A few months ago Elinchrom sent me a couple of their brand new strobes, the ELC Pro HD 1,000 Watt-second (Ws) monoblocs. As I have been traveling quite a bit this past summer I didn’t get around to shooting with these new strobes until last month. Because the Elinchrom ELC Pro HD strobes are designed for the studio I set up a studio space to shoot with them and invited a wide variety of athletes to come over and help me test them out. Over the course of two days, I shot with a boxer, a Kung Fu martial artist, a yogi, a skateboarder, several cross-fit athletes, an Aikido club, and an ex-pro MMA fighter. For the shoot, I used a variety of strobes, including several Elinchrom battery-powered strobes, a ring flash and of course the new ELC Pro HD units. During these two days, I wanted to play with new lighting techniques I hadn’t tried out before and I also wanted to give the ELC Pro HD strobes a good workout and see what they were capable of.

As many of you might have guessed from my adventure sports images, I tend to work with battery-powered strobes like the Elinchrom Ranger and Quadra systems. It is extremely rare that I use mono bloc style strobes on location because that would require a generator and many of my location shoots are fairly remote. In the case of the ELC Pro HD though, it has some very advanced features that are making me rethink how I use strobes on location – or at least for locations that are somewhat close to the car. As an example, the ELC strobes can fire at up to 20 frames per second. At one point I shot with my Nikon D4 at 8 frames per second for 346 shots and the strobes never missed a beat or hesitated for a second! The shot at the top of this blog post was created from this series of fast actions shots and later put together in Photoshop to create a composite. Because the strobe can fire at such a fast frame rate (at low power settings) it also allows me to capture the height of the action, as in the image below.


The ELC Pro HDs also have a stroboscopic setting, which is very interesting and allows the flash to fire at up to 20 flashes per second. To test out this mode, I had an ex-pro MMA fighter come in and punch the air while moving side to side (see images below). To create these images, we dimmed the lighting in the studio, and I set up the two ELC strobes to fire at 10 Hz (10 times per second). I set the camera’s shutter speed to 1/2th second, which resulted in 5 flashes while the shutter was open. This resulted in an image that looks like a multiple exposure, and in reality it is a multiple exposure that was created with the strobe instead of multiple shots. You can also see that there is a motion blur of the fighters arms, which was created by the modeling lights that were on during the exposure. I don’t know of any other flash that can actually achieve this look.



I also shot quite a few “standard” type portraits as well as action shots with the boxer and an Aikido club. For these shots, since the athletes where in motion, the fast flash duration of the ELCs came in handy to freeze the motion. The fastest flash duration of the ELCs is 1/5260th second (t0.5), which is more than enough to stop most motion. The other nice thing about the fast flash duration of the ELCs is that this fast flash duration is not at the lowest power setting but up at around 80 Ws, giving you a bit more power to play with. At full power, the ELCs still have a decently fast flash duration as well. The ELCs also have a 300 Watt modeling lamp that can be used in a variety of ways: video lighting, showing the motion in a still shot, etc.



All in all, these new mono blocs from Elinchrom are incredibly powerful and wicked fast. The recycle speed at full power (1,000 Ws) is 1.2 seconds, at lower power settings it is pretty much instantaneous as already discussed. Add to that the integrated OLED screen on the back of the unit, several other customizable modes and the compact nature of these mono blocs and you have a top-end strobe, comparable to any other mono bloc on the market. If you compare specs on 1,000 Ws mono blocs from Profoto, Broncolor, and several other manufacturers, the new ELCs are at the top of the pack or at least on par for most specs.

Look for a full and more complete review of these new mono blocs in the Fall 2014 issue of the Newsletter coming out later this year when I have had more time to test them out and shoot with them .

  • Mark Astmann - Thanks for the terrific overview of Elinchrom’s new ELC Pro compacts.

    I have one correction to make on this article. The modeling lights are actually 300 watts, not 600watts.

    I can’t wait to see what you do with them next.

  • Michael Clark - Thanks for the correction Mark. I have corrected that in the blog post. As always you are a great resource!

Just a note here that I have created a whole new page here on the blog that details all of the equipment that I use. You can find that new page by clicking on the Gear link at the top of this page. Below is a screenshot of that new page to give you a feel for what the Gear page looks like. There is a ton of gear featured on this page so keep scrolling down to see everything. I will be adding quick links to each section shortly.

This page details everything from the cameras and lenses I use all the way down to the computers, hard drives and even the small accessory straps that I use for my cords. Every item is linked to B&H Photo & Video. At the tope of each section is a little blurb about some of the gear items in that section. I hope this is a good resource for those that are looking to expand their kit. I will update this section as I update my gear.

Also, note that the Camera Bag section on my website, under the Behind the Scenes menu, has been updated as well with similar links to B&H. My thanks to B&H for providing the banner that will feature special offers on Nikon equipment.


manfrotto_interview_081314Manfrotto recently posted an interview I did with them on the School of Xcellence website. I have worked with Manfrotto for quite some time now and in this interview they asked some very interesting questions about my career, a few specific images, and about my workshops and upcoming projects. You can find the interview via the link above.

