Friday, 11 April 2014

A Photographers guide to Subic Bay

Get some Wreck shots
Subic is a historic treasure trove of WW2 wrecks which are the main draw of the bay. Tec Divers around the world are the strongest clientele for the dive operators in the area but photographers tend to skip Subic due to turbid waters and the myth that there is lack of macro marine life.  I’ve been diving Subic Bay since 2008 and most operators are focused on pushing for wreck certification and tec courses that they miss out on exploring sites which would surely tickle the fancy of underwater photographers. 

The big news for Subic this year is there is a huge school of jackfish which took residence at El Capitan Wreck. The school has grown so big they almost cover the wreck from bow to stern.  Capturing fishballs and tornadoes are almost guaranteed at a shallow 20 feet while one can get creative by shooting the jackfish shimmers and silhouettes from within El Capitan.

everywhere at El Capitan

                       The tiny as shared have always been overlooked around the bay but just a few minutes off base lies a treasure trove of magnificent critters. The bay is connected to rivers which creates an abundance of estuaries, which is the favorite habitat of the strange and the rare. Muck Diving along the coast of Olongapo is one of the best in the Philippine’s.  In one dive, one can encounter an abundance of seahorses, shaggy frogfish, blennies and margin octopus in every corner.  For the photographer, its one of the most insane muck dives you will do and expect your flash batteries to drain more quickly than you expect due to the surprisingly abundant macro life.

 an abundance of Seahorses, see three to four in one dive    
Juvenile Hippocampus Kuda without appendages
a red shaggy frogfish (antennarius hispidus)
a purple shaggy frogfish (antennarius hispidus)

winter blenny, just one of the few... 
Margin Octopus aboud
Mark and the purple hispid froggy

Red Shaggy happily nestled on an iron loop

wake up earlier to get some wreck shots
While estuaries bring in an abundance of critters, it also makes waters more turbid around the bay. Most photographers skip attempts on taking photos of the outside of the
wrecks because most operators take them to the sites in the late mornings and afternoons, and visibility by this time is best confined for inside wreck photography. If one goes early in the morning, expect visibility to be flexible enough for you to get great wreck shots.

The Lowdown:  Subic bay is a playpen for underwater photographers just waiting to be rediscovered. To maximize your opportunities, one must do dives at the Wrecks earlier than usual and explore the muck sites in the late mornings and afternoons. After raking up those stellar wreck and macro shots, have a grand ball at El Capitan shooting the magnificent and massive school of jackfish.  

Getting Here
From SEA- Tiger Airways via Clark and a 1 hr and 30 minute transfer
From Manila- By Car: A 2 hour drive, enter NLEX, either take Pampanga exit or SCTEX exit and just follow the signs
By Bus: Stations at Cubao, P150+ fare

Have a ball
Crawling at portside, El Capitan

get creative, light up moon jellies
have fun taking phooooootos!! at LCU wreck
explore Subic with us,
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