Daniel Houghton has been getting some buzz lately due to his bravery. He decided to disregard all PocketWizard warnings and use his Plus II units underwater to trigger his Profoto lighting gear. What follows is his account of the photoshoot and how he got his images.
This wasn’t my first time photographing underwater. I did learn a few things from my first time underwater with my gear. It’s always a little scary to dunk your 1D Mark IV $5,000 body with $1,600 16-35mm lens in a pool, even if it has an underwater housing. For piece of mind, I have great insurance on my gear.
I used a ewa-marine underwater housing to keep my body and PocketWizard dry. That housing has room on top for a speedlight, but I used the space for my PocketWizard Plus II. As PocketWizard clearly states, they are not meant for use underwater. It was very inconsistent about triggering my lights, but it did work. It was also pretty hard to know if it was going off or not from underwater.
I have 2 Profoto D1-250’s, and a BatPac. I really love the BatPac, because not only can it power my lights, but it can keep my laptop charged and anything else I need going. I actually used it to charge up my spare 5D Mark II battery on the way to the swimming pool that day while I was driving.
My assistant threw the BatPac over his shoulder, and handheld the D1 on full power right at the edge of the pool, just above the surface of the water. His only instructions were to aim right at Mallory while she swam her laps.
I was in the water using my snorkeling equipment to move around. I learned the first time that it’s really difficult to maneuver in the water with a camera bag full of air and gear trying to float to the surface at all times. What I really needed was a weight belt, but I can’t hold my breath for more than about a minute and a half anyway when swimming. Flippers, a snorkel, and goggles that cover your nose are pretty important in making sure you don’t end up drinking half the pool while trying to shoot.
I just had Mallory swimming some laps back and fourth in the pool for me to shoot. I spent a lot of energy swimming eight or ten feet underwater while holding my breath, only to shoot a few images on each of her passes. My D1’s had no trouble keeping up, even on full power. The recycle time is really impressive.
I ended up being in the water around an hour, mostly floating around with my gear above water talking with Mallory about what we wanted to shoot next. In addition to shooting her from the pool, I also shot portraits of her from the poolside.
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