Gallery: “World Champion Sebastien Kienle” – LAVA Magazine Cover

Triathlete Sebastian Kienle

If the phrase “World Champion” precedes your name you’re pretty much a bad-ass. Sebastien Kienle is no exception. The 2012 70.3 World Champion hailing from Germany was in the lead at his first Kona Ironman World Championships last year, en route to crush the bike course record, when not only did he manage to get one flat tire, but two. And he still finished fourth at the end of the day.

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I caught up with Kienle in St. George Utah before his 70.3 race there, to shoot him for the July cover of Lava Magazine. After hanging out with him for a couple days I realized the guy’s a machine, down to earth, and he will be in the lead again in Kona. I used my Nikon D800 paired with the Pocket Wizard Flex TT with the new beta firmware, to consistently freeze action shooting over 1000th of a second synched with profoto 7b strobes! Here are some of my favorite pics from our shoot, hope you enjoy!

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Washington Nationals Spring Training Shoot 2013

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National League Rookie of the Year, Bryce Harper standing strong with the curly W.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to fly out to Florida for a week to shoot my fourth campaign for the Washington Nationals  before their spring training began. The Nats have a great young squad, including National League Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper, and they picked up some key position players in the off season. In 2012 the Washington Nats won 98 games which is more then most expected and is a great sign of possibly an even better 2013 season. And with this being Davey Johnson’s final year as a baseball manager for the Nats, I’m sure everyone on the team is going to push themselves that much harder.

For the first couple of days we set up our lighting equipment on the open practice field like years past on the pitchers mound and on homplate, then ran through a series of shots with most of the athletes. The lighting setup consisted of two beauty dishes with diffusers over them to soften the light a bit and a light with narrow grid spot to focus the light on the face. A large scrim jim reflector was also used to cut the face shadow and add a little more detail. All of this was used with Profoto lights and 7b Profoto battery packs, synched with pocket wizard FlexTT on hypersynch to freeze the action.

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Behind the scenes with Jordan Zimmerman…

From this setup we would move to another location nearby to shoot players gritty portraits of players in dugout as well as looking out on the field. The lighting on the majority of these shots was much more simple using a reflector and maybe one strobe with softbox. Being able to move and shoot as quickly as possible was important when moving with these athletes from location to location, because you don’t want to loose their interest or waste their time!

But having the ability to improvise is very important as a photographer. Once we realized it was going to rain on our final 3 days of the shoot we had to move our main setup to the concourse of Space Coast Stadium so we could keep everything dry. Luckily for us there was an open area for a clear shot of the sky in the background, where we could position the players ontop of large steel benches to create the illusion that we were shooting on the field with a blue sky day (when actually it was really cold and wet outside). The rain ended up being  a blessing in disguise because these shots ended up being my favorites with a very heroic feel larger-than-life players dramatically lit against a beautiful sky.

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The days were long and started before sunrise and ended near sunset, but it was such a great experience getting to work with these players once again. Having the players be on first name basis and be comfortable with you, is a huge asset which really translates into the photos. This was my 4th campaign with the Nats and it has been a pleasure to see them grow, see their huge upside and the potential they have towards making it to the World Series. Big thanks to Chad Kurz, John Guagliano, Jacqueline Coleman, Dave Lundin, Meghan Garner, Lara Potter and Andrew Feffer of the Washington Nationals, my man John Trotter from 40/40, my assistants Octavian Cantilli and Brandon Magnus, and Stash & Dan and the video crew at East Pleasant. And of course the Washington Nationals Players!

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Dick’s Sporting Goods Running Shoot

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Panoramic view of runners on the boardwalk in the Palmetto Marsh.

Once again I had the great opportunity to do a campaign with Dick’s Sporting Goods for their upcoming 2013 Running Catalogue and commercial imagery. The assignment was in Charleston, South Carolina for about 4 days where we had the chance to shoot in some very beautiful spots which included the streets of old plantation houses, Palmetto Marsh, and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Shooting running was similar to shooting golf, looking for the right light is key for making the picture successful.

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The weather was all over the place, one moment it would be sunny with some scattered clouds, the next it would be dumping buckets of rain. Luckily we decided to take some pictures in the late afternoon after the 1st day of scouting and ended up with some beautiful running shots with the sun setting in the background over the marsh and some shrimping boats. On the 2nd day we had pumped out most of the shots that we needed at the marsh trails in the morning and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge before the rain started coming down hard around noon. At one point we sat in the trailer with the crew and all the models trying to wait for the rain to pass.

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The crew waits out the rain in our production trailer. Thankfully we had good company and good food!

The highlights of the shoot for me were watching the sun come up over the Palmetto Marsh (and squeezing in our shots before the rain came!) and closing down the streets of downtown Charleston for our marathon shot. Here’s a funny video my assistant Brandon Magnus took of me directing traffic:

We also had one free shoot day when we decided to shoot youth soccer to fill in some content for the Dicks library. It’s always a nice change of pace when you go from shooting refined professional athletes-slash-models to young kids who just want to play sport. We couldn’t hope to direct or even contain the little monsters, so for the most part we set up game situations and had them run through it while I shot, which worked perfectly.

