San Diego Union-Tribune Runs Nice Front Page Feature Story

(Photo by K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune)
They sent out a great writer Patty McCormac to my house for an interview and one of their top sports photographers K.C. Alfred for a portrait shoot. No future in male modeling here and I think I will be better served if I stay behind the camera! When it ran in the paper it was front page of local and they included a gallery of my ironman images which was nice.  All my SD friends got a kick out of it….To read the web version of the article you can go here.

Tools of the Trade – NEW HD GoPro Hero (Part 1 of 3)

Video of Jon Field, driver of the #37 Lenco Mobile Intersport Racing Lola B09 86 Mazda, during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16, 2010 in Long Beach, California. Shot with GoPro HD Hero:

The folks at GoPro, the world leaders in wearable digital cameras for sports, were nice enough to send me a GoPro HD Hero unit to test out. If you haven’t seen these already, they fit in the palm of your hand and make sick HD videos and still images in water, land or air. They are so small, light and inconspicuous you actually forget you’re wearing them, and set-up takes minutes and couldn’t be easier. Rick Loughery, the Director of Communications at GoPro, hooked me up with the accessories for HD Surf Hero, Helmet Hero, and Motorsports Hero which made the camera usable to mount on a surfboard, a motorcycle or helmet and car respectively. 

In this first set-up with the racecar, I hooked up with the Intersport Racing Team with the help of Rick Dole and John Thawley, photographers who follow the American LeMans Series. After touching base with Crew Chief Brian Alder and Driver Jon Fields, we attached the GoPro HD Hero Camera next to the right rear view mirror on the #37 car in their paddock area. I used the suction cup mount that came with my kit as well as a safety cable looped through the camera housing to an adhesive mount just in case the suction came loose. It was the final practice before qualifying, so the crew was trying to get their lap times down and I wanted to have the camera as unobstrusive of a area as possible. 

I first set the camera on intervelometer camera mode shooting a frame every two seconds. The files were sharp and the 170 degree wide angle is very nice, and overall I was happy with the images. My only complaints are I wish the file size was a little larger (5 megapixels), there is a bit of graininess and noise if you’re shooting in lower light, and you can’t slow down the shutter speed. But in the right lighting situations, the files are razor and can be blown up a little in photoshop without falling apart. At the second pit stop I switched the camera to video mode, and I was truly impressed with the camera’s ability to properly exposure automatically with changing lighting situations of extreme backlit to front lit. There are multiple options in video mode from 1080p at 30fps to a very cool slow motion mode. Because the cars were going a top speed between 175-190 mph on the straights, I opted with the closed waterproof back on the housing to cut some of the wind noise. The audio was good, but there were still some pops and camera shake noise that came into play. At the end if the day, the results were pretty amazing in relation to how quick and easy the setup of this camera is as well as it’s cost.  If you do video or have any plans to do action sports video, you need this camera in your bag. If you’re just doing photos I still highly recommend this unit as it’s a great way to supplement your coverage of an event with odd and exciting angles that you couldn’t get with a normal sized SLR.  You can purchase the cameras and different mounts at very affordable packages and I have placed a direct link to there webpage on the right side of my blog. In addition to being able to shop on the GoPro website, there are great photo and video galleries on there too showcasing what this camera is capable of. In the coming weeks I’m going to try it out on a surfboard and motorbike and I will post those as they become available. Below are more photos shot during the LeMans session with the GoPro HD Hero in stills mode as well as the camera’s specs…enjoy!

Jon Field, driver of the #37 Lenco Mobile Intersport Racing Lola B09 86 Mazda, drives in practice for the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16, 2010 in Long Beach, California. Shot with the new GoPro HD Hero mounted with the car suction mount and safety line to adhesive mount. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

 

Danica Patrick of the USA, driver of the 7 Andretti Autosport Team GoDaddy.com Dallara Honda, drives during the IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 18, 2010 in Long Beach, California.  Shot from a building with a GoPro HD Hero mounted on a pole (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)


Tony Kanaan of Brazil, driver of the #11 Andretti Autosport Team 7-Eleven Dallara Honda, pits his car during the IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 18, 2010 in Long Beach, California.  Shot in pit-lane with a GoPro HD Hero mounted on a pole (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)


Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Team Penske Dallara Honda, looks on from his car during practice for the IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16, 2010 in Long Beach, California. Shot with a GoPro HD Hero (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)


A detail shot of the GoPro HD Hero mounted on the body panel of Jon Field’s the #37 Lenco Mobile Intersport Racing Lola B09 86 Mazda. 


