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Underwater Photography Workshops

Each year I run a few underwater photography workshops (and, in addition, some non-teaching photographer trips) for keen underwater photographers. The longest running workshops are my annual Grand Cayman and Red Sea Events, although I also run workshops in other parts of the world: such as in the cold, clear water of Norway in the north, to Sardinia and the unique Mediterranean Sea (where scuba was born) to remote south east Asian destinations (and more). That said, I am very choosey about locations and I only run workshops in destinations that I know intimately. This is fundamental for me to give you the very best advice on lighting, settings and techniques before we dive and to share many suggestions for compositions that are going to reveal the best of the subject matter in your photos. A workshop destination should also have reliably excellent conditions for underwater photography and reliable and abundant subject matter so that everyone can get great shots.

Because my workshops are run for you (and not for the benefit of my pictures) they are very popular and invariably over-subscribed. To hear about them first subscribe here by email. Summaries of the workshops are also listed below (email me or contacts given for full details).

My workshops are not aimed at absolute beginners. You should have at least been diving with your camera system before. There are many people that can get you started in underwater photography. I try and help people who are already shooting, are enthusiastic about their photography and looking to take their photos to the next level. But I try and encourage a range of levels on each trip. Some people who attend take photos every bit as good as any big name pro, others win contests or have their work published regularly, while others are just starting out. All I ask is that you are enthusiastic about your photography, not condescending to those behind you on the learning curve and want to improve.

Importantly, I do not have a competition element on any of my workshops, which I strongly believe helps to promote a constructive and sharing atmosphere that is to everyone's benefit. Just about everyone who comes on my workshops comments how positive and open this makes the atmosphere and is one reason that my trips book up quickly with many repeat photographers (or maybe I am just not teaching them well enough, so they need to come back!). On my workshops you learn from me AND from each other. Remember nothing will reinforce your knowledge like explaining it to others, and everyone's images benefit from the honest feedback and ideas from our peers. We take our photography seriously, and work hard for our images, but we don't take ourselves too serious. So hopefully you'll have a good laugh along the way. Most of my workshops attract photographers who have dived with me on many occasions, so there are plenty of jokes old and new. Finally, because I am known around the world by underwater photographers, my workshops usually attract people from many countries. I encourage this because I feel it is beneficial for everyone to be exposed to different equipment, techniques, ideas and philosophies than you may have come across before.

For the last few years I have tried to differentiate the content of my workshops based on destination and time of year because many people want to attend several (or all) of them. Although they are not a strict series, I strongly believe there is something to be gained from attending more than one or repeating any of them (as they cover different topics and also evolve considerably year on year). You can read more about my annual Grand Cayman and Red Sea Workshops on their dedicated pages.

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My workshops generally fill up quickly. In most cases the first announcement of my workshops is through my Travel Newsletter, (you can subscribe here), which goes out to many photographers who have travelled with me before. Having a core of repeaters tends to ensure a continuity of the helpful and friendly atmosphere I try to promote on my trips. After trips have been promoted in my newsletter, announcements will appear on this website (below), although trips are often full by this stage. I generally do not put announcements on Facebook, even though people have asked me to. Since most of my workshops are fully booked they are not often advertised elsewhere. The bottom line is to find out first, subscribe to the newsletter.

Finally, if you are a keen underwater photographer, please also look at my photography trips. These do not have any structured teaching but offer diving tailored to underwater photography, often at more exotic destinations or focused on a specific event or species. They usually fill with the same people who come on my workshops.

Red Sea Photo Workshop June/July 2013. 3 Workshops.

