Shooting underwater already comes with many obstacles in terms of visibility, posing, light, and clarity. Thankfully lighting can easily be taken off this list in many cases with a few sets up from the surface. Connecting your land strobes to underwater is not as difficult as one may think.
The Aquatica Water Wizard system is a great piece of equipment to have on hand for shooting underwater. Prior to learning about this device, it was all underwater strobes and ambient light from above the surface to light my subjects. Now adding a new source will change the way I can shoot.
How It Works
The Water Wizard works with two Pocket Wizard Plus III Transceivers, one attached to the strobe system above and the other is placed inside the water wizard itself. The cord is then run from the Water Wizard to the bulkhead connecter interface on the Ikelite. It is waterproof up to 150 feet with buoyancy floats for the deeper water.
Using a 15-foot sync extension cord to connect the Ikelite housing underwater to the Water Wizard floating on the surface was an extra purchase. However, this cord allowed me to move throughout the pool without having to worry about pulling the Water Wizard too far under the surface and losing connection with the AlienBees. If you are going to attempt using strobes on land by the pool, exercise safety first by using an external battery system and not plugging strobes directly into outlets. This is just common sense when there is water involved, especially when you are in that body of water.
The consistent firing was quite impressive. Only one time it failed to fire and I believe it was on my end from shooting too fast. The images below are directly one after another in firing, the lighting triggered for the second. There is no postproduction added in order to show the light coming in from the right.
What I Liked
The reliable firing of the units was truly amazing given the circumstances of being underwater. The units were extremely easy to connect to all ports and Pocket Wizards. The ability to go from shooting land shots to underwater without changing equipment made the workflow of swim team sessions fluid.
What I Did Not Like
The long cord needed for connection from the surface to the housing creates a lot of entanglement when getting the shots. We tried attaching it to the edge but then it created lack of movement for myself when shooting. While this is a small issue, I still believe the ability to successfully trigger strobes on land consistently without fail override the annoyance of a longer cord.
Recommendations for Future Shoots
I highly recommend purchasing a dual sync cord as while the light above was sufficient, another light under the surface was desired for the looks that were being shot. Using an assistant to hold an underwater flashlight would work but the extra access cord for the strobe would be another option.
The Aquatica Water Wizard is not only useful for underwater photography but any photography where water is involved such as surf, wildlife, sports, or any situation where your triggers need to be protected from the elements.