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An Underwater Photographer's Guide to Southeast Asia
 August 10, 2008 @ 02:00 AM (EST)

After 3 months in the field, and a brief stint manning the DivePhotoGuide booth at the Malaysian Dive Expo (MIDE) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I am finally home and in the process of preparing a series of articles about South East Asia, sometimes referred to as the coral triangle and the most bio-diverse marine ecosystems in the world. Therefore, this is also one of the most productive regions for underwater photographer and video. Of course in no way is this nearly a complete guide to Southeast Asia (that would take years!), but rather some recommended destinations to dive and shoot.



I will be providing comprehensive trip reports on the diving and photo opportunities in each location. I was fortunate enough to stay at some of the top resorts in each destination, and the articles will include some information on the resorts and their facilities. We intend for these articles to be fairly different from other trip reports. I plan to concentrate on all aspects of my trip, including some that are often overlooked, solely from an underwater photographer’s point of view – How was the camera room set up? How large were the rinse buckets on the boat? etc. This vital information is often ignored by non photographers, so I hope to cover all the idiosyncratic requirements that are very important for underwater photographers and videographers to keep top of mind while traveling..

You will see that a lot of my images are macro shots, with little coral around them. The reason for this is simple - I am very interested in the seemingly barren benthic environments that nurture a surprising amount of life. It is here that I found the smaller, interesting and charismatic critters that make you scratch your head and ask - “why?” It is my intention for each article to be informative by answering not only what and who, but also the how and why of the marine biology behind these environments.
Underwater photography stargazer Lembeh Strait
Did you know that stargazers (family Uranoscopidae) are represented by 50 species in 8 genre? This amazing animal was one of two species I found while searching the benthic environments of the Coral Triangle.
I will be covering the following destinations in the upcoming weeks. Each article will have a link back to this main page, where you can access each article as it goes live online.

Bali, Indonesia with AquaMarine Diving-Bali
Puerto Galera, Philippines with El Galleon Resort/Asia Diver
Palawan, Philippines with Club Paradise/Dugong Dive Center
Lembeh Straits, Indonesia with Lembeh Resort
Manado, Indonesia with Minahasa Lagoon Resort
Sipadan/Mabul/Kapalai, Malaysia with Borneo Divers

Plane
Here is a just a preview of my trips in numbers:
Number of plane rides: 20
Number of times I got hassled because of all my gear: 20
Number of countries visited: 4
Number of species I put on a “want to see list” leaving: 97
Number of species I saw on that list: 96
Number of species I was blown away by that I had no idea existed: More than 100
Number of times I ran out of air: 1
Number of triggerfish that attacked me: 2
Number of times my dive buddy aborted the dive because of a triggerfish: 1
Number of days in the field: 78
Number of dives: 193
Number of dives I saw something new or interesting 193
Number of dull moments: 0
Number of “find the coin in the bowl of flour” contests I entered: 1
Number of “find the coin in the bowl of flour” contests I lost: 1
Number of times I had to call Jason to help me in the field from the other side of the world: 20
Number of times I saw eagle rays: 3
Number of times I saw eagle rays and had my macro lens on: 3
Number of amazing people I met in the field and was instrumental to the success of this trip: countless- but here are a few:

Andy Sallmon-Professional photographer

Annabel Thomas- AquaMarine Diving-Bali
Jeff Mullins-Professional photographer/mentor
Aaron Wong-Professional photographer (and life saver)
Gunther Diechman-Professional photographer and manager of Alliance Diving.
Allan Nash- Asia Divers
Dirk Fahrenbach- Dugong Dive Center
Ralph Winkelhausen- Dugong Dive Center
Danny Charlton- Lembeh Resort
Dave Behrens-Marine Naturalist
Cassandra Dragon – Minahasa Lagoon
Tim Hochgrebe - Underwater.com.au
Clement Lee - Sabah Tourism/ Borneo Divers

Jenny Collisiter-Reef & Rainforest

Thanks again, everyone. Without your help and support the trip would not have been as productive.
For any readers who are looking for ideas for your next dive trip, South East Asia is full of them, feel free to bookmark this page, and within the upcoming weeks, you'll find links to each of the destinations I've visited with a complete report on each. I certainly hope to bump into many of you as I return to these destinations in the future. Happy Diving

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Rusty Donner
Aug 22, 2008 11:49 AM
Rusty Donner wrote:
Can't wait to see your future reports. Great pics.
Rusty
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