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General view of marathon with street closure in the streets of downtown Charleston.

This was another fantastic experience and pleasure to work with Dick’s Sporting Goods team, and I look forward to our next shoot together! Big thanks to Scott Lenz, Peter Ahi, Kim McEniry, Barry Berenson, Pat Hugg, Zach Schefer, Brandon Magnus and most of all to local photographer John Smoak who made this great shoot come together and did everything from scouting, to permits, to holding a reflector…

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My First Image in National Geographic Magazine

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Since I was a child and my parents had a subscription to National Geographic Magazine, escaping to remote locations, excavating ruins and experiencing exotic animals was always just a page flip away. For me NGM has always been the gold standard for not only nature and conservation but also great photography. David Dubilet’s surreal underwater scenes, Steve McCurry’s Afghan girl, Chris Johns Camel’s crossing the Sahara, Paul Nicklin’s Emperor Penguins, and the list of amazing photography in the magazines 125 year history goes on and on. I am honored to have one of my favorite images, the underwater view of the mass swim start from the 2011 Kona Ironman World Champs that won World Press Photo in 2012, published as a double page spread in the March edition of National Geographic Magazine’s Visions of Earth section. It’s always been a dream of mine to be published in the magazine and can’t thank NGM enough for deeming my photograph worthy to be in the same pages as the greats. Pick up your copy of National Geographic today or go to their website here and order your own custom print of my image!

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Behind the Scenes in Chopper for Outside Magazine Spread

Here’s a little clip my assistant Brandon Magnus put together of some POV behind the scenes shot from the helicopter during the 2012 Ironman World Championship. Nothing too fancy but you get a good idea of the height and the perspective from the chopper, and I was just happy that it wasn’t too windy with the door off while I was hanging outside with my camera! Shot with GoPro HD2 mounted on helmet and pole with safety strap, special thanks to Rick Loughery from GoPro! Hope you enjoy, and more videos to come!

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Golf Digest Shoot with Ricky Fowler

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We just did a photo shoot for Golf Digest with Ricky Fowler at Bear Creek Golf Course. It was an instructional for GD, so we went through a myriad of different swing sequences of do’s and don’ts, and ended with a couple portraits. Video was also shot during the session. Ricky was super easy to work with, and it was great to see the Golf Digest crew again. Special thanks to Golf Digest Director of Photography Christian Iooss, Staff Writer Max Adler, lighting assistant Shawn Cullen, and my Rep Jim Lee. The magazine issue isn’t out yet so I can’t put up any of the pictures but they turned out great! Here is a couple of behind the scenes shots for you guys:

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DICKS SPORTING GOODS GOLF SHOOT

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Last month I had the great opportunity to do a campaign with Dick’s Sporting Goods for their upcoming 2013 Golf Catalogue and commercial imagery. The assignment was in Palm Springs for 7 days where we stayed at La Quinta resort and shot at some beautiful courses including PGA West, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus Private courses. It’s been awhile since I shot at any of these courses (Last in ’99 at the Bob Hope when David Duval shot a record 59), so luckily we took the  first 2 days to scout four courses with the Dick’s Sporting Goods crew. Golf more than many sports is all about the light, and it was a huge advantage being able to see how the sun affected different holes, how the front 9 or back 9 had better natural lighting in the beginning of the day or late afternoon, and what would look better with the talent and brands being shot.

Once we chose our spots and had a schedule set, we prepped the gear and got ready to shoot the next 5 days from 6am to 6 pm. But the long days flew by because we were working hard, the crew was so easy to be around, and every session we stuck to our shotlist but had some creative improvisations as well. Shooting in the desert in the winter can be a mixed bag of weather. You can get screaming light because the sun is so low for most of the day and the air is so clear. But you can also get howling 60 miles/hour wind,rain and  frost which can delay things a bit. Luckily for us we had some awesome weather for the majority of the shoot and only encountered a few showers on the last day.

It was a fantastic experience and pleasure to work with Dick’s Sporting Goods, and look forward to another shoot in the future. Big thanks to Barry Berenson, Scott Lenz, Jody Pfister,  Kim McEniry, Brandon Magnus, Marc Kelly, and Billy Small for all their help. Special thanks to Rep Pat Hugg of Getty Images for making the job come together!!!

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Kirk Douglas Portraits

Actor Kirk Douglass poses for a portrait at his home on November 7, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.

Kirk Douglas is an American Film Icon and Legend, and is one of the last surviving actors from Hollywood’s “Golden Age”. He is no. 17 on AFI’s greatest male American screen legends of all time, making him the highest-ranking living person on that list. He’s appeared in such classic movies as Spartacus, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Lust for Life.

