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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Oprah Interview with Lance Armstrong January 17th

Lance Armstrong

(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…

ht_oprah_lance_armstrong_dm_130115_wg(George Burns/Harpo Studios, Inc.)

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?

Lance Armstrong Cover

I had the great experience of getting to hang out and shoot Lance Armstrong at his home and the Livestrong Foundation in Austin, Texas for this month’s cover of LAVA Magazine in newstands now. One of the more enjoyable shoots I’ve had in a while and Lance was gracious with his time, letting us shoot him over the course of two days, and he was a pleasure to be around. He even let me go for an accidental swim in his fountain and tweeted Liz Kreutz’s photos to his 3.5 million followers (see picture below). He is obviously an inspirational person because of his 7 Tour De France wins but more importantly for his efforts in the fight against cancer with the Livestrong Foundation. Here’s some outtakes, some behind the scenes by Liz, the cover, and the story layout with great text by Jay Prasuhn…enjoy!

Some Outtakes….

Behind the scenes….

The story layout and cover…

New Cover of Lava, the Kona Edition

The school of fish and competitors at the mass swim start at the Ironman World Champs in Kona 2011. (Photo by Donald Miralle fo LAVA)

So there I was, sitting on the bottom of Kailua Bay trying to preserve the air in my tank and keep my camera dry in it’s housing like I have on the first week of October in the years past. To get the underwater mass swim start photo from the Kona Ironman World Championships, I’ve always had to wake up about 4:30am to get into the water with my full scuba and underwater camera kit and watch fish go by until the cannon blast starts the swimmers at 7am. But the difference with this year and past years was the fact that the large surf a couple days before raceday kicked up sand and mixed up the water making it more cloudy, which didn’t lend to the clearest water with the best visibility for photos. However, these conditions brought larger schools of fish that I hadn’t seen in the past, swimming in the shallows of the bay looking for food.

So as I was sitting there at about 6:59 am, 30 feet on the bottom of the bay, trying to line up schools of fish, below schools of man, without getting too many of by bubbles from my mouth and regulator in the frame, and getting the correct exposure/focus as well, when I noticed in the corner of my eye the battery was blinking. All I could think was “shit my camera is going to die before this start, and I’m gonna miss it all”, and less than a minute later I could hear the muffled cannon fire, the surfboards holding the line of swimmers open, and the mass of humanity swim overhead. Click, click, cli… and I got about 2.5 frames in the first second of the race before my camera crapped out. All I could do was swim back to land and pray that I got one usable frame out of all the time and preparation that went into that morning.

A week later as I entered the office of LAVA, the official publication of Ironman, to show my images from Kona to the Publisher and Editors of the magazine, I had one image in mind from the 60+ I was showing that stood out in my as the strongest contender as the cover. It wasn’t a classic image of Chrissie Wellington crossing the finish line, nor one of Craig Alexander crushing the course record becoming the first man to win the 70.3 and Ironman World Champs the same year, but rather an artistic frame of anonymous swimmers amongst a school of fish in the Bay. I’ve shot all but one of the cover photos run by Lava, and they are usually lit, stocky, tight action or portrait shots; so this scene setter from Kona was a long-shot by those standards. The fish frame was one of those images and moments you get once in your lifetime, where all the elements line up, and preparation meets opportunity. The Editor Brad Culp went to bat for me on this one, and after a couple heated debates over what the best cover image should be, they went for it. It’s my favorite cover shot yet and it’s for the best as all the other triathlon magazines will have that stocky image of the finish line or running,  while LAVA will have that different shot that no one else runs.


Enjoying the German Winter on Assignment

Andreas and Michael Raelert stand on a frozen jetty on the Baltic Sea in Rostock, Germany for cover shoot for Ironman’s LAVA magazine on November 29, 2010. (Donald Miralle for LAVA)

I had the unique opportunity to experience winter and the full holiday spirit in Northern Germany a couple weeks ago on a cover shoot for Ironman’s LAVA Magazine. Writer/Editor/Photographer and all-around cool guy Jay Prasuhn and I had a whirlwind trip to Rostock (two hours outside of Berlin) on the frigid Baltic Sea to shoot two of triathlon’s rising stars Andreas and Michael Raelert. The Brothers Raelert have both shown a dominant gene for the sport – with Andreas finishing 2nd and third at the Kona Ironman World Championships the past two years respectively and Michael winning the 70.3 World Champs two years in a row. Other competitors better look out, these boys are the real deal, train with each other, and the sky is the limit especially with Michael bumping up weight class to the full Ironman distance in 2011.

Cover of the next LAVA Magazine, featuring Andreas and Michael Raelert (Donald Miralle for LAVA)

Standing in front of the Brandenburg gates on a cold morning (Photo by Jay Prasuhn)

Jay pimps his ride and represents the Westside at the Mercedes Benz Museum in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Donald Miralle)

Not only were these guys great to work with but true gentleman, insisting to carry my gear for most of the shoot and touring us around all their local spots in Rostock, the town they have called home for most of their lives. Some of my favorite memories of the trip are seeing the Brandenburg gates where the Berlin Wall once stood to separate the East and the West, walking on my first beach with snow instead of sand, watching Jay almost get blown like a kite into the Baltic Sea as he battled 50mph gusts with a profoto softbox, warm mugs of gluwein we imbibed, and the good company of the two brothers.

The opening spread which shows the frigid scene of a German Winter as the brothers Raelert stir up some frozen birds on a snowy beach. (Photo by Donald Miralle for LAVA)

Here’s a gallery of some of my favorite images from the shoot, hope you enjoy and as always your feedback is welcomed and appreciated!

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