Even with the camera attached, Fields managed to turn in the fastest laps of the practice.


Wider Shot of placement of  camera…


Here are the specs on the GoPro HD Hero:

Camera Optics

  • Lens Type: Fixed Focus (2ft/.6m – ∞), glass
  • Aperture: f/2.8 (high performance in low-light situations)
  • Angle of View: 170º ultra wide angle in WVGA, 720p, or 960p mode
  • Angle of View: 127º wide angle in 1080p mode

Video

  • HD Video Resolution Modes: (subject to change, pending final firmware release)
    • 1080p = 1920×1080 pixels (16:9), 30 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
    • 960p = 1280×960 pixels (4:3), 30 fps, 12 Mbit/s data rate
    • 720p = 1280×720 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 15 Mbit/s data rate
    • 720p = 1280×720 pixels (16:9), 30 fps, 8 Mbit/s data rate
    • WVGA = 848×480 pixels (16:9), 60 fps, 8 Mbit/s data rate
  • Sensor Type: 1/2.5″ HD CMOS, 2.2µm-sized pixels
  • Light Sensitivity: Super low-light sensitivity (>1.4 V/lux-sec)
  • Video Format: H.264 compression, saved as Windows- & Mac-compatible MPEG4 (.mp4) file
  • Exposure Control: Auto with user selectable center weighted average and spot metering settings
  • White Balance: Auto

Audio

  • Microphone: Built-in, mono with AGC (automatic gain control)
  • Audio Format: 48 kHz, AAC audio compression

Photo

  • Resolution: 5 megapixel
  • Capture Modes: Single shot, photo every 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 secs.; 3 photo burst; self-timer

Storage

  • Memory: SD card, up to 32GB capacity (SDHC)
  • Average recording times (using 32GB SD card):
    • 1080p (30 fps): 4h 21m
    • 960p (30 fps): 5h 26m
    • 720p (60 fps): 4h 21
    • 720p (30 fps): 8h 09m
    • WVGA (60 fps): 8h 09m

Camera Connectors & Cables

  • PC Connection: USB 2.0 (data connection and battery charging)
  • HDTV Out: HD NTSC & PAL (component cable incl.)
  • Audio Out: Combo 2.5mm jack with stereo audio and composite video out
  • PC Compatibility: Windows® XP (Service Pack 2 or later) or Vista; Mac OS® X 10.4.11 and later

Power & Battery

  • Battery Type: Rechargeable 1100 mAh lithium-ion
  • Battery Life: Approx. 2.5 hrs
  • Charging: via USB to computer or optional power adapter
  • Charge Time: 80% capacity after 1 hour with optional power adapter; or 2 hours with a computer’s USB port

Waterproof Camera Housing

  • Depth Rating: Up to 180 feet / 60 meters
  • Construction: Polycarbonate and stainless steel
  • Hardware: Stainless steel

Size & Weight

  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 1.6” x 2.4” x 1.2” (42mm x 60mm x 30mm)
  • Weight: 3.3oz (94g) incl. battery, 5.9oz (167g) incl. housing

Optional Accessories

  • Additional Rechargable 1100 mAh Lithium-Ion Battery (not yet available for pre-order)
  • Full Line of Mounting Accessories

Optional Expansion Bakpacs™

An innovative expansion port on the back of the camera, the HERO Bus™ accepts optional Expansion Bakpacs to expand the functionality of HD HERO cameras:

  • LCD Bakpac for on-camera preview and playback (not yet available for pre-order)
  • Endurance Battery Bakpac for double battery life (not yet available for pre-order)
  • More Bakpacs and expansion devices coming soon

Awesome Award Days for World Press Photo Contest

The prizewinners pose for a photo with crowned HRH Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands at the awards ceremony (Photo by Lauren Miralle)

The three times I’ve received a phone call from Nina Stenske from the Netherlands my heart starts to race, my palms sweat and a chesire cat-like grin spreads across my face. “You are a winner in this year’s World Photo Contest”, are not only the magic words opening the doors to one of the highest accolades in photojournaism worldwide but also to a week of viewing inspiring photojournalism and good times in a city known more for it’s red light district and coffee shops.

