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A month of underwater macro adventure

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Underwater Photography – September 2016

This month we have 7 interns joining us in Guinjata Bay for the Underwater Photography Internship: Kristen, May, Emmett, Nikki, Megan, Rich and Leena. This month, I’m even happier because two of my very good friends are coming to take the Underwater Photography Internship with us, Kristen and May. Kristen was born in South Korea and was adopted when she was 4 years old by a lovely American family and May is from Myanmar (a country next to Thailand, like she says).

The other  5 interns became our friends too, and since the beginning of this month we have felt a strong connection with them. Emmett is from Ireland, Nikki hails from Scotland, Megan from the States, Rich from England and Leena from Kenya. I can only describe them as an amazing bunch of people from all over the world that couldn’t wait to see the underwater beauty of Mozambique!

Pepe started with the underwater photography lessons as soon as everybody arrived. Most of the interns hadn’t used a DSLR beforehand, so they played with the settings by taking pictures around the tropical gardens to get to know their equipment. They learned how to set up the cameras into the housings and prepare everything for their first pool session with macro settings.

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We went on our cultural tour in the first week of the program. We visited a local family where they received us with delicious local dishes like matapa (a traditional dish made of the cassava leaf mixed with coconut and cashew nuts), fresh coconuts and the kids toasted some cashew nuts for us.

The kids love to pose for our pictures, so this is excellent practice to improve our students’ photography skills. Kristy brought some presents for them and they got even happier than they were before, so they danced and posed for us even more!

After the pool practice the interns felt ready to go and capture real subjects in the ocean, so they did their first local dive called Caves, a perfect shallow dive full of macro creatures.

On the first dives with the camera, they struggled more than they had in the pool as there was a lot of surge underwater and this made taking pictures more of a challenge. But they didn’t give up and kept practicing every day and correcting their mistakes after looking at their pictures every afternoon.

The conditions improved and we had some perfect days with almost no current. We also made a trip to the estuary and found creatures in the muddy bottom. The estuary is like a nursery area, as there were mini frogfish and lots of other juveniles waiting to get big enough to venture out into the big ocean.

At the end of the two weeks of training with macro settings, the interns managed to improve their shots dramatically, with perfect composition and exposure – even using their strobes perfectly.

We finished after two weeks feeling accomplished with macro photography, and it was time to move on to bigger things. The final two weeks were looming fast and wide-angle was beckoning – and boy, did this come at a good time! I’ll be sharing the opportunities we have had with some of the larger creatures we saw in another post.

-Ari Robinson

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