Prior to our Raja Ampat 2017 live aboard trip, we organised a short 3 day “Photography Warm Up” session at the wonderful Maluku Divers in Ambon. Nine people of our Raja Ampat group decided to join us for this fun event and explore the great critter diving that Ambon is known for. After arrival and getting all of our gear sorted out, we were treated to a great dinner and to finish the evening, Maluku Divers manager Fred treated us to a wonderful slideshow of the critters we were hoping to find.
With just 2.5 days of diving, on day one we headed straight out to find the top creatures in Ambon. Our quality guides did not disappoint and showed us 6 (yes 6!) Psychedelic Frogfish on the first day! Other great sightings included a rhinopias in just a few metres of water, bumble bee shrimp, saw blade shrimp, and a whole bunch of “regular” frogfish.
After lunch on the first day, Mike presented a talk about basic strobe positioning as well as advanced strobe positioning for separating the subject from the background. After the afternoon dive, the group got together to look at photos and then another presentation from Mike about f-stops. After a fantastic dinner, we reconvened in the comfortable Maluku Divers lounge and continued to discuss shutter speeds. Although we were shooting macro in Ambon, many of the group are continuing on to Raja Ampat and a discussion of shutter speed theory for wide angle imagery was great prep for the coral reefs of Raja.
On the second day of diving we split the two groups to head out to some of the different areas of Ambon Bay, all of which offer great macro photo opportunities. What we thought was a great precedent for the resort was that Maluku Divers allowed us only to visit the psychedelic frogfish on the first day. They try to minimise the interaction with these fish to not disturb them too much. On the second day highlights included two wonderpus, more frogfish, nudibranchs of all kinds, coleman shrimp, zebra crabs, and Shaun the Sheep nudibranchs.
After lunch Mike presented a talk about composition underwater and the art of photography, i.e. not just thinking about f-stops and shutter speeds! The afternoon dive included plenty of photography opportunities and then a chance to watch the sunset after the dive. Before dinner Mike discussed creating blue and black backgrounds in macro photography. After yet another great dinner, Christian Loader presented a talk about cephalopods which was accompanied by an incredible array of his photographs of these cool critters.
The last day of this short 3 dive adventure consisted of 2 dives and the sightings did not disappoint. Once again we were able to find rhinopias, bumble bee shrimp, harlequin shrimp, and many of the other critters that make Ambon famous. After the diving was done, a few people headed to town to explore the sights of Ambon, while the rest spent time collecting their images together for the final night slideshow. Maluku Divers treated us to a wonderful BBQ dinner before everyone sat down to watch a presentation of the best images from everyone. We were very happy to see that the entire group was able to get some outstanding photos, no matter what equipment they were using.
On the morning of the last day, we were able to get together for a group photo and had a dugong wave goodbye to us from just beyond the Maluku Divers jetty as we prepared to head off to the airport! We had to say goodbye to 4 participants here, 2 who headed off to Lembeh and 2 others who stayed in Ambon for more wonderful diving. However, for the rest of us it was a short journey to Sorong to start our next adventure, stay tuned for more about our Raja Ampat trip coming up soon!
We would like to thank Maluku Divers for hosting us for another photo workshop, the crew at Maluku did a wonderful job as always. It’s great to re visit a place and receive that feeling of having only left a day or two before as all your old friends are there to greet you. Until next year, that is all from Ambon.