Legendary photojournalist Eugene Richards speaks during the Sem Presser Lecture at Felix Meritas. (Photo by Donald Miralle)

After a 18 hour excursion in a plane from San Diego over Northern USA and Canada, my wife Lauren and I landed in Amsterdam feet running after getting the huge complimentary first-class upgrade on the long flight. We cabbed it to the Grand Hotel Kranopolsky in the heart of the city at the Dam, and decided to pop our heads into the Felix Meritas building were World Press Photo holds their presentations during Awards Days to check my Saturday presentation. I had no intent in doing a presentation this year but Nina Stenske pressed me until I conceded and I am glad I did. The top photojournalists, editors and staff from many of the largest publications are present during the Award Days, so it’s great self-promotion if you don’t mind speaking in front of a couple hundred people. You can watch my presentation here:

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The Award Days this year fell a little later and happened to coincide with Queen’s Day, a national tradition in honor of their Queen where everything in Amsterdam closes down and the city turns into a enourmous party and flea market. In addition to all of the city’s inhabitants, one million visitors flock to the city as well to enjoy this enormous drunken celebration. We fully absorbed and enjoyed the day, walking around, buying things from street vendors, people watching, visiting the Van Gogh and Rijks Museums, and having a couple beers as well. It was a great start to a wonderful weekend, and I hope I can be in Amsterdam again for Queen’s Day. 

People enjoy the view of Amsterdam from a carnival ride I called the “propeller of death” during Queens Day (Photos by Donald Miralle)

A patron at the Rijks Museum checks out Rembrandt’s brush strokes up and close…(Photos by Donald Miralle)


When you visit the “red-light” district…no photos please! 


And you may need these beforehand…


Or just a good pair of shoes.

Speaking of royalty, the guest of honor at the Awards Ceremony was the crowned HRH Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands and his wife Princess Laurentien, who my wife and I had the pleasure of meeting and briefly speaking with. It was interesting to find out that the Prince ontop of being the 5th in line to the Dutch throne and having a degree in law, loves to draw and take photographs which makes him a the fitting Patron of World Press Photo. The Awards ceremony held at the Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ, a beautiful auditorium on the water, while the opening exhibition was at the Oude Kerke (“the olde church”) a 13th century church located in the center of Amsterdam’s notorious “Red-Light” District. The church is an amazing place to hold an exhibition down to the fact that the entire floor of the church are crypts, so as you are walking around looking at photos, you are walking on dead people! 

A view from the attic in the Anne Frank house. This window was the only way her and her family saw the outside world. Very moving and interesting museum if you’re ever in Amsterdam. (Photo by Donald Miralle)

But the best thing about attending the Awards Days in my opinion, it getting the opportunity to meet other photographers and place faces with bylines and work you’ve seen for years. It was great to meet and spend time with the legendary Eugene Richards and his wife Janine Altongy, who were both just such pleasant and admirable people. We had a blast with amazing National Geographic photographer and all-around great guy Paul Niklin and his wonderful wife Lynn, whose work made me want to move up to the Yukon and shoot nature. It was great to see Robert Gauthier of the Los Angeles Times, whom I’ve had the pleasure of working next to for years, give a moving presentation dedicated to his wife Rene. And other photographers like Elizabeth Kruetz with husband James and son Charlie were a pleasure, Magnus Wennman of Sweden and very pregnant wife, Lara Panack, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Petersburger, Matt McClain representing Denver, Kent Klich, Walter Astrada, Adam Ferguson, Charles Ommanney, and finally Zed Nelson who in my opinion gave the most entertaining presentation to date. Great meeting all of you, thanks for the good times and inspiring me to push my art a little harder. And special thanks to everyone from World Press Photo for putting together the best weekend in photojournalism…Cheers!

We had mostly wet weather while we were in Holland but I never get to use an umbrella in San Diego so I enjoyed it. A man shields himself from the elements with his umbrella (Photo by Donald Miralle)