THESE THREE WORKSHOPS ARE FULLY BOOKED. Due to demand I have expanded from one, then two and now three consecutive liveaboard photography workshops in June/July 2013. But we'll be back again on my top boat MY Whirlwind on a trip coordinated by Scuba Travel. I know the Red Sea very well, from the perspective of the diving, underwater photography and marine life and I am very proud that this workshop will put you in front of fantastic subject matter dive after dive, with all the information you need to get great images. We dive sites at very specific times and this makes all the different in producing the shots. To get a flavour for both the diversity and quality of the subject matter on this workshop week, have a look at these galleries of images taken by the participants during the workshop weeks on Whirlwind in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

As always, during this workshop I will pass on as much information and as many tips as I can and help you get stunning images from this beautiful area. This workshop will follow my classic Red Sea summer format on MY Whirlwind (who picked up her latest liveaboard of the year award at this the London International Dive Show 2012). The trip is timed to catch the great schools gathering at Ras Mohammed, but we will enjoy a diverse itinerary with reefs, schools and some wrecks. The exact itinerary always varies slightly, as we will follow the best photographic conditions. You can read a general introduction to my Red Sea workshops here.

The standard price for the trip is (1 week: full board, diving and flights) £1170 GBP (approx Dollars $1833 USD, E1460 Euros). The official flights are London to Sharm El Sheikh and back to London. It is also possible to book 1 week no flights for £950 GBP. Pleased note these three workshops are fully booked.

Grand Cayman Photo Workshop August 2013. 2 Workshops.

THESE TWO WORKSHOPS ARE FULLY BOOKED. Starting in 2013, my long running and popular Grand Cayman workshop, Digital Madness, will be rotating through the year from its classic January date, to open up the chance to shoot different seasonal subject matter on each trip. In 2013 that means the two workshop weeks will be August, which typically brings glassy flat seas that are so warm there is no need for any wetsuit. But our motivation for the timing is photographic. In 2011, I advised a film crew for the Discovery Channel to visit Ocean Frontiers during the first two weeks of August to catch the best silverside action and they were rewarded with dive sites overflowing with these small silvery fish and it made me think: I should follow my own advice from time to time. A major aim of the 2013 workshops are to photograph these stunning summer schools of silversides, and if we get good action we will focus our efforts on them. The calm weather and sunny days are also very suited to shooting split levels at Stingray city and we will be planning special trips to see the rays in the right conditions to produce these images.

The teaching aspect of the August workshop will look in detail at composition. The aim is to take a more artistic approach to underwater photography, to compliment the technical angle of the January workshop. As such, they teaching elements are separate courses so can be done in isolation or either sequence. The aim of this workshop is to inspire and challenge your photographic vision and to encourage you to experiment with a range of compositional ideas to give your portfolio of images real breadth. The aim is to delve a little deeper than 'try placing the subject off centre' and look at how we can influence the emotional reaction that our images provoke in the audience with different photographic approaches. This workshop is expected to be very popular so please contact Lesley at OF as soon as you can to ensure your place.

There are two workshop weeks available, and yes, it IS slightly cheaper because it is on their summer rates.
Week 1: 3rd - 10th August 2013
Week 2: 10th - 17th August 2013
Priced from $2,020.00 USD, (£1272 GBP), based on double occupancy in one bedroom condo.
Please contact Lesley(at)oceanfrontiers.com for full package details and to reserve your place, or call Toll Free 1 800 348 6096 (from USA).

Lembeh Strait. WETPIXEL's Ultimate Macro Workshop. October 2013. 1 Workshop

FINAL SPACES. If you are an underwater photographer I am certain that you will already know about Lembeh. The famous critter capital in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. But what I need to tell you is that this is a WETPIXEL Expedition with a difference. Typically, WETPIXEL runs photo trips for dedicated and enthusiastic photographers, but this is a full-on workshop. That means everything you'd expect on a normal WETPIXEL Expedition, plus formal teaching, coaching and encouragement from Alex Mustard et al. to help you produce stunning images.

The workshop is based at the excellent Lembeh Resort, recently named as one of the top 25 resorts in Indonesia. I have a long relationship with the resort, I've even done an exploratory trip with them to a new area in Sulawesi, so I am certain we will be treated as a very special group. I chose to time our workshop in October as I have found it an especially critter rich time of the year in Lembeh, with particularly plentiful encounters with ghostpipefish, hairy frogfish, octopus and more.

