Portable and Powerful: Action Shooter Michael Clark on the ELB 400

May 2, 2016

By RF Staff

Sponsored by Elinchrom

© Michael Clark

Maxime Genoud in-line skating in an indoor skate park in Lausanne, Switzerland. © Michael Clark

Action, travel and landscape photographer Michael Clark has traveled the globe to capture dramatic images of highly trained athletes in the most challenging settings. In many of his shots, you can almost feel your adrenaline rise. That’s because Clark always conveys the intensity of his subjects, whether they’re hanging precariously from a cliff in the scorching sun in Mallorca, Spain, nearly submerged in a kayak in the whitewater of the Rio Grande, or climbing an ice-covered cliff in Ouray, Colorado.

Clark requires an extremely portable flash for his work, and he uses Elinchrom's ELB 400 portable flash system, Quadra HS Flash Heads and Skyport Plus HS transmitter. They’re essential tools that allow him to work in the unpredictable light of the great outdoors in much the same way he can in the controlled illumination of a studio setting. "This is the most portable battery-powered lighting solution that I have seen," says Clark. "In one photo backpack, I can drop in two ELB 400s with two flash heads, a Skyport transmitter, a camera and three lenses. Basically, I have a full lighting kit along with my camera kit that I can easily take out on a shoot."

© Michael Clark

Daniel Coriz at the Santa Fe dirt jumps just off highway 599 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. © Michael Clark

The flash system is versatile as well as being portable. On a recent outdoor photo shoot, where Clark was documenting the acrobatic skills of BMX bike jumpers at the Santa Fe dirt jumps in New Mexico, he employed the Skyport Plus HS transmitter to not just help him freeze the action, but also to quickly alter the output of his strobes. "Having a transmitter that can reliably trigger hidden strobes with Hi-Sync technology is an amazing new development," Clark says. "The transmitter allows me to change the power settings of the strobes without having to walk over to them," he adds, which saves him time.

But it’s the technology available in this flash system that really impresses Clark. Take one of his shots from the Santa Fe dirt jumps: With the ELB 400 system, he can photograph a dirt biker high above the ground, suspended on his BMX bike, where he seems to defy the laws of gravity. “Notice that there is no motion blur of any kind in this image,” says Clark. “The rider is tack-sharp and frozen in mid-air.”

© Michael Clark

Portrit of BMX rider Daniel Coriz at the Santa Fe dirt jumps just off highway 599 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. © Michael Clark

At the same BMX shoot, Clark also wanted to capture more personal portraits. The ELB 400’s Hi-Sync technology, he says, gives him the ability to shoot with large apertures and control the brightness of the background. "[It’s] perfect when shooting portraits or lifestyle-type images where you really want to isolate the subject," he explains.

The value of the ELB 400 flash system lies in its flexibility. It’s powerful, exceptionally portable, and allows photographers to pivot between styles quickly. It’s a revelation for outdoor and action photography.

© Michael Clark

Left: The Elinchrom ELB 400 strobe. Right: The Elinchrom Skyport Plus HS. © Michael Clark

To learn more about the Elinchrom ELB 400 flash system, the Quadra HS Flash Heads and the Skyport Plus HS transmitter, visit