29 Dec, 2015 Back to blog

" 10 Things " you might not know about Underwater Strobes

Kevin Deacon Dive 2000 Dive Travel & Photo Centre   Underwater Photography - Dive 2000

[caption id="attachment_2130" align="alignnone" width="300"]Kevin Deacon Circa 1968. 12 shot Rolliemarine by Hans Hass, 12 disposable flash bulbs for lighting. BCD's did not exist, nor air pressure gauges! Kevin Deacon Circa 1968 used a 12 shot Rolliemarine by Hans Hass and 12 disposable flash bulbs for lighting. Strobes did not yet exist![/caption]

1:  Most current popular medium power strobes today have very similar power output and features, this includes the big brand names like Inon, Ikelite and Sea & Sea. However, they do vary in price and durability so choose wisely if you do a lot of photography and travel to those `once in a lifetime dive destinations’.

[caption id="attachment_2165" align="aligncenter" width="300"]D20_8727 Strobes are often needed more for restoring colour than providing sufficient light levels needed for exposure.[/caption]

2:  Fibre Optic cables are now preferred over electrical connected cables due to ease of assembly, nil maintenance and resistance to damage.

3: The quality of fibre optic cables vary, the best brands have better light transmission, stronger construction and right angled connections to reduce strain on the cable thus minimising possible damage.

4:  When shooting with fibre optic systems, reduce your camera's strobe to its minimum flash power setting. This will extend your camera's battery life and increase the strobe's recycle speed.

[caption id="attachment_2170" align="alignnone" width="300"]Yongala_2 Photographers using strobes need to work very close to their subject. Effective strobe range is usually no more than 2 meters. ( Photo by Peter Kennedy )[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2169" align="alignnone" width="300"]KD1_1675 Subjects photographed at distances of 3 meters or more are best shot without use of strobes.[/caption]

5:  Very high illumination strobes like Seacam’s Sea Flash 150 will restore colour at greater distances than medium power strobes. On lower power settings they will also recycle fast enough to keep up with some multiple shot situations.

[caption id="attachment_2168" align="aligncenter" width="294"]History_31 Underwater photographers can never have too many strobes, Kevin Deacon travels with a minimum of four![/caption]

6:  Don’t bother shooting any subject with strobe lighting if the subject is more than two – three meters away.  All you will do is light up particles in the water column while achieving nil to little illumination of the subject. Switch to Sunlight Photography instead and seek colour with your computer software via white balance and colour level tools.

7:  Ensure you use the manufacturer's lubricants on the strobe o-rings.  Switching lubricants is a common cause of strobe floods.

[caption id="attachment_2167" align="aligncenter" width="300"]History_28 Strobes are far more powerful than video lights. This array of six 500 watt lights powered by a 240 volt generator at the surface and requiring 100 meters of cable is just equal to two medium power strobe heads. (Kevin Deacon filming on the Great Barrier Reef Circa 1984).[/caption]

8:  Rechargeable Strobe batteries must be recharged every two to three months or the batteries will fail.

9:  Strobes that feature dedicated rechargeable battery packs might not be the best choice if you only shoot occasionally as they have a limited life span and you don’t want to find yourself with failing dedicated battery packs on that `once in a lifetime trip’ !

[caption id="attachment_2166" align="aligncenter" width="289"]D21_3917-2 Long strobe arms reduce backscatter and are the strobe photographers best friend. Float arms used as part of the arm system eliminate all the weight underwater making the underwater photographer's buoyancy control, fluidity and maneuverability, perfect![/caption]

10:  Airlines now have very strict rules about spare Batteries in checked luggage and as carry on items.  Always check the current regulations to ensure these items are not going to be rejected or confiscated.

By Kevin Deacon. Dive 2000 Dive Travel & Photo Centre Underwater Photography - Dive 2000