My thanks to Lisa Furgison and the Manfrotto School of Xcellence for tracking me down and the interview. If you would like to see the Manfrotto gear I use check out the Camera Bag page on my website, which has links to each piece of gear. 


summer_2014_smThe Summer 2014 issue of the Michael Clark Photography Newsletter is now available for download. If you’d like to sign up for the Newsletter just drop me an email and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

This issue includes an editorial about why there was no Spring 2014 Newsletter, a review of the SmallHD DP4-EVF external video monitor, an article my recent expedition in the Amazon with the CauseCentric Production crew for the documentary film Tribes on the Edge, an interview with Peter Dennen of Pedro + Jackie photo consultants, a book review of “The Rise of Superman,” an editorial entitled “Great Advice and Hard Truths,” and much more.

The Michael Clark Photography Newsletter goes out to over 6,000 thousand photo editors, photographers and photo enthusiasts around the world. You can download the Summer 2014 issue on my website at:

If you’d like to check out back issues of the newsletter they are available here.

Please note that the newsletter is best viewed in the latest Adobe Acrobat reader which is available for free at

A few months ago, the popular photography website posted an interview with yours truly entitled, “Getting into the Action with Sports Photographer Michael Clark.” I was traveling non-stop for five weeks when this interview went live but here it is just in case you missed it. To read the entire interview head on over to the website.

This interview covers a variety of topics including: how I got started, how shooting adventure sports is different than shooting “normal” sports, how I prepare for shoots, my favorite sports to shoot, what gear I use and also how I work with video. The interview starts out with the following:

“In sports and action photography, it’s almost always the subject themselves – the athletes – that get all the glory. Rarely do the men behind lens, who in actuality get into the action themselves, get any recognition for the exhilerating shots they capture. So for this month, we here at the Phoblographer are seeking to give the floor to the sports photographers, without whom the best and greatest moments in sports would never be documented.

We recently chatted with sports photographer Michael Clark, whose work has been featured in several photography magazines including Outdoor Photographer and Digital Photo Pro, to get  insights on what it’s like to be an adventure photographer.”


My thanks to Phoblographer and Michelle Rae Uy for the interview and for featuring me on the website.

Dates: February 19-22, 2015

Workshop Leaders: Brian Bielmann and Michael Clark

Location: Turtle Bay Hilton Resort, Oahu North Shore, Hawaii

About The Workshop

Join legendary surfing photographer Brian Bielman and adventure sports photographer Michael Clark for an exciting one-of-a-kind workshop that delves into the world of surfing photography. Brian is a top surfing photographer who has been shooting the sport for more than 25 years. Michael brings his adventure photography skills and knowledge as well as his in-depth experience with digital workflow to round out the workshop.

This 4-day workshop combines daily photo shoots at world-class surfing locations and classroom instruction. We will be spending half of our time shooting in the early mornings and in the late afternoon and evenings when the waves and the light are at their best. The other half of our time will be spent in the classroom. All of the classroom instruction will be centered around image critiques, discussions on gear, strategies and the business of photography as well as in-depth discussions on shooting surfing. We’ll also cover digital workflow in detail using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Version 5.X.

The workshop is scheduled during a period where large waves hit the north shore frequently. Though we cannot predict or guarantee the wave size or surfing conditions, the north shore of Oahu serves up sizable waves on a nearly daily basis.

Workshop Schedule

Day 1 – Morning
Introduction to surfing photography, gear selection, camera setup and shooting options.

Day 1 – Afternoon/Evening
Cover basic digital workflow and then head out to shoot at the world-famous Pipeline on the north shore of Oahu.

Day 2 – Morning
Dawn Patrol: Early morning surfing shoot on the north shore of Oahu – actual surf break to be determined depending on conditions.

Day 2 – Afternoon/Evening
Group critique of previous days images, discussion of underwater photography and shooting from the water. Evening shoot with strobes on the north shore of Oahu – actual surf break to be determined depending on conditions.

Day 3 – All Day
Dawn Patrol: Early morning surfing shoot on the north shore of Oahu – actual surf break to be determined depending on conditions.

Day 3 – Afternoon/Evening
Group critique of previous days images, portrait shoot on the beach with male and female surfers.

Day 4 – Morning
Dawn Patrol: Early morning surfing shoot on the north shore of Oahu – actual surf break to be determined depending on conditions.

Day 4 – Afternoon
Group critique of previous days images, wrap up and discussions on the art of surfing photography.

Please note that locations may change depending on conditions.