Our focus in Lembeh will be macro photography. Lembeh has long been acknowledged as the benchmark destination, the place all muck diving spots are measured against. Lembeh's cast of characters is constantly changing, but we can expect to see some or all of the following: frogfish, ghostpipefish, stargazers, mandarinfish, mimic octopus, wonderpus, hairy octopus, coconut octopus, blue ring octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, Inimicus scorpionfish, ambon scorpionfish, Rhinopias, seahorses (including pygmies) and countless crustaceans and nudibranchs. They are always finding new critters and the latest star attraction is a green hairy shrimp, although I am sure there will be something new by 2013. Check out Critters @ Lembeh monthly highlight videos to get a feel for what the team at Lembeh Resort have been finding. That said, I do not want anyone to come with a wish-list of critters they want to photograph. Perhaps the biggest photographic mistake you can make on a Lembeh trip is to turn up with a wish-list. It usually means you go home with a collection of ID shots. This is a trip to create memorable images, not collect stamps. Take it as read that you will see loads of great critters on every dive. Your challenge is capture them as stunning photographs.

The workshop will be run by me (Dr Alex Mustard, marine biologist and underwater photographer) and will focus on macro, covering a wide range of shooting techniques, creative lighting, composition and positive space, and decisive moments. We will also cover macro post processing workflow, dealing with the typical problems and solutions of shooting macro and shooting in Lembeh. Talks will be done after lunch, so that you can put tips and ideas straight into practice. Leaving evenings free for mandarin dives at dusk, night dives and then finally reviewing images.

VITALS: 12 - 23 October 2013. 11 night/26 NITROX dive package plus workshop.
$3199 USD per person (approx. £2003 GBP, 2399 EUROS. Or $4045 USD (including single supplement).
Group size will depend on number of single supplements.
Not included flights and drinks.
Get there: fly to Singapore and then fly with Silk Air to Manado. Resort meets us at the airport.

BOOKINGS are being handled by Dan Dan Baldocchi at Under Exposures, who has handled the bookings for my previous WETPIXEL Expeditions. Contact Dan and he will give you the full details. A $500 USD deposit will secure your place. It is possible to pay by Credit Card or Bank Transfer.
To book, please contact Dan Baldocchi at wetpixel(AT)underexposures.com.

Raja Ampat Photo Workshop January/February 2014. 2 Workshops.

THESE TWO WORKSHOPS ARE FULLY BOOKED, although I am still in the process of allocating the final spots. These are the second and third instalments of an exciting new series of photo workshops I am running on the fabulous fleet of luxury liveaboards run by World Wide Dive and Sail, who I've known for many years. As these trips are now fully booked I won't put further details here at the moment.

The diving in Raja Ampat is stunning and diverse, with amazing coral growth (wow, wow, wow) and an explosion of fish life, plentiful big creatures, amazing critter dives, mangroves and so much more (I am not doing it justice, you can see galleries from my last trip here and here) for a taster. It is such a large area that a liveaboard is the only way to appreciate the diversity properly and to get a sense of scale for such a large area with so little sign of man. I first photographed Raja Ampat for my award-winning book Reefs Revealed (published in 2007) and it actually seems to be becoming more famous each year as the ultimate in coral reef diving. More dive sites are being discovered all the time. But I still clearly remember my first week of liveaboard diving in Raja Ampat, when after each dive we (myself and Peter Rowlands) kept saying 'No, that was by best coral reef dive of my life'. It is a place every diver should see.

The Reef Photo & Video Philippines Underwater Photo Intensive. April 2014. 1 Workshop.

Hands-On Workshop conducted by Alex Mustard, Tanya Burnett, Kevin Palmer, Gutsy Tuason and Chris Parsons.
19th April - 26th April 2014 (18 months from now)
$2195 USD Per Person, Double Occupancy. Or $3195 USD Per Person, Single Occupancy.