So when I got a request from his Alma Mater St. Lawrence University to shoot him at his home in Beverly Hills, I jumped at the chance. It’s not every day you get to shoot a Hollywood Legend in his house! Kirk and his wife just recently graciously donated 5 million to the University to extend the scholarship program for ethnic minority students.  Born Issur Danielovitch, Douglas was a son of jewish immigrants raised in the New York area. Legend has it that as a young man Douglas jumped off the back of a turnip truck at the University, talked his way into the school, and received a loan which he paid back working part-time as a gardener and janitor. There is just a myriad of wonderful and interesting stories from Kirk Douglas’s life, but other than his indelible mark he has left on Hollywood, it may be his mission as Hollywood’s most generous philanthropist that he may be remembered most for (he has donated 50 million this year alone to multiple charities and non-profits!).

So it was no surprise when we showed up to the beautiful Douglas residence in Beverly Hills, California, walking distance to Sunset Blvd and the famous Beverly Hills Hotel, that I would not be impressed with this man. Even though he suffered a stroke several years back slightly impairing his speech, I could understand everything he said and could see he was as sharp as a knife. We didn’t have much time to get this done, so my assistant and I walked into his house ready to shoot with a Nikon D800, 24-70mm lens, PocketWizard Plus III synched to a Profoto 7b pack and light with a beauty dish + diffuser. He graciously invited us into his house where we met his wife and assistant, and led us directly to this first spot where he wanted to set up a shot. His house was beautifully but not extravagantly decorated with art that you would recognize, masks and relics from around the world, and pictures of his family (yes there were a couple of Catherine Zita-Jones and Michael Douglas). He took us to beautiful and quaint garden area where we set up a shot in front of an incredible sculpture of multiple busts of himself, and a bench nearly where we shot several of Kirk his wife Anne, and the president of St. Lawrence University and his wife. After a couple minutes of shooting and telling him that my favorite movies he starred in were Spartacus and Lust for Life (where he played a tortured Vincent Van Gogh and should have received an Oscar for his performance), we shook hands again and left.

It was a pleasure to shoot one of the Hollywood greats that I grew up watching and admiring on the big screen, and was worth the four hour roundtrip drive in LA traffic from San Diego.

PHOTO OF THE DAY – 2011 IRONMAN

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KONA, HI – OCTOBER 8:   A general view of the mass swim start for the the 2011 Ford Ironman World Championship on October 8, 2011 at Kailua Bay in Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Donald Miralle) Canon EOS-1D Mark III Lens: 15mm Aperture: F5 Shutter 1/1000th sec ISO:640

LONDON OLYMPICS – Day 14 Recap

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In my last full day of shooting, I was excited to cover Team Synchronized Swimming and Athletics highlighted Bolt going for the gold repeat in the 200m final. It was going to be a long day with having to set up the underwater remote at the pool, break it down and pack up my locker there, and then make it over to the track and get a descent shooting spot for the 200M. Setting up remotes for athletics was out of the question because I couldn’t get there in time to do so, and I actually would rather just focus on the event with my cameras in my hands.

In team synchronized swimming, Russia leads all teams into the free routines with a score of 98.100 points after performing a perfectly executed Russian Dance theme. China, bronze medalists in Beijing 2008, finished second with 97.000 while Great Britain, finished seventh with 87.300 at its first team event in the Olympic Games. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge made an appearance up in the stands behind me, cheering for Team GB and I got my paparazzi shots in. I was very happy with the photos I ended up shooting at the synch swimming, especially the underwater camera which was placed at the one position that I knew they would pass through, at the start where they entered the water. For this shot you have to focus slightly outside the water from the bottom of the pool, so my friend Al Bello stood on the pool deck while I focused from the bottom.

At the track, I decided to shoot from from the end of the photo moat just around the bend from the finish line, which had given me great results for the finish and also more importantly for the initial reaction and jubo of athletes. After settling down in a spot I was happy, the rest of the photographers around me were very accommodating and we spent the three hours waiting for Bolt shooting the shit.

It was no surprise that not only Usain Bolt led the Jamaicans into a sweep in the 200 meter sprint for the gold, silver, and bronze, but that the OBS Handheld video guys ran out on the track immediately (and I mean right after!) the athletes crossed the finish line and smothered them with their wide angle lenses, blocking all still photographers from getting a clean shot of the action. At the London Olympics it is really sad and disgusting how bad the TV invasion of the athletes personal space has become immediately after they cross the finish line. I really hope one of the athletes complains (especially when their cameras are a couple inches from their face after they are crying from losing an event) because TV barely gives room for the athlete to move. So most photographers got a great shot of the back of the head of the video idiot, rather than the   gold medalist.

The photo if the day came in them men’s 800M final where World Record Holder David Rudisha won his first Olympic gold medal with the kind of world-record performance that has made him almost untouchable the last three years. The 23-year-old Kenyan won the final with his long stride in 1 minute, 40.91 seconds, breaking his own record he set in 2010, and setting the first world record on the track at the London Olympics. After crossing the line, he pumped his fist while the other competitors threw their arms up in the air stunned, and continued to celebrate which made for great photos.

At the end of the night, it was a great feeling turning off the cameras for the last time in  London, knowing that it was a job well done and I would soon be home in San Diego with my family. Before I rolled out, I said goodbye to a handful of photographers in the trenches from all over the world who come together every four years to document the best in the world going higher, faster and stronger.

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