Archive for April, 2010


Me and 200,000 of my closest redneck friends

It’s that time of year again.  I get a farmer’s tan, smell like a bonfire for three days and jostle for position with four tv camera men and 12 photographers just to take a lame picture of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s pitstop.  Yeah.  Why do I still come here.

Carl Edwards flips into the catch fence on the last lap of the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, Sunday, April 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Well, every once in a while you get a “big one.” I’ve been coming to Talladega since 2001, and it only took 8 years and 15 races (they run two a year here) to get a decent wreck picture.   Like it or not, it’s what people expect to see when they see NASCAR photos.  It’s a luck of the draw kind of thing, and since I’ve always been the pit guy shooting for the Associated Press, I rarely saw any death and mayhem, so to speak (because lets face it, 100% of the fans are there to see carnage.)

Without getting into too much specifics, let’s just say it was the last lap, last corner, one guy moved down on the other to cut him off and they touched.  Then one went careening upside-down into the catch fence.  That’s classified as a big one in my book.

I’ll likely never top this photo.  So again, why do I still come here?




2010 Masters in the can.

It’s done. Finished. Finito. I ate my last Masters Club sandwich smuggled out of the press center.  Do you think it had gone bad?  Probably.  But it was oh so good.  And I’m not sick yet, so…

The 2010 Masters was fantastic and had a little something for everyone.  From the overdramatized Tiger return story, to a true family guy persevering to take a convincing win.

This was the first Masters that I’ve seen where the eventual winner didn’t win because everyone else around him fell apart, kind of “the guy who sucked least.”  No, this year, it was more of a classic Masters tournament, the kind I’d heard about, where great golfers pull out great golf shots and make runs for the lead.  It was exciting.

With so many great golf shots, came great photo shots as well, from our Chronicle staff.  Mickelson’s eagle heard around the world on 14 was captured by Corey and the sequence ran on the front page the next day. I’m pretty sure we were the only publication to have that picture.  Zach had a good shot from Monday when Tiger, Couples and Furyk skipped their balls across the water on 16 during their practice round (a family tradition!) And from Sunday, we had Phil’s winning reaction covered from all angles on 18.  Jackie had a nice frame of him raising his arms with the crowd in focus behind him and him out of focus.  She says she didn’t do it on purpose and that it was the autofocus going in and out, but I think she’s being a bit modest.  It’s a different look on a nice moment.  Here’s my take on the same moment in time:

Phil Mickelson wins the 2010 Masters with a birdie putt on 18 during the final round of the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 11, 2010. RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF

The Masters really brings out the golf-liker (lover’s too strong of a word) in me.  I watch highlights from the tournaments leading up to the April major, just to get myself back into the swing of things (so to speak).  I also found myself sneaking a few peeks at the PGA tournament at Hilton Head this weekend, a week after the Masters.  Call it a residual effect.

But it’s easy to understand why we (photogs) love Masters week so much.  Best example comes from this Masters Sunday breakfast in the Clubhouse restaurant, paid for by the Chronicle.  Not that the food’s really that great, but the hashbrowns taste just that much better when you can look out through the big oak tree from the second floor dining room and see thousands of people in their Sunday best, watching the biggest names in golf tee off in the greatest golf event in the world.  It’s special.

Below is our traditional Masters group photo in front of the scoreboard.  We all look noticeably warmer than in previous years.

The Augusta Chronicle photo staff group photo at the Masters. From left, Mike Holahan, Corey Perrine, editor Sean Moores, Jackie Ricciardi, Rainier Ehrhardt, Zach Boyden-Holmes, Dede Smith, from our sister paper in Jacksonville, Fla., and bossman John Curry.



Masters Preview Friday: Fun in the Sun

I had today off in exchange for working this coming Sunday where the main priority will be to catch (you guessed it) Tiger if he arrives early to register and to hit a few balls on the driving range. 

Therefore, I didn’t have access to any of our old Masters photos, but I did have this “fun” pic of fellow Chronicle staffer Michael Holahan taken during a break in the action last year on 18 green.   Way to go goof ball.

Augusta Chronicle staff photographer makes a face as he waits for golfers to make their way up to the 18th green during the Masters Tournament at the Augusta National, Sunday, April 12, 2009, in Augusta, Ga. RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF

But that’s what the Masters is all about to me.  Extremely long hours mixed with moments of fun and excitement.  This would be one of those fun moments.  We have radios to keep in touch with each other (photogs and editors) so we can coordinate coverage over the expansive course.  But sometimes we use the radios to make fun of each other or to make jokes. 

In the case of this photo, I shot a few frames of Mike while he was unaware of me, but then I came on the radio to tell him he’d been spotted.  He finally found me and made a face.  This is that face. 

Oh, and the egg salad sandwiches and ice cold chocolate milk are to die for.  If that’s your kind of thing, of course…



Masters Preview Thursday: The beauty

Tim Clark hits his approach shot on No. 2 during the first round of the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club, Thursday, April 9, 2009. RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF

The beauty of the Augusta National is often talked about and well documented but nothing prepares you for actually seeing the real thing.  The prestine greens, perfect flowers, everything is where is should be.  It’s exactly what you imagine, only they made it cooler. 

When people find out I cover the Masters, they always ask what its like.  I always tell them two things.  1- It’s as beautiful as you think; the National does everything exactly right, or they don’t do it at all.  2-Setting foot on the course is like stepping back in time.  Tradition is king.  Very little changes from year to year at the Tournament.  The only changes I’ve noticed in four Masters are that the fairway cross guards no longer wear yellow hard hats (ok, maybe that one wasn’t such a good decision to begin with…) and this year, the practice facilities have been built from the ground up on the old press parking lot (thanks!).  The fact that there are 60-foot pine trees sitting in what was a gravel lot 10 months ago says it all.

The above image is soothing to me.  It brings back mental images of how the light dances around the valleys and hills that make up the National.  Television doesn’t do the elevation changes justice.  And the trees lining most of the fairways are simply amazing.  At any point in the day, you can find a hole that has really graphic-looking shadows making for something interesting. 
We don’t typically use fairway approach pictures very often, and to be honest, I’m not even sure this ran in the paper but looking at it does the same thing to my brain as eating chocolate does.  It’s simply pleasing to the eye.

Some people say it’s hard to take a bad picture at the Masters.  I look at it more like it’s hard to take a picture that is good enough and conveys the beauty that is the Augusta National.