Wakatobi….here I come….

the following photographs are © protected by Wakatobi Dive Resort – www.wakatobi.comSeveral months ago I accidently clicked an advert on facebook, while not paying attention to what I was doing – chatting to my wife on the phone. While talking and deciding about what I wanted for supper, I became distracted by what I was seeing on my mac. Of course my wife would say, “nothing new there then”, but that’s not true, I always listen to what she is says…..I can multi task.  Anyway, back to the mac and with a new web browser window opened, I slowly watched as stunning aerial images of a perfect reef environment uploaded onto the screen. Scrolling down and there were photographs of beautiful corals as far as the eye could see with flocks of color hovering just above them in perfect visibility. It looked idyllic, it looked perfect….

It was around this time I was looking for the next special dive destination. Fed up with the Maldives and the real lack of love for solo underwater photographers, I had recently discovered Indonesia and with two seasons of critter photography under my belt at the very special Kungkungan Bay Resort in Manado, I was finding myself wanting more of the critters but with a bit of reef and nice visibility thrown in for good measure. The other thing that I was increasingly aware of was being an annual vacation; it was paramount that I kept my wife happy (unhappy wife means no camera upgrades so its all about give and take). With this in mind I had already been advised during our second trip to KBR that next time, it would be advisable if I searched for something a little bit more 5 star for the non-diving partner. Of course there is nothing wrong with KBR, but my wife deserves the best and so I recognized that I really had to come up with something special if I was going to get to this neck of the woods again. That’s when I came up with Raja Amput and the Misool Eco Resort. It looked idyllic and I had heard so many good things about the diving.

Well, that was until I bumped into this unknown paradise. Hanging up the phone I was able to divert the rest of my attention to what was unfolding/uploading in front of my eyes, the resorts name – Wakatobi. I had previously heard about this place before but had put it out of my mind as being a slightly expensive place to get to from Dubai (but hey, when you see a set of photographs like I was seeing, well it really put things into perspective). Navigating around the resorts website and I really got the feeling that this place was the real thing, with endorsements from the likes of Berkley White of Backscatter, a great feedback section finished off with a great slideshow of the resorts best photographs, I was convinced…this is where I wanted to go and see in 2011…Wakatobi Dive Resort..
Funnily, when mentioning Wakatobi to my wife, she seemed quite interested. With the temptation of a stop in Bali before hand she had pretty much given me the green light although there were conditions. Agreeing to no corners being cut with the accommodation at Wakatobi, I found myself paying the deposit on one of the resorts new Select Villa’s (Villa no.1). Of course you can get cheaper rooms at Wakatobi, but with my wife islandlocked while I was doing three to four dives a day, it made perfect sense that she was catered for in every way. The resorts web description is as follows: The closest villa to the heart of the resort (restaurant and longhouse). With it’s own corner of the Northern Beach complete with its own Bale or “love shack”. This villa offers secluded privacy in an intimate setting. Enjoy a relaxing massage in your beachfront Bale. I mean who wouldn’t be sold by that….with the deposit paid, it was time to start saving.

I wont go into how special the island is now as I have not actually been there yet but you can find out more on www.wakatobi.com. Of course later on I will be blogging and writing an article about my 13-day adventure at the Wakatobi Dive Resort and just what it is about Wakatobi that makes them an award winning luxury eco resort that boasts a world-class reef on its doorstep. For the time being though, you can check out other people’s feedback from Trip Advisor.

Subal ND3s underwater housing for the Nikon D3s has finally arrived..

At last…the new Subal ND3s housing has arrived from Backscatter and it looks and feels great. Obviously with any new camera housing, it always pay to double check for leaks and so this morning I jumped into one of my tanks and took it down to 5 metres. Once down at 5 metres I did a thorough check on all of the controls and once satisfied ended the dive. One of my main concerns was a button repair I had to do on the housing. Sadly when the parcel arrived it looked like a custom official either in the US or in the UAE had everything out of the box for inspection and low and behold, look what they managed to do:

God knows how and what they did but there is no impact damage and the simple button repair has been done – it all seems fine. The only comment that I would say is, any company sending out very expensive camera housings and ports etc. etc. should consider investing in some instructional warning stickers just to help the custom officials when they are un-wrapping and inspecting the items. I can’t complain about Backscatter, they were very supportive and shipped me the replacement button plus a few extras bits within 5 days.

So, whats next?…well primarily i’m going to use this camera for wide angle photography (the incentive to buy was filming whale sharks in Djibouti where the low light makes getting good results tricky – but more about that next year), while still using the Subal ND2/Nikon D2Xs for macro. I’m especially excited about experimenting CFWA on this full frame high performer with the Zen 100mm dome port using the Sigma 15mm and there will be a separate blog about my experiences of trimming down the 15mm Sigma shade to get it to fit behind the 100mm Zen. Sadly there is little information available about the 4″ Zen on a full frame camera other than reports of soft corners, but positive feedback from Backscatter’s Berkley White has given me hope.

Alex Mustard has done some great articles about CFWA, Close Focus Wide Angle photography – click Alex Mustard CFWA Report. Sadly it does not go into too much detail about what I want to do, but its a very handy report for anyone looking into investing in new kit for CFWA photography.