Macro Photography Bootcamp Borneo 2015

28 March 2015

Borneo Bootcamp 2015 Journal: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Registration is closed. Email me if you wish to be notified for the next bootcamp!

After months of planning, I am pleased to announce the very first macro photography bootcamp in Borneo. This is an intense, specialized workshop designed for those with basic to intermediate experience, a feverish passion in macro photography and entomology, and a strong desire to elevate their skills to an advanced stage. At the same time, this would be a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself into the rich biodiversity of arthropods, reptiles and amphibians of Borneo’s pristine rainforests.

For those who are completely new to macro photography and are interested in an introductory workshop, please contact me at [email protected] to register interest instead. Note that I will normally respond to emails within half a day. If you did not receive any reply, please resend your email in case it got lost!

If Borneo is too far for you, I will also be a co-instructor on the other side of the globe at BugShot Belize in August 2015 together with Alex Wild, John Abbott and Thomas Shahan.


24 to 28 June 2015 (Wed-Sun, 5 Days 4 Nights)


Trip cost available only when registration is open.

Price includes:

  • Daily workshop lessons and sharing sessions
  • Access to Borneo’s pristine rainforests with about 10 field trips.
  • 2-way airport transfer via minibus
  • Accommodation in air-conditioned jungle cabin with common toilets for 4 nights (3 beds per room)
  • Shared WIFI access at accommodation and on the road, good for WhatsApp and checking email
  • Local breakfast, lunch and dinner during the stay
  • All entry fees to park and trails
  • Camera permit
  • Tips for local staff
  • Pre-trip advice and meetup session to assess equipment and get to know travel mates [optional]
  • Dedicated Facebook group for follow-up advice and discussions

Price excludes:

  • Airfare
    • From Singapore

      Singapore – Johor Bahru (JB) – Tawau*

      Approx S$100 on AirAsia

      AirAsia customers can book free shuttle bus services from Singapore to Senai Airport in Johor Bahru and vice versa. It is faster and cheaper than flying via Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu.

      1. 0600: Board Cross-Border Bus from Kranji MRT, Queens Street or Newton Circus to Malaysia CIQ
      2. 0700: Board Sky Shuttle Bus at Malaysia CIQ at Bay 24
      3. 0900: Check in at Senai Airport
      4. 1040-1320: Flight from JB to Tawau* (AK5596, 2h40m)
      1. 1200: Check in at Tawau Airport
      2. 1345-1620: Flight Tawau* to JB (AK5597, 2h35m)
      3. 1700: Board Sky Shuttle Bus from Senai Airport to Malaysia CIQ
      4. 1800: Board Cross-Border Bus from Malaysia CIQ to Kranji MRT, Queens Street or Newton Circus

      CIQ – Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex

      * Tawau is near the eastern coast of Borneo, there is no direct flight from Singapore.

    • From other parts of the world, please fly via Kuala Lumpur

      Kuala Lumpur – Tawau

      International participants arriving via Kuala Lumpur should take the 1000h-1255 (AK5746) flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau via AirAsia on 24 June 2015.

  • Photography equipment (bring your own gear!)


  1. Burning passion in macro photography
  2. Keen interest in arthropods, reptiles and amphibians
  3. DSLR or a good mirrorless digital camera
  4. Dedicated macro lens capable of 1:1 magnification, preferably between 60mm to 105mm
  5. Close up filters: Raynox DCR150 or Raynox DCR250
  6. External flash
  7. Wireless trigger and additional external flash (for back-lighting)
  8. Tripod
  9. Laptop for post processing lessons and sharing session
  10. Powerful lightweight torch for night shoots
  11. Basic proficiency in Adobe Photoshop


Some things that you should know about the accommodation. Note that this is an old jungle cabin and not a luxury stay!

  • All rooms have 3 beds and are air-conditioned with ceiling fan
  • Each room has 2 power sockets only, please bring multi-plugs for charging your batteries
  • Separated male and female common toilets and cubicle showers
  • Showers are not heated, they can get cold at night!
  • You may wash your clothes – there are shared clothes lines for you to hang your clothes out to dry
  • There is no fridge, but we can loan a kettle from the park office
  • They do not provide free internet, but I will provide basic WIFI access to be shared at the cabin.
  • A small shop selling snacks is accessible in the day
  • Meals will be at a common “canteen” area where you can also buy drinks
  • Lessons will be in a sheltered common area just in front of the rooms

Tips for the Trip

  • Get a lightweight but powerful torch light for searching in the night
  • Get spare batteries and chargers that can handle multiple batteries
  • Borrow extra memory cards from your friends 🙂
  • Rig a focusing light on your camera instead of holding a light with your hand
  • Do more field shoots prior to the trip, note down any problems that you face
  • Bring a hat, it blocks the sun from your eyes while shooting
  • Bring leech socks (can also be purchased from park office at RM10)
  • Bring mosquito repellent
  • Pack light – it is a considerable walk from vehicle drop-off point to the cabin


 Day 1
24 Jun
Day 2
25 Jun
Day 3
26 Jun
Day 4
27 Jun
Day 5
28 Jun
7amBoard Cross-Border Bus at Kranji MRT, Queens Street or Newton CircusFree timeFree timeFree timeCasual shoot around cabin
8amBoard Sky Shuttle Bus at Malaysia CIQ at Bay 24BreakfastBreakfastBreakfast
9amCheck in at Senai AirportField TripField TripField TripFree time / Packup
10amFlight from JB to Tawau
You may wish to buy in-flight meals at approx RM18
11amMinibus to Tawau Airport
12pmCheck in at Tawau Airport
1pmLunchLunchLunchFlight from Tawau to JB
2pmMinibus to supermarket for personal grocery shoppingField TripField TripField Trip
4pmCheck in at jungle cabins
5pmWelcome to Borneo Bootcamp!Free timeFree timeFree timeBoard Sky Shuttle Bus to Malaysia CIQ
6pmDinnerDinnerDinnerSpecial Dinner / AwardsBoard Cross-Border Bus to Kranji MRT, Queens Street or Newton Circus
  • Lighting
  • Composition
  • Finding subjects
  • Focusing techniques
  • Tips
  • Photo ReviewPhoto Review 
  • Image Processing
  • Basic Focus Stacking
  • Advanced Techniques
  • Ultraviolet photography
  • Backlighting
  • Q&A / Open Discussion
    9pmNight ShootNight ShootNight ShootNight Shoot

    Note: Schedule may be subject to changes.

