Pimp My Light, Submariner Version

UPDATE: From the comments, this suggestion for the final layer of protection: The Pelican 1060 Micro Case, with clear lid. I would line the inside with white paper and maybe stick a StoFen on the flash, too.

UPDATE #2: We have a winner. Check out this fantastic, DIY PVC housing before trusting your baby to zip-lock bags.


Strobist reader Maneeacc has more guts than I do, sticking an SB-800 underwater to light from below sea level.

Actually, I have done this before. But I would use an S-26 for this task, as it is about $200 less gutsy.

He is using three zip-lock bags to stave off the $320.00 water for long enough to make his photos. I would suggest a mod that will offer more protection for his flash, while giving him better light. First of all, I'd wrap the flash in two layers of (neutral colored) condoms, as they offer form-fitting water protection.

Use the largest sized condom you can find, to avoid overstretching. Which means you get to go into the drugstore and ask, with a perfectly straight face, for the absolute largest sized condoms they sell.

Be sure to use a spacer of some kind if you are gonna shoot at high power levels, so as not to cook the condom to your flash head. Which would be kinda hard to explain to your camera repair tech.

But further, I would suggest putting the flash, slaved, in a decent-sized, frosted white tightly sealed tupperware container. Stick the appropriate amount of weight in there for neutral buoyancy and you are good to go with a safer, softer light source.

That said, if you are gonna go sticking your flashes underwater, you are totally on your own. Test, test, test.

And if you do not have an optical slave, this is one area where Gadget Infinity radios trump Pocket Wizards, for hundred$ of reasons.

(Cool shots, Nafis.)


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Blogger noah said...

Wow, i came across the fourth paragraph and i had to comment...that was funny...anyways, i'm going to read the rest of it now. Thanks. - Noah Nott

July 20, 2007 4:33 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Peli do some clear watertight cases that are practically indestructible. I normally use the black ones for lugging gear when travelling but the clear cases would be ideal for a flash underwater

July 20, 2007 6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like a great way to get electrocuted!

July 20, 2007 9:34 AM  
Blogger Stephan Ahonen said...

This is a bit OT, but I've got my first big shoot today for a local band, I'll be putting everything I've learned here at Strobist to use for the first time in a real practical situation. Wish me luck!

July 20, 2007 10:00 AM  
Blogger Patrick Smith said...

Awesome! Since Sundy when I asked I've wanted to do it. Very cool.

July 20, 2007 11:20 AM  
Blogger rich said...

Don't use anything less than a "pelican 1060" clear case type of container as the last layer of protection.
For you and your model. It's worth the $20.

July 20, 2007 11:21 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

Or you could use something made for this.

July 20, 2007 1:15 PM  
Blogger Sean Fenzl said...

I'd consider using one of those zip-closed waterproof electronics bags (I have one for my GPS/iPod when I'm kayaking). They're reasonably cheap, and because they're flexible, you'd be able to rotate your flash head into the standard position inside the bag.

Something like this

July 20, 2007 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot to say "non-lubricated".

July 20, 2007 2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lubed condoms might be bad.

We used to put wireless mic packs in normal unlubed ones, it worked pretty well.

I also recall reading in sports shooter that pocketwizards won't work under water.

July 20, 2007 2:58 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

It's probably not that dangerous, actually. Battery sources are isolated: what goes out one end must come in the other end.

It's not like a hair dryer which is literally connected to earth. Your electrolyte filled body makes such an easy path between the hot line and earth.

It'll wipe your gear out in a "flash", sure. But your model would probably be all right.

Yeah - and radio waves don't generally work too well underwater The US Navy can make some stuff work, but only by using extremely low frequency and antenna hundreds of yards long.

No warranty expressed or implied. Your mileage may vary. For Pete's sake - don't take my word for it, but let's not freak out.

July 20, 2007 3:54 PM  
Blogger Hoainam said...

The biggest condoms are the Magnum brand. Seriously.

No more questions please.

July 20, 2007 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm no hippy, but I went to Mountain Equipment Co-op in Canada (and probably all over). For about $10 you get 4 clear plastic ziplock type bags, 2 of which are big enough for a flash. They are US Navy tested waterproof to 200 ft. I tried them in my pool on my flashes. Perfect.
Aloksak is the name on the bag in front of me here. Super cheap, and fully guaranteed. They're tremendousacle.


July 20, 2007 5:13 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

@Stephan Ahonen - The plug your nikon and motorola use is called a USB Mini-B. It's a standard plug that all small devices should use.

July 20, 2007 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

with all the Strobist business pouring into Amazon, you'd think they could spring for a 'larger' image that actually is.

But those bags sound good, too.

July 20, 2007 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's probably not that dangerous, actually."

I opened a very inexpensive AA-powered digicam with a pretty weak flash to try to repair some buttons and as I was handling it I touched the bottom of the capacitor. It was quite a shock and left two white dots on my hand for many days. I don't know how much the capacitor in something like an SB-800 holds, but it seems like it could give you quite the shock.

July 20, 2007 6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would get real waterproof bags, as another poster suggested. but if i were stuck using zip top bags, i would place some absorbent material between two of the layers, something like a huge wad of paper towels or something. i would also keep an eye on the paper towels since they would probably be a good indicator if/when the outer zip top bag fails.

July 20, 2007 9:40 PM  
Blogger Brian Faini said...

posted this on flickr thought i would help spread it...


July 21, 2007 1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those fantasea folks are flat out crazy. Their cases are the same price as a brand new SB-800.

I'll go with the Aloksak bags at $10.50 for a 3 pack, or the Pelican case for $19, thank you.

July 21, 2007 4:49 AM  
Anonymous Mickey said...

I have been lurking here for a long time but finally have a useful comment to add.

YOu have seen them on tv info mercials and I am not conneted with them but do like their products. ANd if needed you can store all your gear in them as they have several sizes. Use a SpaceSaver bag. Some rull up to creat a positive presure everionment the others have a vacum port for removing the unwanted air. But in all cases they are alot thicker than the garden varity of ziplock bags and are water resistant at a miniumn. I hope this helps as aI never had a need to use them for that yet I use them when packing regulary and for storing large items like comforters and other bed dressings. that are seasonal. Wash the item and throw it in the bag and it it good until I need it again and if I want I can always slip a dryer sheet in for some added smells.

December 02, 2007 4:34 AM  

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