FULL. This trip is still a long way off and cancellations may happen, please contact Caroline@scubatravel.com for waitlist notification and more information.
Scuba Travel is proud to announce a very special underwater photography event at the incredible Misool Resort in March 2024, staying for their longest package (12N in resort), with a join workshop taught by Alex Mustard and Erin Quigley.
Alex says “the title of this webpage was probably enough for many, but I am very excited about this event and want to tell you more! It is hard to think of a more perfect dive destination than Misool Resort, an idyllic resort in an incredible location. Whenever I have agreed to run workshops there, I have always insisted that they are a step above my other workshop trips with a special guest star! This one very much continues the trend. I am very excited that I am teaming up with Erin Quigley of Go Ask Erin fame! I am sure Erin needs little introduction here, but suffice to say she is globally recognised as the leading expert and teacher for post processing underwater images (as well as taking fantastic photos herself and being a great teacher of in-water techniques too). Erin is a giver, a natural teacher, who loves sharing her knowledge and helping others. This will be my fourth trip with Erin, but the first time when we’re officially running a workshop together. We certainly have the very best ingredients for a very special underwater photography event.”
“We actually started planning this workshop pre-Covid,” Alex continues, “and since then many people have said that they would love me to run and event with Erin! To which I have had to reply ‘that’s a good idea!’ not wanting to let on what was already planned. To be honest dreaming up this collaboration was a pretty obvious idea!”
Although very remote, Misool Resort lies at the heart of the world’s most spectacular coral reef habitat. The resort elegantly balances luxury (there are 4 staff to each guest) with active environmental protection to create an unforgettable and adventurous holiday experience in a truly unique destination. Take some time to look through the Misool website to appreciate this is no ordinary destination and resort.
“Misool is a paradise,” says Alex. “Lush coral reefs grow right beneath the rooms, green turtles aggregate right off the beach, reef sharks swim beneath the wooden walkways and huge schools and colourful blooms of soft coral gather just beneath the dock. On our last visit we found 18 pygmy seahorses on the house reef. The island also has its own manta cleaning station, flasher wrasse spawning spots and within minutes there are some of the most famous dives in Raja Ampat. And rather than diving them with a liveaboard load of dive buddies, Misool runs small boats and even smaller groups, ensuring you dive some of the world’s best reefs in a very exclusive way. It is a place to immerse yourself in nature and in your photography. This is also an incredible place to stay, and since the resort usually attracts a lot of non-divers, it is common that people bring non-diving partners on this one, as there are plenty of staff and experiences for them to enjoy while we are out snapping.”
Alex continues “I first visited the Misool reefs in 2006, shooting for my 2007 book Reefs Revealed. This was before the resort had been built and it was obvious that these were the best hard coral, best soft coral and fishiest reefs I had ever seen. What is perhaps even more remarkable is, that returning there down the years, the diving actually is getting better and better with each visit. Many new dive sites have been discovered and we now know of more manta cleaning stations. Above all there are a lot more fish, a lot more turtles and a lot more rays and sharks. Species we’re used to witnessing being strangled from the oceans are blossoming here. It is very uplifting.”
What’s the secret formula? There’s no magic trick, just sound marine conservation. Misool really is an ecologically minded resort – a 300,000 acre marine protected area is an integral part of the resort and is funded and staffed because we visit. Scientific studies have measured a 250% average increase in the amount of fish inside the reserve over a 6-year period and by 2018 there were 25 times more sharks here than when I first visited. And the biomass is still growing.”
Raja Ampat has some of the most spectacular reef diving in the world. Diverse and dense gardens of hard corals, walls stuffed with gaudy soft corals and fans, tonnes of bright reef fish and a water column filled with schools. On top of this there are loads of turtles, sharks, manta rays and more. There is even a jellyfish lake. This trip is timed in March which is known for calm seas and the best visibility for shooting wide angle on these incredible reefs.