NEW! OPEN FOR BOOKINGS. Reef Photo and Video has utilised every possible resource to assemble what could well be the greatest underwater photography learning experience of 2014. This is a chance to learn and develop with professional instruction, unlimited support and a chance to be guided to striking photo opportunities - every day. Also with Reef Photo behind this event I suspect that there might be a few toys available to try, to extend your photographic capabilities.

Anilao, Philippines is a quiet coastal region of the island of Luzon sprinkled with small dive resorts and vacation homes. It first gained international attention when underwater photographer Scott Gutsy Tuason's book Anilao, which he co-authored with Eduardo Co-Unjieng, won the grand prize at the World Festival Underwater Images in France over a dozen years ago. Only a 2.5 hour drive from Manila, Anilao is extremely easy to reach by international travel standards with direct flights from across North America and many hubs in Europe and Asia. More importantly, Anilao is home to some of the finest Muck and Reef Macro photographic diving in the World. The variety of species and environments that can be found within a 15 minute boat ride from the resort is simply staggering. There are also world class wide angle opportunities for those who can pull themselves away from the small stuff. It is not uncommon to hear first time visitors to the area exclaim they have photographed more unusual critters around Anilao in a week, than in years of international travel elsewhere. The exotic night diving options are second to none.

Getting the most from Anilao requires expert local guides who know where the current action is happening and how to spot it. Reef Photo and Video has already reserved eight of the most famous Anilao guides for this week; offering one guide per every three to four photographers on the trip. This ratio will give everyone plenty of extraordinary photo opportunities during the course and groups will be divided to keep the sites less crowded.

Aiyanar is one of Anilao's newest and most beautiful resorts. The setting is serene, an artistically modern design carved into the hillside with mature tropical trees, lots of natural materials, an infinity pool and lovely elevated al fresco dining area to catch the ocean breeze. The rooms are all elegant, contemporary and larger than typical for Filipino resorts. Reef Photo and Video has reserved the entire resort, so we will have full access to the extensive dive and photo support facilities (probably the best in the area).

There is little in the way of night life or fine restaurants locally, so all meals and snacks are included and everyone will enjoy abundant dining throughout the day. Reliable Wi-Fi is available everywhere on the property (because you know you are going to get photos you want to share with your friends). Diving will be mainly from traditional Banka boats (outriggers) which we find to be one of the most comfortable dive boat set ups ever designed and the colorful craft make great photo ops too!

Finally Reef Photo & Video have a number of extensions on offer. I'd suggest staying on after the workshop rather than travelling out early, so that the workshop gets you in the zone and then you have time to make use of all the ideas and tips you have learned. More info on their website.

VITALS:
Workshop Conducted by Alex Mustard, Tanya Burnett, Kevin Palmer, Gutsy Tuason and Chris Parsons
19 - 26th April 2014
$2195 USD Per Person, Double Occupancy (approx £1360 or Euros 1688
$3195 USD Per Person, Single Occupancy (approx £1982 or Euros 2455)
All payments due in USD. Deposit $1000 USD. Balance due in February 2014.
This very good value trip, includes All Meals & Accommodations, Six Days of Diving, Three One Tanks Boat Trips per Day with a 3:1 Guide to Diver Ratio, Daily Afternoon Photo Technique Clinics, Daily Evening Inspirational and Educational Slide Shows, Transfers to & from Manila (surcharges for extensions on pre and post extensions required).

Only a deposit can secure your place. Booking on this workshop could not be simpler. Regular Reef Photo And Video customers will probably be very happy to simply use their online shop and pay your deposit straight away. Click here to book. Alternatively please feel free to email me or contact Reef Photo through their website here for more information or to make a reservation through the staff at Reef Photo.

Finest Philippines With Mustard. Tubbataha May 2014. 1 Workshop.

