinating critters and unlimited macro photography possibilities, but increasingly more photographers are realizing they can go wide in this muck paradise.
Having lived and dived in Lembeh for over 3 years, I think we tried just about every lens we had, just to see what happened. We loved taking our wide-angle rig along, as the looks from the others on the boat were priceless in and of themselves. A look of concern would spread across the other photographers. "Are we going to a wide-angle site?" they would ask. We would simply reply "Nope" and smile.
One would think that finding subjects in Lembeh that lend themselves well to wide angle photography would be challenging, but it actually ended up giving a unique set of images that often show more of the environment where these oft-photographed critters live in addition to giving a sense of scale.
Although there are several conventional "wide angle" dive sites in the Lembeh Area (including some truly fantastic ones), to shoot wide angle of critters, a small (6") or mini-dome (4") is required. The optics of a mini-dome limit you to fisheye lenses.
I did shoot some of these images with a rectilinear zoom (the Canon 10-22mm EF-S), but you will notice that the edges are very blurred, an effect that may be desirable in some cases. The high depth of field of a wide angle lens, as compared to macro lenses, means that you can shoot at a fairly fast aperture. This lower aperture will compensate for the lower shutter speeds necessary in the generally darker water of Lembeh to get proper background exposure.
The large critters are the most obvious choices such as frogfish, larger octopus, and cuttlefish. Other creatures, especially those that live in unique surroundings also made for some intriguing compositions.
In addition to the critters, there are several stunning reefs, especially at the northernmost point and along the "outside" or east coast of the island. Covered with soft corals, these current swept dives can be quite exciting and fish-rich.
Although shooting wide angle may result in some extraordinary images, it does tends to yield less results per dive in Lembeh than shooting conventional macro. The solution? Bring two rigs.
Fantasea FG7X II
Ikelite Housing for Nikon D500
I-DiveSite Venom 35s