Alex adds “although the resort is surrounded by famous dive sites, the ability to do easy house reef dives has been incredibly popular on our previous trips. It is such a privilege to be able to dive repeatedly and at your own convenience in this area. Getting to know a site and repeating it gives such a different perspective and imagery. We usually do three boat dives out on the celebrity sites and one each day on the house reef. There is also excellent split level photography possible when snorkelling. On previous trips, folks have also loved shooting as very small groups of photographers, as we spread across all the boats and visit different sites. It is usual on liveaboards in Raja Ampat for the whole group to dive the same site, while in Misool Resort we’re able to visit those same famous places with just a handful of us in the water. The small dive group size also means we can visit incredibly rich, compact pinnacles that liveaboards groups just can’t do. And of course, the resort has the local knowledge and dozens of dive sites that nobody else visits.”
Alex and Erin will naturally divide the teaching of the workshop into their well-known areas of expertise. Alex presenting the main teaching on underwater technique and Erin sharing her mastery of post processing techniques. But both are keen to help on both fronts, so be sure to benefit from Erin’s insight into shooting and Alex ’s tips for processing. Misool is a wonderful place to indulge in creating sensational images and the workshop is focused on enhancing this. The conditions will be highly suitable for wide angle and this will be a major focus. But there is also excellent fish photography and macro. Misool has pygmy seahorses on almost every dive site.
Formal teaching will take place in one session each day, usually directly after the evening meal. Alex adds, “after the first day or so we will start to include image reviews into these sessions too. Since we’re expecting lots of talented photographers to join this trip, these review sessions are a great chance to see the images everyone is creating and gain more inspiration as the trip goes on, as well as getting feedback on your work. They are also a great opportunity for Erin to discuss the optimum processing techniques for certain types of shots, away from her dedicated presentations.”
Since we take over the whole of the resort, Caroline from Scuba Travel will also be on location to help in looking after everyone, taking care of the logistics and providing an extra point of contact. For those on Alex’s most recent Misool workshop, do note that this is a longer stay in the resort.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO MISOOL WITH ALEX BEFORE?
This will be Alex’s third big event at Misool Resort and the previous two have been heavily over-subscribed. Some people have just missed out both times and been frustrated. Adding the attraction of Erin will like make this one the most popular yet. As always places will be offered to people in the order that Scuba Travel receive your email. However, to help those who have missed out previously, for the first 12 hours that this trip is open for bookings, Scuba Travel will only confirm bookings from people that have NOT done BOTH my previous Misool Resort workshops. If you have not been to Misool with me before or only been on one, then you are fine. Those that have attended both – you are very welcome to come again – and do email straight away to be at the front of the +12 hour queue. Alex adds “I know how valuable folks with previous experience are both to the group and the atmosphere of the workshop, so I really want lots of you there. I am sorry for this complication, but there are quite a few people who have just missed out on the two previous Misool events and this gives them a better shot of getting on this one.” For those that have not been before here is the resorts introductory video.
This trip is being organised by Scuba Travel, UK, who organise most of Alex’s workshop trips. For reservations and further information, please email Caroline@scubatravel.com (noting that they mainly work UK office hours for replies). However, because we expect a lot of interest from photographers all around the world, the trip is priced in US Dollars and without flights. A deposit of 30% of your package price is required to secure your spot, followed by an interim payment on 1st September 2023 of a further 25%, and the final balanced paid on 1st December 2023.
Dates: 14th – 28th March 2024 (Jakarta-Jakarta) – includes 12 nights in resort.
You would need to be in Jakarta by 14th March (day time) and will leave Jakarta on 28th March (evening), please check with Scuba Travel before organising international flights.
Prices: depends on accommodation option, subject to availability
Water cottage USD $10650 pp (2 sharing)
South Beach villa USD $10300 pp (2 sharing)
North lagoon villa USD $11375 pp (2 sharing)
Included: domestic flights from Jakarta to Sorong. full board accommodation at Misool, Workshop with Alex & Erin, upto 4 dives a day package, 12lt tanks & weights. 1 night pre-trip at Jakarta FM7 Hotel, 1 night Sorong hotel, speedboat transfer to resort & Raja Ampat park fees.
The resort is well suited to non-divers. The non-diver rate is $1850 USD less than the diver rate.
Given the limited capacity of the resort, single supplement is expensive. It is the non-diver trip minus the domestic flight & FM7 Hotel night.