Snoots and how to build one cheap

As I am giving a brief chat at the next OCUPS meeting, what better time to write a small “how to” on building your own fiber optic snoot, with some accompanying samples and info of course.

The “What”

In the simplest terms, snoots shape your light. They do so in a couple of ways, from restricting the beam angle, to channeling the light along flexible fiber optics or through glass lenses to achieve a desired shape or distribution of light. Snoots are tools to help capture a specific images, or improve your images certain conditions.

The “Why”

They are fun! Seriously, snoots are a good way to mix it up if you are ever getting bored.
After that wears off, you’ll find in some situations they are almost essential. If you ever find a subject that you can’t separate from its background, for example a white cuttlefish against a white sponge, a snoot can help!   Animals that look just like their surroundings are prime candidates to use a snoot on too.

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The other HUGE benefit for me diving locally, a snoot restricts the cone of light so I have less back scatter! This is a big problem for me shore diving where I have to deal with surge or just lots of stuff in the water. Octopus hiding back in a hole are otherwise impossible to shoot without getting really creative and or lucky.

The “How much”

With minimal tools or effort, you can absolutely fashion something that is both cheap, and also quite capable. Which of the following shots was shot with a $30 DIY snoot and which was shot with a $200 or $300 snoot? (hint: there are 3 diff snoots used in these)


A Yellow Pygmy Goby (Lubricogobius exiguus) with eggs perches on top of its parchment tube home.


Personally, I find the fiber optic snoot easier to use for the simple fact, I can put the tip of the fiber optics into my field of view, line up the shot, and then pull it up just out of the frame. There is absolutely a steeper learning curve to snoots, the first dives will be a little frustrating but you’ll soon see what new opportunities there are with an added tool at your disposal.

The “How to”

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Building a DIY snoot similar to what I did should put you in the $20-30 range. If you are at all curious, or serious about your photography, try a snoot! Cost cannot be a factor.

Parts List

The base is a 4 inch pvc cap, from one of the random aisles of Lowes: $6-7

The flexible tubing is 12 inches of 1/2 inch Loc-Line (check ebay): $8

Approx 4 ft of multi-strand fiber optic: $15

Lastly, epoxy to glue the loc-line onto the base: $5 (I had some around the house already)

Pretty simple, I mis-used a drill with some sort of grinding bit to carve out the holes for the loc-line, stripped and stuffed the fiber optic cable into the arm and then glued that in place. Since it wasn’t a perfect fit, I glued some strips of foam I had lying around (purchased to test for buoyancy on my rig ) to help get tension to keep it on my strobe and lastly, a rope and clip to attach it to my bcd or to my rig when in use.

You’ll want the hole in the pvc pipe to align with the flash tube on your strobe.   It’s also super helpful if your focus light can illuminate the fiber optic as well, as that helps you see the tip of the snoot for aiming!

Final Notes

In terms of using the snoot, get out and practice!  Night dives are definitely easier.  Start with a shorter lens such as a 60 mm macro, pull the snoot down into view (typically top down, but not always) at a distance that gives you the magnification you want, pull it up out of view and then don’t adjust your lens auto focus.  By using focus lock, you’ll be able to swim around and line up shots on anything and everything and snap away and the snoot will be aimed right where you need it.

Ok, enough words – more snooted pics!





An ambush predator, frogfish have specialized lures that are used to attract unsuspecting prey.


  1. Delores
    February 5, 2017

    I found this very informative and easy to understand. Makes me want to learn how to dive and photograph those little critters. It is always so facinating to see the photoes not to mention the stories behind the shots. Thanks again for somemore of the story. 👍🏻

  2. […] Using tools on the fly, such as a clam shell, is great for spontaneous photography, but sometimes we must plan ahead and bring tools with us.  One of the most well-known tools for macro photography is the snoot.  Snoots are devices that attach to the end of your strobe that shape the light by reducing the beam angle of your strobe.  This has the effect of putting a spotlight on your subject without lighting up the surrounding area.  It is an especially effective tool for isolating your subject.  Snoots vary in design and can be purchased or homemade. […]

  3. April 12, 2017

    Essentially, Tyson Waggener’s reflector is two foamcore boards taped together, with each side spray-painted either black, silver, or gold, and one side left white.

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