On Assignment for ESPN the Magazine’s Photo Issue

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA- MAY 7:  Steven Kehoe #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is mobbed by his teammates as Jeff Menzel #1 of the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos and his teammates walk off during the Buckeyes 3-2 (20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 15-9) victory in the 2011 NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship Final at Rec Hall in University Park, Pennsylvania on May 7, 2011. Kehoe was named tournament MVP leading Ohio State to it’s first national title in volleyball.  (Photo by Donald Miralle for ESPN the Magazine) 

1 Day, 9 Countries, 23 Photographers. Great idea by ESPN the Magazine to cover a big day for sports on Saturday, May 7, 2011. My contribution to this kick-ass issue was to cover the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championships at Penn State, PA. Senior Photo Editor Jim Surber gave me an open brief  to shoot the games as creative as possible but with the smart direction to use only a single strobe, lending a nice atmosphere to the photos with falloff and contrast. I used a profoto 7B with a mag reflector and 10 degree grid spot hung directly overhead from the net, coupled with another 7b on a seprate pack from stands, cutting across the subject with a 20 degree grid to give a little separation from the shadows. I shot with a Canon 5D Mark II and used the Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 Canon which allowed me to synch the strobes and freeze action at 1/1000th of a second! If you haven’t got one of these yet go out and do it, you won’t have to use a leaf shutter again to freeze action with strobes.

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I had the luxury of one day to set up and install strobes and remotes, then tweak everything as needed for the second day to fine tune the results. I also hung a remote camera that was also on the same strobe set for the first day, which was nice for tight action shots. But knowing that the winner of the final games was going to give a great reaction probably with jubilation and dejection, I switched the remote to a wider shot on the second day with ambient light to capture the reaction of the winner from the final game without having to depend on the recycle time of the strobes. Again a Canon 5D Mark II with a 24-105/F4 lens hung from a pretty sketchy catwalk with monfrotto magic arm and enough safety cable to suspend a truck. I was really stoked on this shot of Ohio state mobbing their MVP while the dejected UC Santa Barbara Gauchos walked off, and am sending a copy to the Head Coach of Ohio State Pete Hansen for their team room to commemorate their first NCAA volleyball championship in school history. Below is a little gallery I put together of the photos that didn’t make the magazine, hope you enjoy. Go out and get your issue at the newstands today and you can see the online ESPN photo gallery here.


  1. Anil Sud says:

    I love your overhead ‘mob’ shot; how it conveys the joy of victory and the agony of defeat as the losing party walks off the scene – these elements come together to make a fabulous sports photo. Great foresight to visualize the potential as the action was unfolding even though it was taken with a remote camera. Love it, Donald…I can see why you were stoked about this one.


    • Thanks Anil! Some one once told me that luck is when preparation meets opportunity and this is definitely the case with that photo. The guys could have easily ran and swarmed on the bench or somewhere out of frame, or the mvp could have not been covered up by his teammates or not looking up at the camera, which is what makes the photo.

  2. katarina says:

    not bad, not bad at all 🙂

  3. Donald – the overhead shot is excellent. I saw this on the PW blog, which brought me here. I am curious how you were able to sync the 5Dm2, TT5, and Profo lights to shoot 1/1000 sec. Did the flash duration exceed the shutter speed (tail method) or is there another way? The max I have been able to sync my 5Dm2 and TT5 is a mere 1/250 sec (using Elinchrom Quadras A-heads). Any info would be appreciated.


  1. […] Donald Miralle a fait des photos d’un tournoi universitaire de volley, sur son site on peut voir une sélection d’images qui n’ont pas été choisies par le magazine pour le […]

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