Jay’s Spirit Shines at 12th Annual Surftech Jay Race

469To read a great post-event summary from the 12th Annual Jayrace by the folks at Surftech click here. LIVE LIKE JAY!!!

Another Great Trip to Santa Cruz

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Men’s podium for overall and prone paddler finishers (L-R Anthony Vela, Roch Frey, George Plsek, Don Miralle, Aaron McKinnon)

One of the highlights of my family’s last two summers has been our annual trip up to Santa Cruz, California. We not only go up to compete in the Jay Moriarty Race, but also take in all the great sites up there including the rides on the boardwalk, train rides through 100ft redwood trees, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the miles of beautiful coastline, and see old friends and make new ones. If you ever get a chance to get up to Santa Cruz, even if you don’t want to compete or watch one of the best paddleboard races in the US, you will not regret that you made it to one of the coolest cities in NorCal.

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Lauren, Luke and Micah making like Wild West Settlers in Roaring Rapids and Big Trees Train Camp.

Big thanks to all the folks from the JayRace and all the sponsors for putting on the best community-driven event for a young, quickly growing sport with all proceeds going to Santa Cruz State Junior Lifeguards. Special thanks to Duke Brouwer from Surftech, Kim Moriarty, Bob Pearson, Frosty Hesson, Denise White, Chris Hollingsworth, Brian Foss, and Aaron McKinnon for their efforts in making the 12th Annual Race the best ever! LIVE LIKE JAY!!!

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Aaron McKinnon and I battling out the race lead with the Santa Cruz Boardwalk as the backdrop.

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 11.28.02 PMBoys pick me up after we get our hardware at the JayRace Afterparty

photo-1Beautiful Steam Train ride through Redwoods at Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad.

The Augusta Masters for GolfWorld & Golf Digest

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Just came back from a week in Augusta GA on assignment shooting the Masters for Golf Digest/GolfWorld with some of the best in the business. Long week of work but one of the most exciting finishes I’ve witnessed at a major in some time with Adam Scott becoming the 1st Aussie to win a green jacket after 74 holes of golf. Here’s my shot of Adam holing a 20ft+ birdie on 18 while screaming “C’Mon Aussie” that landed on the cover and the shot on the 74th hole that won him the green jacket. 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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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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Oprah Interview with Lance Armstrong January 17th

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(Photo by Donald Miralle for LAVA Magazine)

I, like the rest of the general public, am eagerly anticipating the Lance Armstrong interview on the controversial topic of his doping with Oprah Winfrey this Thursday on January 17th. Lance was considered one of the greatest athletes in the world as well as the poster boy for the fight against cancer until he was was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles last year for doping and playing a role in team-organized doping on his Tour de France cycling squads. His fall from grace, like so many other athletes, politicians, and public figures in the recent years, happened meteorically fast with the same familiar script of denial and then apology.

Winfrey, who discussed the interview on “CBS This Morning” today, said, “We were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers. I feel that he answered the questions in a way that he was ready. … He certainly had prepared himself for this moment. He brought it. He really did.” I love that both sides agreed to no leaking of details of the interview, but of course it’s been a free for all, which will probably cause the TV ratings for Oprah’s Interview on her OWN network to skyrocket. And way to juice it into two separate segments Oprah. It’s all good, I will probably DVR both segments and read about it when my wife’s issue of O comes in the mail…

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This morning every talk show in San Diego was chattering about leaks about interview filmed Monday. People were calling into 1090 Sport Talk radio and comparing Lance’s wrongs to that of  Tiger Woods‘ infidelities and Pete Rose‘s gambling. Isn’t that like comparing apples to oranges? Wood’s had a secret personal life that was very different that the one he projected to the public, Rose had a gambling addiction that blew up after his retirement from baseball, and Lance used performance enhancing drugs in a sport where EVERYONE on the podium uses them. It’s better to compare Lance’s situation to that of MLB Baseball in the late 90’s where Sosa and McGwire chase for the homerun record catapulted the sport to new heights. Everyone including Major League Baseball knew that these guys and alot of the players in the league were juicing at the time, but turned a blind eye and opened their wallets to endorsements and skyrocketing TV ratings.