BRAND NEW! 2nd May-10th May 2014 on the Atlantis Azores Liveaboard. Although these reefs didn't just spring up, Tubbataha (which is actually celebrating 25 years as a Marine Protected Area) is widely predicted to become the next must see destination in SE Asia, like others including Raja Ampat, Lembeh or Sipadan have in the past. The arrival of quality liveaboards in the area finally makes visiting a safe and luxurious proposition. Tubbataha is a pair of remote atolls, way out in the middle of the 4000m deep Sulu Sea. They are the only atolls in the Philippines. Rising precipitously up from great depths, the reef are a true oasis of pristine reef life bathed in clear ocean waters. 50m (180ft) visibility is common. Tubbataha is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Photographically it is wide angle heaven, with rich SE Asia reefs, in the clearest water. Coral walls and slopes covered in giant sea fans, sponges and corals surrounded by thousands of anthias and other small reef fish. The area is best known for bigger creatures: schools of bigeye jacks, barracuda, bump head parrotfish, mantas, mobulas and abundant sharks. Whitetip reef sharks and grey reefs are most common, but people see plenty of more exotic species too. That said, the sharks often keep their distance. The reefs are also famed for turtles, with both hawksbills and green turtles being very abundant. Think of Sipadan 30 years ago, but on a bigger scale and with very few divers. Oh and lots of mantas too. There is plenty of Philippine macro subjects too, plenty of nudibranchs and the odd pygmy seahorse, although the focus of the workshop will be wide angle.

Currents and the upwellings of cooler, nutrient rich water are the main reason for this explosion of life. I've booked the boat over neap tides to hopefully have mild currents to make photography as productive as possible. The atolls and small island do not offer proper protection in the open sea, so Tubbataha can only be visited during a short season from March to June. In early May we will be right in the middle of prime time. The Azores is a metal hulled, fully equipped boat, with twin engines, specifically designed for exploring remote areas like Tubbataha.

The liveaboard is also something special. The Atlantis Resorts are well known for being a cut above most dive resorts in the Philippines, noted for their excellent levels of service and especially fine food. The same standards continue on their liveaboard. You can read more about the boat on their website. After going on the Azores recently, Diver Magazine's John Bantin wrote it was best liveaboard he had ever been on. While I usually take JB's words with at least a pinch of salt, there is no doubt this must be a fine vessel.

The workshop will focus on helping you get the most out of the photographic opportunities on these stunning reefs. I'll focus the talks on wide angle in particular. I'll give a formal talk each day, as well as adding tips and things to think about when we're preparing for each dive. I'll always be happy to help out on a 1:1 level and look at your photos. We'll also finish most days with a group image review session, where you can benefit from feedback on your photos from the whole group and get ideas and inspiration from seeing what other people are producing.

The liveaboard departs from Puerto Princesa, so the basic package includes the essential internal flights to and from Manila. We've pre-paid an increased baggage allowance to 30kg for everyone. The package also includes a night in the airport hotel in Manila, prior to catching the early morning flight to the boat. Dates 2nd May-10th May 2014.
Basic Packaage (Manila-Manila): £2595 pp GBP
(includes liveaboard, full board including all drinks on board, diving, workshop, airport hotel and internal flights).
International Package (London-London): £3595 pp GBP
(same plus international flights with Cathy Pacific also with 40kg hold baggage).
To save you looking it up, £2595 GBP is about $4080 USD or 3045 Euros.

This trip is being organised by Scuba Travel, who many of you know well from my Red Sea and Maldives trips. Please contact them for further information and for reservations here. Telephone is always the most efficient way to get everything done in one go, please note that they are based in the UK and their office hours are typical UK ones (on British time!). UK call freephone 0800 072 8221. Otherwise their number is +44 (0) 1483 411 590. Email is also fine and is usually easiest for those away from European time zones. Email Caroline(AT)scubatravel.com. A non-refundable deposit is required to secure your place.

Finally, I am also running a pre-trip extension before the Atlantis Azores liveaboard, at Atlantis Dumaguete (from £1195 GBP), linking the Tubbataha workshop with the Anilao one. Some people have already signed up for all three, but they can be booked in any combination. Note that Anilao is booked through Reef Photo and Tubbataha and Dumaguete are booked with Scuba Travel.

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