UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP WITH MARK WEBSTER

Maluku Divers, Ambon  22 February to 1 March 2014

 
 

Mucking About in the Molluca’s

During the first age of global exploration when characters like Columbus, Vasco Da Gama and Magellan were the heroes of the age, one of the major objectives was to find a route to the fabled spice islands in what is now Indonesia. In the 15th century spices were a valuable global commodity which many believed offered protection from the various plagues that prevailed in Europe as well as being used to flavour food and disguise the taste of rotting meat! Until this era of maritime exploration these spices had been imported via overland routes in small quantities and so were a rarity which traded at very high prices. One of the best known trading areas established by the Dutch East India company were known as the Molluca islands which were rich is cloves, mace and nutmeg and the island of Ambon became a major export hub in this valuable trade.

Fast forward to the 21st century and Ambon is earning a reputation for a very different commodity which is highly prized by underwater photographers….plenty of muck on the seabed and the treasure trove of exotic critters to be found! Whilst Ambon has been on the radar as an attractive dive location for quite some time, the development of diving facilities and resorts was arrested by political turmoil around the year 2000. The region is now stable again and the area began to become a start or finish point for several live aboard operations and one local dive centre reopened under the name of Maluku Divers. This resort was initially based close to Ambon city but in 2010 moved to a newly built resort closer to the airport and perhaps more importantly closer to some of the best dive sites in the bay.

Maluku Divers is fast gaining a glowing reputation amongst underwater photographers and divers who are keen to see the weirdest creatures that Indonesian waters offer. So far this is the only resort here offering comfortable accommodation and the facilities that we have come to expect, so coming here is a little like the early days in the Lembeh Strait when there was only one resort and you would rarely see another dive boat. The resort itself is very intimate and will take a maximum of 18 guests in spacious, comfortable bungalow style rooms each with a veranda facing the sea. There is a central complex that comprises the restaurant, a lounge area, well equipped camera room and to the side of the development the dive centre with dedicated camera rinse tanks. The resort is managed by Marcel Hargendijk and LiLi Tey, a delightful couple who ensure efficient and safe operations and are keen to assist with any issues.

There are three dive boats available, so even if the resort is full of photographers the boats are not crowded and there is plenty of space for cameras. There are 48 named dived sites spread along both sides of the bay and whilst some do merge into their neighbours it does mean that there is plenty of choice and space to separate the small diving groups if all three boats are in action. If you are feeling adventurous and need a fix of coral reef diving then full day excursions can be arranged to the reefs outside the bay and beyond to Seram Island. There is also a wreck close to the main port, sunk in 1958 and festooned with soft corals which is well worth diving.

Many of the dive sites have a particular species as the star attraction, so if you have a wants list it is best to declare this as soon as you arrive and the dive guides will plan the dives accordingly to make sure you achieve your goals. There are no guarantees when dealing with nature of course, but I certainly was not disappointed and the only thing we did not see was the famous Ambon psychedelic frogfish (Histiophryne psychedelica) but that is a rare beast indeed and has only been seen a handful of times.


Photographically this is a mostly macro destination, but if you need a fix of wide angle vistas and coral then there are some good reef dives close at hand. A 60mm macro lens will be the workhorse for most subjects and 105mm macro or maybe a 150-200mm macro lens for the more shy tiny subjects like the pygmy seahorses. It is worth bringing a wet lens or tele-converter if you want to capture some super macro images. There are also many subjects which are an ideal size for wide macro images with a fish eye lens and tele-converter.

The Workshop
As with previous workshops the emphasis will be on informality and everyone is free to ask questions throughout the day. During the workshop there will be some themed presentations suitable for users of both DSLR and compact systems and Mark will be on hand to help and advise on the best techniques and solutions whatever equipment you choose to use.

Most people are shooting with digital equipment now, but there are still  a few film users out there who are most welcome to join the workshop. Unfortunately we are unable to offer E6 processing.

The Resort

The bungalow style rooms are spacious, air conditioned and have two desk areas for post processing or camera preparation if you prefer not to use the camera room. Rooms can be arranged as twin or double bedded.

 

There is WIFI available, good signal for mobile phones, a well equipped dive centre and a spacious dedicated camera room with individual work stations with charging facilities and ample storage room.

 

  

 
   

  

 

  


Diving is from spacious locally built boats with covered main decks and helpful dedicated crews.

 

For full details of the resort visit their website at
www.muckdivingindonesia.com

See additional resort images below.

THIS WORKSHOP IS BOOKED DIRECTLY WITH MARK - FOR BOOKING DETAILS PLEASE E-MAIL: markwebster@photec.co.uk

Workshop dates: 22 February to 1 March 2014

Information:
 

Getting There: There are a number of routes from Europe and the USA to Ambon via Denpaser in Bali and Jakarta. We flew with Emirates to Jakarta and Garuda Indonesia – both offer 30kg free hold allowance for divers. Divers originating in the USA may have a more generous baggage allowance.

 

Diving: The diving will suit all levels of experience, although less experienced divers should be cautious of sites with strong currents.

 

Air temperature: 27-30c and humid

 

Water temperature: 27-29c but can be 20-25c in the cold currents – 3-5mm wetsuit advised

 

Health: currently Ambon has a low malaria risk – but you should consult your pharmacist or MASTA or the current situation and prophylactic.

 

Time: Ambon is GMT +9 hours.

 

Voltage: 220V with European style two pin plugs.

 

Entry Requirements: you can purchase a 30 day tourist visa on arrival ($25) and passport must be valid for at least 6 months with 4 blank pages.

 

Money: bring US Dollars, Euros or Stirling to change locally into Rupiah. There are money changers everywhere but exchange rates are often best on arrival at the airport or in the banks. You can also withdraw cash from ATM’s

 

Cost: Flights will vary dependant on time of year but will vary between £600-750 from the UK to Indonesia, with a further £150-200 for the internal flights to Ambon dependant on carrier. When booking internal flights online make sure you select the Indonesian home page (in English) for the best prices, particularly for Garuda. Alternatively you can ask the resort to arrange internal travel for you.

 

Websites:

www.photec.co.uk       markwebster@photec.co.uk

 

www.muckdivingindonesia.com

www.emirates.com

http://www.garuda-indonesia.com/us/index.page

http://www.lionair.co.id/

http://www.batavia-air.com/etiket/

Ambon 2012 Picture Gallery

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Maluku Divers