The sport of cycling and the International Cycling Union (UCI) has probably benefitted as much as Lance Armstrong from his doping and 7 Tour wins, but didn’t hesitate to throw him under the bus and make an example of him. “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” Pat McQuaid, the president of the International Cycling Union, said at a news conference in Switzerland announcing the decision. “This is a landmark day for cycling.” Way to eradicate Lance and his wins from cycling history and replace his name with names of other known dopers as Tour de France champions. Maybe they should clean house of all dopers and their titles in their sport, and bring in tougher and more stringent standards across the board.

It’s hard to sit back and judge Lance’s accomplishments as an athlete, and totally disregard Lance’s fight against cancer.  I had the great experience of having Lance give myself and writer Jay Prasuhn a personal tour of the Livestrong Foundation last April during our cover shoot for LAVA Magazine. Having had the unfortunate experience of family and friends die of cancer, including my dad, I can truthfully say I was moved at seeing Livestrong first hand, and realize that this is his legacy, not 7 Tour de France wins. You can only hope that this venerable foundation does not suffer because of the negative media onslaught on it’s founder.

At the end of the day, the Lance Armstrong doping scandal has the same old tired script that human nature and media just thrives and feeds upon: Man overcomes odds, rises to the top, falls to the bottom, and then has to rise from his ashes again. It’s just a matter of time before Hollywood produces a screenplay for this one and it becomes a blockbuster oscar winning movie. I just wonder who they would cast for Lance?

PHOTO OF THE DAY FLASHBACK – 2009 Ironman

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KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII – OCTOBER 9: Lava flows from the Kilauea volcano during the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 9, 2009. Considered one of the most grueling races in the world, competitors must brave 95 degrees temperature and 90 percent humidity to complete a 3.86 km swim, 180.2 km bike, and a 42.2 km marathon with in an 17 hour time cutoff to be called an “Ironman”. (Photo by Donald Miralle) Canon EOS-1D Mark III Lens: 70-200mm Aperture: F4 Shutter 1.0 sec ISO:250

My 3rd Catalina Crossing

Into the great wide open. Beautiful sunrise mid-Catalina Channel. (Photo by Brandon Magnus)

Last month I competed in my 3rd Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race, the premier and most historical paddleboard race in the world. Officially started in 1955 by Los Angeles County Lifeguard Bob Hogan, the first Catalina crossing was won in 1932 by Tom Blake, and has since seen legendary watermen such as Ricky Grigg, Mike Bright, Tom Zahn, Gregg Noll, Bob Hogan, Mickey Munoz, Mike Eaton, Buzzy Kerbox, Joe Bark, Jamie Mitchell, and Laird Hamilton make the Catalina Classic the preeminent waterman’s event of the year. Paddlers leave Catalina Island at dawn and paddle 32 miles to the Manhattan Beach Pier on boards between 12 and 19 feet long, using only their hands to propel them through the water. Swells, Currents and wind conditions play into what is notoriously one of the most grueling endurance events in the world.

After training for most of the year with my goal and sights set for Catalina, I almost pulled out the week of the race because I caught strep throat and was in bed for three days leading up to race. I very rarely get sick but my immune system was compromised after losing 10 lbs covering the London Olympics for three weeks in July and August (which didn’t help my training as well! ) But the Friday before the race I got out of bed and went for an easy paddle and decided there was no way I was going to miss the race I trained all year for.

All the paddlers who started the race finished the race this year and posed for the traditional photo at the Manhattan Beach Pier. It’s hard to describe the feeling of crossing a massive body of water using your own power and will to propel you, and everyone who is in this photo feels the stoke of having accomplished a herculean feat. (Photo by Jonathan Moore)

The ocean and mother nature was on our side that day, giving us beautiful calm seas and perfect temperatures which made for a very fast race. I beat my  time from the year before by 30 minutes, crossing the finish buoy at Manahattan Beach Pier 5 hours and 25 minutes after we started in the dark at Two Harbors Catalina. I was 14 minutes behind Adam Buckley who had an amazing race form start to finish and won his 2nd Catalina Classic, and 6 minutes behind  2nd place Sean Richardson, a 51-year old phenom who in my opinion is one of the best prone paddlers the sport has seen in the past decade. I was really happy for those guys and also my 3rd overall finish all things considered; but I was most stoked for Steve Schlens who won the  stock division after missing last season with back surgery. Most paddleboarders have day jobs and for the most part don’t make money for what is a truly grueling sport, training for hours upon hours for the love of the sport and ocean.

