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    © Michael Clark

    Reach For More

    Mixing an exceptional camera with powerful ELB lights to take images to the next level.

    By Michael Clark

    Photographer Michael Clark takes us through using the new FUJIFILM GFX 100 medium format camera along with his Elinchrom ELB units to create unique outdoor images.

    Clark mixes this powerful new camera with Elinchrom lights to take his images to the next level.

    Climber: Savannah Cummins

    f/5 at 1/1,600s, ISO 1250, GFX 100, ELB 1200 + HS head at full power + High Performance Reflector.

    Over the last few years, with the rise of mirrorless cameras, I have been trying out all the different mirrorless options. Last fall they announced the development of the GFX 100 and my interest was piqued.

    I have been dreaming for many years of having a medium format camera that was as fast as my DSLRs and also had the ultimate image quality—and would work with my Elinchrom strobes as well.

    © Michael Clark

    I love to add advanced lighting techniques to any and every assignment I work on.

    I chose to go old-school.

    In my twenty-three years as an adventure sports photographer I have photographed just about every outdoor sport. For this assignment with Fujifilm, I chose to go old-school and set up both a rock climbing and a downhill freeride mountain biking shoot. These two sports offered up a wide variety of scenarios that would nicely show off the capabilities of the GFX 100.

    Both the ELB 1200 and the ELB 500 TTL flash units.

    Of course, keeping with my current style, I love to add advanced lighting techniques to any and every assignment I work on. Elinchrom is the only flash manufacturer that creates both High Speed Sync (HSS) and Hi-Sync (HS) style battery-powered strobe units.

    Climber: Savannah Cummins

    f/4 at 1/2,500s, ISO 200, GFX 100 + ELB 1200 + HS head at full power + High Performance Reflector.

    Head to Indian Creek.

    I decided to head to Indian Creek, Utah, which is one of my favorite climbing areas. Indian Creek is home to a very specific type of traditional climbing on splitter cracks that are typically the same width for the entire climb.

    Capturing rock climbing is physically intense.

    Capturing the sport of rock climbing is physically intense. It involves carrying huge backpacks loaded with climbing gear, ropes, food and water as well as camera gear up to the base of the cliff. These packs can weigh up to 34 kg (75 pounds) and that is without lighting gear. Add in lighting gear and the packs start to get really heavy.

    For this shoot, Ted my assistant/climber was there not only to help carry some of the gear to the base of the cliff but to also be up on the wall holding my ELB 1200 pack and an HS flash head.

    Ted could just about climb anything I pointed at, which was critical, because we typically placed him on an adjacent route across from or next to the one that our climber model Savannah, climbed. For this assignment, having the right crew had a huge impact on the quality of the final images.

    "The Elinchrom High-Performance reflector was key to boosting the light."

    One of the best images we produced was captured on the very first shoot day (shown above).

    We had Ted our assistant posted up on a route across from and above "Go Sparky Go". Ted, and the flash, were approximately 12 meters (40-feet) from the climber. The Elinchrom High-Performance reflector was key to boosting the light so it could reach her.

    With a little experimentation, we were able to dial in the lighting and then waited for the route to be shaded. I underexposed the background by about two-thirds of a stop to create the dark, ominous clouds.

    © Michael Clark
    f/2.8 at 1/1,600s, ISO 200, GFX 100, ELB 500 TTL + Rotalux Deep Octa (100cm)

    The key factor

    When using flash to light up climbers on a rock face, having a unit with a lot of power is the key factor. As is the Hi-Sync (HS) flash technology, which allows me to overpower the sun from up to 18 m (60-feet) away. § For all of the actions shots, I used the ELB 1200 with the HS flash heads to light up the athletes.

    We also shot a variety of portraits as well and for those images I used the ELB 500 TTL because it too can sync at all shutter speeds with the GFX 100 and also because it is so easy to use.

    Get into position.

    With climbing photography, it takes a lot of time to get into position. When artificial lighting is introduced, it takes even more time to get the light in position and then line up the shot.

    Once Ted was in position, we sorted out the lighting. With some experimentation we figured out that if Ted bounced the light off the wall behind the climber, the light quality dramatically improved.

    Create something new and different.

    The intent here with using artificial lighting was to create something new and different. Not many photographers have used artificial lighting in Indian Creek. The amount of work involved is kind of ridiculous. § But on each of these climbs (and others) we ended up creating images that are completely new and different than what has been created in the past.

    The hope is that we have created something stunning and aesthetic as well.

    © Michael Clark


    Savannah Cummins

    Angela Van Wiemeersch


    Michael Clark

    Assistant and climber

    Ted Hesser

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    Photo © Michael Clark | Athlete: Savannah Cummins | FUJIFILM GFX 100 Digital Camera with FUJINON GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR and using ELB 500 TTL and ELB 1200 HS lighting equipment provided by Elinchrom | Michael Clark is a compensated professional photographer. FUJIFILM, FUJINON, and BUILD YOUR LEGACY are trademarks of FUJIFILM North America Corporation and is affiliates. All rights reserved.

    Michael's To Go Set

    • ELB 1200 Hi-Sync To Go

      ELB 1200 Hi-Sync To GoN° 10305.1

      The Hi-Sync To Go option.

      This set is optimised to freeze motion, overpower the sun, darken backgrounds and use wider apertures with higher shutter speeds, using the optional Skyport transmitter Plus HS.

      The Skyport Plus HS Transmitter is not included and must be ordered separately.

      Supplied with: 1x Location Bag. 1x ELB 1200 unit. 1x Li-Ion Air Battery. 1x Hi-Sync Head. 1x Snappy

    • ELB 500 TTL To Go

      ELB 500 TTL To GoN° 10309.1

      The ELB 500 TTL To Go is the ideal set to enjoy total freedom in a lightweight and portable solution while still delivering 400 full power flashes on a single charge. Freeze motion in action mode or use HSS, rely on the battery for on location work or plug it in the mains while shooting in studio with the Active Charge feature.

      The Elinchrom Transmitter Pro is not included in this set and must be order separately. Transmitters are available for Canon and Nikon. Other brands will follow later.

    • Rotalux® Softbox Deep Octa 100 cm

      Rotalux® Softbox Deep Octa 100 cmN° 26185

      This narrow shaped Deep Octa reduces the spread of light and offers sharper shadows compared to standard sized octagonal softboxes. It provides a very even diffuse light over the front screen and is an excellent crispy and direct light when used without diffusers to give a beauty dish look. 

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