About the Instructors

Brian Bielman is a legendary surfing photographer. He has shot everything from fashion, to rock stars, to surf. From world champ surfers Mark Richards to Andy Irons, he has captured them all and just about everything else important that has happened on Hawaii’s North Shore since 1975. He was there to document the early days of Teahupo’o (Tahiti) and put a fresh perspective on it ten years later with his underwater images. He is well known for not only his above water surfing images but even more for his stunning underwater images of surfing. Able to shoot more than just the action Brian also captures the spirit and faces of surfing. You can see more of Brian’s work at

Michael Clark is an internationally published outdoor photographer specializing in adventure sports, travel and landscape photography. He produces intense, raw image of athletes pushing their sports to the limit and has risked life and limb on a variety of assignments to bring back stunning images of rock climbers, mountaineers, kayakers and mountain bikers in remote locations around the world. He contributes to National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Outside, Men’s Journal, Backpacker, Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Climbing, Alpinist, Rock and Ice, Bike Magazine and The New York Times among many others. You can see Michael’s work at

The Cost
The cost of this workshop is $1,295.00 per person. The same rate applies for each participant regardless of whether they are doing photography and participating in the workshop, or not. A deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot on the workshop. Final balance will be due no later than January 15, 2015.

Please note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions, such as bad weather, may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserve the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary.

The classroom portion of the workshop will be held at the Turtle Bay Resort on the north shore of Oahu. We have negotiated a group rate that is discounted from their advertised prices. To receive the discounted rate, please mention the Surfing Photography Workshop. Please note that there are few if any other hotels on this side of the island. If you would prefer to stay elsewhere there are also hotels in Haleiwa, which is 12 miles south of the hotel and approximately a 30 minute commute.

Most major airlines service the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Honolulu, the major city on the island is approximately one hour south of the north shore and our hotel. The Turtle Bay Reset is located on the northern tip of Oahu and is somewhat remote. The hotel has a restaurant, golf course, tennis courts and of course is located right next to the beach.

We do not provide transportation during the workshop. Please plan ahead and reserve a rental car. Rental cars are available in Honolulu. Of course, we will share vehicles and car pool to make life easier for all of us. We are not responsible for reimbursement of non-refundable airline tickets in the event of a workshop cancellation.

Workshop Materials
All participants will be given a copy of Michael’s e-book entitled Adobe Photoshop Lightroom:
 A Professional Photographer’s Workflow, which details his complete workflow from start to finish.

You will need to bring the following equipment with you:
• a 35mm digital SLR camera with interchangeable lenses
• a laptop computer with a USB memory key, DVD or external hard drive. Instructors will be using Apple Computers.
• Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software installed on your computer (you can download the 30-day trial version of Lightroom before the workshop if you don’t already have the software.)
• Digital memory cards with a card reader (preferably CompactFlash or Secure Digital Cards)
• power adapters and cables for laptop and digital camera
• camera manual
• batteries and charger for rechargeable batteries

It is expected that you know how to download images from your camera to the laptop, know basic editing techniques using your software, and are able to organize the edited images for critique.

Telephoto Lenses and Underwater Camera Housings
Also since surfing photography relies on large telephoto lenses, each participant will need to bring a telephoto lens that is at least 400mm. A 500mm or 600mm lens is preferred. If you don’t own one of these lenses please rent or borrow one to bring with you. Please contact Michael or Brian with any questions about lens selection and rental options. Both B&H and Samy’s Camera in the USA have rental houses that can rent these lenses. We also have a special deal with Hawaii Photo Rental Oahu who have 500mm and 600mm lenses for both Canon and Nikon and will be renting these to workshop participants at discounted rates ranging from $323 to $550. Call Josh Strickland at Hawaii Photo Rental Oahu at (808) 735-3838 for more information on renting one of these lenses.

Also, if you plan to shoot in the water please bring your underwater camera housing. Brian has several underwater housings for Canon cameras and will have these available for those that want to try them out.

If you’ve always wanted to shoot the amazing sport of surfing, then now is the time to register. Remember, there will be limited space available for this workshop. When they’re spoken for, that’s it. If you have any questions before registering, send us an e-mail with any inquiries to To register for the workshop send me an email and I’ll send you a payment request for the deposit and a packet of information about the workshop.

I am honored to announce that one of my images, shown above, was recognized in the 2014 Photo District News (PDN) Great Outdoors Photography Contest as one of the top adventure images of 2014. The image was the runner up in the “Outdoor Sports & Activities” category. It was created in January 2013 in Ouray, Colorado at the Ouray Ice Park with ice climber Dawn Glanc.

My thanks to the judges including Amy Silverman (Outside), Gaston Lacombe (ILCP), Keith Jenkins (National Geographic), Grant Ellis (Surfer Magazine) and Jon-Paul Harrison (Tandem Stills + Motion) for choosing to include my image alongside those from my peers Keith Ladzinski and Jimmy Chin. And of course, my thanks to PDN for putting on this photo competition and including my image in the latest issue of PDN and on their website.

  • Johna225 - Awesome article post.Thanks Again. Much obliged. ekbkedgdeecd