I finally downloaded my Garmin GPS info from the race and you can see my line, splits, and speed in the charts below. You can see after the R-10 buoy when the south current started playing a factor in the race (as well as my body started to bonk!) Special thanks to Tom Candaleria for providing me with another straight line and safe crossing aboard his boat “The Chief” and my photography assistant Brandon Magnus for taking some killer pics and helping with nutrition. But most importantly to my wife Lauren and my sons Luke and Micah for putting up with my early morning paddles and training for another year. For a great story and summary of this years’ race go to the official Catalina Classic webpage here, and if you haven’t been on a prone paddleboard or standup get out there and enjoy the water!

BEST OF LONDON OLYMPICS

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After 18 days of sleep and food deprivation chasing around the world’s greatest athletes at the London Olympic Games, my cameras shot over 20,000 images at my seventh Olympic Games I have covered as a photographer. The hardest part of the assignment other than logistics and transport is the editing of these photos and cutting them down to the best of the best, which is about .5% or less than a hundred photos. Now that the dust has settled and I am back in sunny San Diego with my family, looking back at my experiences and I realize how blessed I am to have documented the spectacle of the Olympics again. There were some great memories and images made over the course of two and a half weeks, and here is a gallery highlighting my adventures in London. Thank you all for reading my posts, looking at the photos, and motivating me with your kind notes during my journey. Special thanks to Beth Johnson and Katherine Harris from NEWSWEEK Daily Beast for having me cover the games for them, David Leah of Mexsport for sorting out my accommodations in the UK, Simon Lodge and the crew at Lodge Scuba for assisting in the underwater camera placement and aquatics, Head Photo Chief Bob Martin and his support staff that made great angles possible, William Pekala and Sarah Moosbrugger of Nikon, Brandon Magnus in my San Diego office making sure the photos and posts were published, all my fellow photographer for their friendship, and most importantly my wife and kids for dealing with my absence and supporting me along the way. As the Olympic motto states Citius, Altius and Fortius “Faster, Higher, Stronger”, the games really brings out the best of what humans are capable of, whether it be in sports, photography, or the human spirit. Thanks for following my journey and hope to  do it again in a couple years body and mind willing!!!

LONDON OLYMPICS – Day 2 Judo Lightweights Attack

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While riding on the Jubilee line of the underground today late as usual, I was reading the photographers manual (A thick booklet printed by LOCOG that like the Photographers handguide and Olympic bible) and saw that I was passing the Judo venue and there was two gold medal matches about to start. I spontaneously jumped off the train and ran a good 3/4 miles with 75 lbs of camera and computer gear to get to the Excel Arena minutes before the martial artists “kicked off”. Ended up being a good decision because I witnessed a little history as Russia won a gold medal for the first time in Olympic Judo History thanks to Olympian Arsen Galstyan. Galstyan was able to defeat Japanese super medalist Hiroaki Hiraoka in the finals. And then in an unexpected Olympic moment, Galstyan ran directly toward me and I thought he was coming to hug me and sitting right behind me was his family. I was literally caught in the middle of a group hug without any wide angle lens to shoot the great moment, but apparently I got a good 15 seconds of TV time instead. In Women’s 48-kilogram Judo, 22-year-old Brazilian Sarah Menezes defeated the defending Olympic champion Alina Dumitru. It was a heated battle while both contenders worked hard to get a dominate grip, but Menezes was able to throw Dumitru and secure the gold. Here are the pics, hope you enjoy and please chime in with comments too I would love to hear them!!!

Screen shot of me (left smiling) stuck in a gold medalist hug….

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