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Portfolio: Donald MirallePortfolio: Donald Miralle

A drone’s-eye view

Donald Miralle is an award-winning sports photographer who is gaining acclaim for his use of drones. “It is a great way to get cost-effective short-range aerial coverage,” he says. Miralle is a 1996 graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles with a degree in fine arts. His first professional job as a photographer was with Allsport Photography, an industry leader in sports photography that eventually became part of Getty Images. Miralle is a surfer and athlete. “My background as an athlete and my ability to shoot from the water gave me a niche and an advantage in sports photography in a highly competitive industry.” The image of leopard sharks shown here is one of his favorites. “After I finished paddling the 7-mile loop I ran back to my car for my quadcopter and flew above the water while my friends were paddling to the finish.”


Donald Miralle
La Jolla Cove Paddleboard Race
San Diego, California
Yuneec Typhoon with 4K Camera
Donald Miralle

Ironman 70.3 St. George,
Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah
Yuneec Typhoon with 4K Camera

“This image of a biker making his way through the stunning Snow Canyon in St. George, Utah, was during an Ironman race there. I shot this with my larger six-rotor drone and what made this image appealing to me was that it was foggy and raining at the time the competitors were making their way through the canyon, which made for a more ominous image.”

Donald Miralle

Donald Miralle

“Sharing airspace is essential to safety while flying drones. I don’t fly near airports or in the vicinity of flight paths. The Yuneec Typhoon is super stable and easy to fly—it’s also very affordable. I have a fixed rectilinear 14mm lens on the drone that is very wide so I don’t want to be too far away from the subject or I’ll lose context. I carry two fully charged batteries with me and I try to keep my airtime to those two 18-minute batteries.” 

Donald Miralle

The Baja 1000
Baja, California 
Yuneec Typhoon with 4K Camera

“The first year I covered the Baja 1000, I crashed my Land Rover in a ditch trying to chase the action and came back with mediocre photos and my tail between my legs. Several years later I had a specific assignment to cover the KTM team. I set my drone up to hover and shoot Mike Brown; the KTM team diced it up with the Yamaha squad all day when the unthinkable happened. Veteran rider Kurt Caselli died after hitting an animal on the course. I left Mexico in low spirits and was again reminded that motor racing is a dangerous sport.”

Donald Miralle

Flower fields, Carlsbad Ranch,
Carlsbad, California
Yuneec Typhoon with 4K Camera

“For nearly 60 years, every spring the nearly 50 acres of giant Tecolote ranunculus flowers bloom in a beautiful display of color for only about six weeks. I’ve shot this natural show from the ground level on many occasions but this year I made the image of the flower fields with a low-flying drone with a wide-angle lens. The 14-mm corrected wide-angle lens was able to capture a large portion of the scene and color without any distortion.”

Donald Miralle

Great Reno Balloon Race
Reno, Nevada

“This was one of those dream jobs where I was given free rein to shoot the event as I pleased. So I started the day on the ground shooting the balloons being inflated before sunrise. Then I jumped into the judges’ balloon before the start. We shot straight above the competitors as they made final preparations and this is when I captured the Energizer Bunny powering up.”

Donald Miralle

Travel story
The Big Island, Hawaii
DJI Phantom 1  with GoPro Hero

“My friend Mike Field is an amazing artist and lives on the Big Island of Hawaii. Last year I was there doing a travel story on the Big Island and it was the first of 10 international locations in 30 days. Hanging with Mike, on his boat, sailing in crystal-clear water, was one of the highlights of the trip.”

Donald Miralle

USA Swimming Mesa Meet
Mesa, Arizona
DJI Phantom with GoPro Hero

“As the sun was setting on the USA Swimming Mesa Meet, I took this photo of a finals start with a GoPro Hero 3 operated from a DJI Phantom 1. This was my first drone setup and was a reliable system starting out, and I still use it to this day when I need a smaller drone.”

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