Fiji Photography Workshop
Fiji Photography Workshop…
All aboard the Fiji Siren, paperwork completed and time to go diving, after all that’s why we’ve all come here. Straight off to the Amazing Maze the surface conditions were glass flat and the sky was blue. Great ‘shake-down’ dive, weights sorted, equipment all working and fine-tuned ready to start the real adventure tomorrow. After a great Indonesian themed dinner our guests were treated to a very interesting presentation from master photographer Douglas Hoffman on photo composition, let’s hope we have picked something up from this session for the week of diving ahead…
Day 2 after an early 3-hour cruise Captains Sai and Dodo safely delivered us to Vatu I Ra for our first full day of diving at Instant Replay, Black Magic Mountain and Mellow Yellow. Between dives renowned underwater filmmaker and photographer Annie Crawley shared her knowledge to our keen photographers and Douglas ran one on one critique sessions from today’s efforts. Shortly after our French themed dinner we set course to the furthest part of our cruise Gau Island, some 9-hours away.
We woke to a magical rainbow over Gau before hitting the water in two groups at Jim’s Alley and Anthia’s Avenue, back onboard Fiji Siren it was time for a big cooked breakfast, chefs Aman and Andrew are quickly becoming our guests’ favourite crew, although their waistlines may not be thanking them! The Fiji Siren dive crew were keeping a close well-trained eye on the tides however the ‘water gods’ were playing with us a bit today but we eventually got the tide we needed and dropped into Nigali Passage for ‘shark feeding time’. Action subsurface was a-plenty and we had sharks everywhere, then it was off to Gau Parade for a lovely night dive. Douglas ran another very informative workshop on ‘landscape photography and composition’ and just to make things fun and interesting we offered the chance to win a FREE Fiji Siren sulu (sarong) for the best photograph taken the following day. We celebrated Kevin and Mark’s 25th anniversary and what is a celebration without a cake? After dinner the ladies retired to the ‘ladies lounge’ to decide on who our Ratu (Chief) was going to be at the Makogai Island ceremony. Joerg came out triumphant and is now officially known as Ratu Joerg.
We cruised to Wakaya Island for dives at Vatu Vai (manta rock) and Lion’s Den then once everyone was safely back onboard we raised the sails and had lunch as the wind took us to Makogai for a fun village tour. Ratu Joerg did us proud and represented ‘his people’ well, vinaka. Though the weather gods played tricks upon us and our planned Moon deck cocktail party was relocated to the dining deck. We had our own mini meke where the crew got everyone up dancing Fijian style with laughter so hard its amazing the local villagers didn’t call the ‘noise police’ on us. Once some sort of order was restored to this fun loving group we enjoyed a beautiful seafood smorgasbord dinner as we cruise under the stars to Namena Island.
The Namena Marine Reserve, our location for the next 2-full days diving, had pleasing sea conditions for a good start at Ned’s Nuts and Black Forest where we experienced awesome visibility over the stunning pinnacles covered with corals and anthias. Next on the agenda was Grand Central Station, The Arch and Kansas where again we were greeted by a massive diversity of marine life in every direction from schooling barracuda and trevally, grey and white tip reef sharks, dog tooth tuna right down to the fragile ornate ghost pipe fish, Severns pygmy seahorse and nudibranch. Moving Fiji Siren a short distance again we finished off with a night dive at Namena Beach Wreck. After our traditional Fijian dinner we held our photo competition, with our 3-onboard photography professionals forming the elite judging panel, the final winners were – 3rd place Terry, 2nd place Mark and in 1st place Graham. Well done guys and keep up the excellent work, you are all now official award winning photographers!
After a calm night we started the day with two great drift dives at Fantasy, one coming into the lagoon and the other on the turn of the tide going out. Next stop after lunch was Chimneys, a series of colourful and lively pinnacles with Douglas, saying ‘I could spend a week diving that one site, it must be the best dive in Fiji, the colour was just amazing’. We finished up our dive day at Namena Point.
Raising the anchor in the early hours we began our cruise back to Vatu I Ra and the Bligh Water to pay a visit to E6, a truly remarkable pinnacle which rises steeply from the seabed beneath at 1,000m (3,000’). The Cathedral proved a huge hit with our photographers giving amazing light and atmosphere for the photos.
During another mouthwatering lunch our hard-working crew washed everyone’s dive equipment and hung it out to dry, personal service with a smile and an infectious laugh all the way on the Fiji Siren. Meanwhile our guests relaxed on the sundeck, enjoyed a massage, read a book, watched in-house movies, danced on the deck to the music blaring from one of our sound systems or just had a snooze. For our final evening we dropped anchor just off Nananu I Ra Island for the night, in time for a beautiful Fijian sunset and fired up the BBQ to officially start our end of cruise party. During the evening the judging of our second photo competition of this liveaboard safari was held with 3rd place going to Mark, 2nd place winning a Fiji Siren T-shirt was Terry and the grand prize of 5 FREE nights at Volivoli Beach Resort went to Joerg.
On our last day we made the short 20-minute trip back to where it all began just over a week ago and like all things amazing unfortunately the adventure has to come to an end as the crew sang Isa lei to our departing friends…….vinaka vaka levu until next time.