I receive a private message on Facebook by Jerome Kim, underwater photographer of international renown and well known for its beautiful super-macro shooting, or that type of photography where the magnification of the subject and ‘above 1 : 1. Jerome has organized and invites me to join the “1 or underwater Dream Tour ” in the Philippines, a events patronized by the government “Dive Philippines” to promote a few of the most beautiful places of the country underwater.
I heard of this wonderful event, and I knew Jerome was putting together an appropriate “Dream Team” of photographers specializing in macro photography from around the world to enhance the underwater beauty of the Philippines. Since the macro my forte, I think of a mistake.
I learn later that the already “group formed there” was a defection, and his friend Nicholas Samaras, already ‘part of the group, had mentioned my name to Jerome. Happy sponsorship of my bearded and tattooed greek friend and not at all sorry to take over from the bench I accept with enthusiasm and I prepare for this fantastic adventure!
They are above all very curious to finally know the legendary Jerome Kim, of which in recent years I have admired the beautiful macro and super-macro shots that have made him known throughout the world. Born and raised in Korea, and an architect by profession, Jerome now lives in Manila and has spent the last 15 years of his diving career in the seas of the Philippines.
The 1 or Underwater Dream Tour consists of 4 stages, in each of which the group of photographers led by Jerome will be ‘housed in a resort that is sponsoring the event.
The four stages are:
- 2- 7 July: Romblon (resort guests The Three P Holiday & Dive Resort Romblon)
- July 7 to 11: Anilao (resort guests Aiyanar Beach & Dive Resort)
- 11- 16 July: Puerto Gallera (resort guests Marco Vincent Resort)
- July 16 to 21: Dauin (resort guests Atmosphere Resorts)
Participants in the 1 or Underwater Dream Tour are (besides myself):
- Jerome Kim (from the Philippines)
- Enzo Chen (Taiwan)
- Nu Parnupong Norasethkamol (Thailand)
- Pipat Cat Kosumlaksamee (Thailand)
- Kelvin Tan HY (from Singapore)
- Nicholas Samaras (Greece)
- Yorko Summer (Taiwan)
- Iyad Suleyman (UAE)
- Ken Tongpila (Australia)
For business reasons, unfortunately I can not participate in all 4 stages. I decided to join the rest of the group for the central ones, Anilao and Puerto Galera. On the evening of July 6th I land in Manila, the transfer to Aiyanar and ‘immediate. The next morning, after a refreshing night’s sleep, meet and’m dating Enzo, Nu, Pipat, Iyad and Jerome. There’s obviously the “brother” Nicholas who already’ know.
Anilao and ‘a town of Mabini in Batangas province. It only takes two hours and a half drive to go along a highway for easy access to Manila this paradise.
Decades ago, a secret paradise Anilao was only known by local divers. Today in the Philippines interest in the diving industry is experiencing an international boom thanks to the improvement of infrastructure, the resort, and diving as well as’ a policy for the protection of marine environments. The result is ‘a steady and continuous growth of the tourism industry, and Anilao is the location’ for macro photography fastest growing, now become a Mecca just as Lembeh in Indonesia. The emergence of various resorts along the coast of Mabini testifies to the enormous success that this destination has generated on an international level among underwater photographers.
And Anilao ‘a city built on love and passion for diving and then the development here adheres strictly to the rules of conservation and sustainability. Locals remember with pride that Anilao is a marina area managed and secured by local communities since the 70s, and are determined to maintain it as such.
Anilao and ‘a paradise that caters to divers of all skill level and type of interest. For lovers of macro photography, sites like Secret Bay newly discovered or classic dive to the Basura guarantee meetings with particular creatures such as frogfish (the giant, the clown and the hairy), the Wonderpus octopus, cuttlefish flambouyant, and, lately, also rinofie, sighted and photographed regularly off the coast of Mabini.
For those who prefer to dive easy, pleasant and full of color, Anilao, located right in the center of the Coral Triangle format with Puerto Galera and Verde Island, boasts one of the widest diversity of coral life that can be found in a single dive. Finally, even the big fish enthusiasts will not be disappointed as to Anilao sightings of sharks, rays and other large fish groups such as barracuda and occasionally even the whale shark.These meetings can be made in places with current sustained and deep reefs, such as the dive sites Mainit Point, Bahura Kanto, Mapating, Larry’s Garden and Twin Rocks.