    Field Trips

    • All trails are just a short walk from the cabins.
    • The terrain is relatively flat – there is minimal to no climbing involved in the trails.
    • Participants may be split into 2 groups during field trips, each led by an instructor or assistant instructors.

    Ground Rules

    As with all trips, there are ground rules to follow. By signing up for the trip, you agree to the following rules.

    1. Observe shooting etiquette

      1. Finders shoot first

        The one who finds the subject will have the right to shoot first, the rest who are interested to shoot should take a “queue number”.

      2. Share your finds

        Share what you find with others, and let everyone take a basic shot before going closer for high magnification shots.

      3. Slow shooters shoot later

        If you know that you take very long for your shots, let other faster participants shoot first.

      4. Keep volume low

        Do not shout or talk loudly when others are shooting, loud noise can scare skittish subjects away.

      5. Be magnanimous

        It is common for subjects to escape or disappear when you are shooting. It will happen to everyone, so refrain from blaming anyone when it happens, be magnanimous and move on.

    2. Specimen collection

      This is a photography workshop and not a collection trip for entomologists. Please discuss with me via email first if you really need to collect specimens.

    Pre-trip Session

    There may be a short pre-trip meetup at least a month before the trip.

    • Assess camera equipment, determine what to buy or change
    • Get to know fellow travel mates


    Seats are limited, and secured only after confirmation of payment. To register for this bootcamp, contact me at with the following details. This page will be updated should all the seats be filled. Register early to avoid disappointment!

    • Name in passport
    • Passport expiry date
    • Nationality
    • Gender
    • Contact number
    • Emergency contact
    • Any medical condition that I should be aware of
    • Room preference: Single/Double/Triple
    • Room mate preference if attending with a friend
    • Arrival timing at Tawau Airport
    • Dietary restrictions (if any)
    • Payment mode

      • Bank transfer (Singapore banks only)
      • Paypal (Invoice in USD, +5% surcharge, please provide Paypal account email)
    • Camera equipment details
    • Describe your macro photography experience, and online portfolio if available
    • Your expectations for this bootcamp

    If you are absolutely keen on this bootcamp but are not available during these dates, contact me regarding your interest so that I can notify you for the next bootcamp.

    Have questions? Ask below! Alternatively, send me a message on Facebook.

    Meanwhile, here are some shots that I have taken at the bootcamp venue recently. However, as all macro photographers would know, there is no guarantee in sighting any particular subject as some are only prevalent during certain months of the year.

      Giant shield bug (Tessaratomidae) - DSC_3224
    1. Giant shield bug (Tessaratomidae)

      Some of the most colourful shield bugs could be found here. We found one just outside the toilet.

    2. Lantern bug (Pyrops whiteheadi) - DSC_3952b
    3. Lantern bug (Pyrops whiteheadi)

      The venue is home to at least 3 different species of lantern bugs. Sighting them is not difficult, but getting an angle to photograph them depends a lot on luck!

    4. Lantern bug (Pyrops sidereus) - DSC_3088
    5. Lantern bug (Pyrops sidereus)

      Some of the lantern bugs have distinct host trees, and the chances of finding them would be much higher with an experienced guide.

    6. Huntsman spider (Sparassidae) - DSC_5372
    7. Huntsman spider (Sparassidae)

      This giant and colourful huntsman spider was spotted just 50m away from the cabins.

    8. Golden blue ant (Polyrhachis sp.) - DSC_3429
    9. Golden blue ant (Polyrhachis sp.)

      These ants were brilliantly coloured with a metallic blue abdomen.

    10. Giant shield bug (Tessaratomidae) with cordyceps fungus -  DSC_3336
    11. Giant shield bug (Tessaratomidae)

      Unfortunately we also found many shield bugs infected with cordyceps fungus.

    12. Longhorn orb web spider (Macracantha arcuata) - DSC_3851
    13. Longhorn orb web spider (Macracantha arcuata)

      Probably the longest horns on any spider in the region, the longhorn orb web spider is a common sight near to the cabins.

    14. Blue harvestman (Opiliones) - DSC_4466
    15. Harvestman (Opiliones)

      Who would have imagined that a harvestman could be blue?

    16. Giant river toad (Phrynoidis juxtasper) - DSC_5020
    17. Giant river toad (Phrynoidis juxtasper)

      Some of the toads by the river were huge, spanning 20cm in length.

    18. Rhino beetle (Dynastinae) - DSC_5397
    19. Rhino beetle (Dynastinae)

      This rhino beetle flew to us near the cabin, which gave us the opportunity to take some wide angle shots when we were checking out on the last day.

    View the findings from the previous trip here:

    Tawau Hills [ Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 ]

    UPDATED: View the journal for this trip here:

    Borneo Bootcamp 2015: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4




    Hi my name is Nicky Bay. I am a macro photographer, instructor and book author, travelling the world to document the vast micro biodiversity that nature has to offer. Follow my updates and discover with me the incredible beauty and science behind our planet's micro creatures!

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