As already ‘mentioned in the first leg of my trip here to Anilao are host dell’Aiyanar and Diver Beach Resort where I am greeted warmly by the Sales & Marketing Manager of the hotel, Marco Ignacio Lacson Santos , and his entire staff. The Aiyanar and ‘an extraordinary resort, built in the green and in complete harmony with nature. The property is nestled on top ‘of a green hill with a breathtaking view of the ocean!
The resort, with its amphitheater structure, gives every room an amazing sea view.
Inside the rooms are luxurious, with lots of available space, very comfortable and tastefully decorated. From each room it leads to a balcony where you can enjoy the view of the garden, the pool and the sea on the horizon.
The first of the four days spent in Anilao is not easy, we are hit by the tail of a typhoon passing over Taiwan, but despite the sea conditions and the strong current we dive straight in this Paradise of the macro.
Here I have the opportunity to finally see it in action my distinguished colleagues struggling with the wonderful people of Anilao. Conversations about the various species that make me understand how we could meet the specialty of the super-macro is a world unto itself ‘in underwater photography, made primarily of specific knowledge of biology and ethology of the subjects of these seas. In order to portray the best way of the creatures that are some times lower, of the order of centimeters or even millimeters, you must have enormous patience and perseverance, and use some tools, such as external diopters, which are added and positioned in front of the brings the marine pack to enable you to get a magnification that goes beyond the typical 1:1 lens 60mm or 100mm.
Jerome uses the super-super macro lens NoodiLab Moby , an incredible diopter with magnification 3.5x (and in the new version you just emerged even get to 3.8x), allowing you to get shot and unpublished details, but that requires the best diving skills and photography to be able to focus and shoot.
Even just watching in action samples of the caliber of Jerome and Iyad, I understand as the perfect super-macro shooting is made of a long wait, patience, proper posture and underwater structure, and photographic equipment settings specifically dedicated to this type of photography.
I admire the expert way in which Jerome takes his subjects, I admire the extreme calm and the amazing Iyad trim, but I also appreciate my other colleagues, each with their own style and their own techniques.
When I look at them they seem to be motionless them to observe and photograph the void, then in the evening I see their shots and try endless admiration for how each of them falls himself and his art in the world of extreme macro, rappresentandoci in an original way this world of fascinating subjects, mysterious and unknown to most.
Of course, with subjects so small and sometimes so hidden, you have to know where to look and then know the animal’s behavior. For this here professional dive guides, so-called “spotters”, are so sought after and so appreciated.
The best spotters working as a freelance, and their agenda ‘so full of demands and’ very easy for them to gain at the end of the month several thousand dollars.
Here in Anilao I have the opportunity to meet two of the best guides in the Philippines, Mark Castillo and Dennis Corpuz.
Mark and ‘an underwater guide and spot ter professional, lives in Manila and takes us on some of the dives here in Anilao. While in the water beside him he was totally impressed by his knowledge of marine biology, ability ‘that allows him to hunt with amazing speed and regularity subjects hardly trivial in every corner of the seabed.
Dennis lives and works as a guide to Anilao, then these are its diving, and this knowledge of the seats plus an uncommon ability ‘camera have made it one of the photographers macro and super-macro best known and most capable in the world.
It ‘just that the mix of skills that makes a spotter a super professional sought for this type of sport: not only good diver, not only skilled and experienced biologist and ethologist, but also and perhaps especially someone with aesthetic taste and ability’ superior photographic , therefore able to always indicate the photographer accompanying the best way and with the greatest impact to resume a specific subject. Surely Mark and Dennis are the perfect representatives of this category.
In the four days at Anilao, after a start fearful and uncertain in the face of so and so many of the macro samples, I quickly treasure what I see and what is explained to me, being able to shoot a good number of subjects, some quite rare and I did not never seen before in my life. Indeed my personal challenge and ‘to collect on this trip as many never seen before subjects; I put in my best list with confidence and optimism pretty rare creatures to meet like rinofia and mimic octupus.
Trust and ‘immediately repaid and Anilao me immediately the great privilege of photographing these two species.
The mimic octopus, usually shy and intanato in the sandy bottom, majestic calm and cooperative pose in front of my camera!
We meet nudibranchs of all kinds and all sizes, including one incredibly small, Xenia Phyllodesmium: little more ‘bigger than a grain of rice, can bring home a decent shot only thanks to the support and the incredible Mark lens Mobi NoodiLab, lent by Jerome.
… to be continued…
WORDS and PICTURES David Salvatori