Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

18
Mar
14

another 12 hours of sebring done

Sebring grows on me every year I travel down to that old airfield-turned-racetrack in central Florida. At first sight, the circuit is flat, gray and characterless. When fans start to arrive and camp, the backgrounds get cluttered with flags and campers. It’s usually oppressively hot and the cement slabs that used to be runways for WWII bombers only reflect the brightness and heat back up to your eyes and face.

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As I’ve noticed in my years covering the 12 Hours, Sebring is indeed a very picky place photographically, but at the same time when you get it right, you can get it epically right (weather permitting).

In fact, Rick Dole, an outstanding photographer who has been doing this longer than I’ve been alive (sorry Rick!), and I decided that of the 12 Hours, you really only need to cover 4 of them (start and last 3.5 hours) because the light and heat waves during the rest of the time makes for terrible photography.

I wouldn’t say I love the place just yet, but I don’t hate it as much as in 2003…

 

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As always, thanks for looking.

-RAE

09
Jul
13

Pikes Peak rewind. Love this place.

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

It’s hard to explain what this event is all about. It’s the second oldest race in the United States after the Indy 500 and is run over a small two-lane road 12 miles up the side of a 14,110 foot mountain in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The competitor with the fastest time to the top, wins. At the base of it all, it’s simple.

But as weather and surface conditions change from corner to corner – where a racer can start at the bottom in full sunshine and finish at the top in the snow, passing through rain, hail and fog on the way up – competitors begin to drop, literally, off the mountain.

To me, along with a few other events around the world (Isle of Man TT for example), Pikes Peak remains one of the last completely crazy races that I’m surprised actually still exists.

Pikes Peak Practice

Nine-time World Rally champion Sébastien Loeb, of France, joined with manufacturer Peugeot to have a go at the all-time time record, since the entire road was paved from bottom to top two years ago.  The previous record was 9 minutes 46 seconds. He did it in 8 minutes 13 seconds. Pretty damn incredible.

Pikes Peak Practice

During the week of Pikes Peak, it’s a photographer’s delight. Practice each day starts at sunrise (5:30am) and runs until 9am. The day starts at 2:30am and is effectively over at 10am. It’s tough on the body, what with the altitude and hiking/climbing with all the gear, but it’s so photogenic. The more I come here, the more I think it’s truly one of the greatest events to shoot.

Pikes Peak Practice

Long shadows, low sun, crazy weather conditions all make for great images. With no barriers, no marshalls to tell you where you can’t go, it’s the polar opposite to any race track. You’re only limited to how far you’re willing to climb.

Pikes Peak Practice

There are only a few drivers I’m willing to stand in a ditch like this to get an image. Easily one of the best drivers the world has ever known.

Pikes Peak Practice

Pockets of light. Pockets of trees. Pockets of clouds. Pockets of sun. Pockets of shadows…

Pikes Peak Practice

The mountain can be divided into three parts. The bottom section, fast and tricky, below the tree line. The middle section, slow with lots of switchbacks and drops. And the top section, again quick, with blind corners, and pretty much looks like Mars.

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Yes, that’s a Honda Odyssey minivan finishing at the top, above the clouds. Driven by Simon Pagenaud, of IndyCar fame. He had a blast (and was wearing an oxygen mask for the race).

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Drivers and riders (yes motorcycles compete as well, now THAT’s crazy) are stuck at the top of the mountain once they finish their run on race day. Above, Japanese legend Monster Tajima hangs out in the gift shop sipping hot chocolate.

Pikes Peak Practice

The shot everyone needed. 8 minutes 13 seconds. That’s an 87mph average over a small road up a mountain. That’s faster than most people average on the freeway. Congratulations to Sébastien Loeb and Peugeot. Very impressive.

As always, thanks for looking. Pikes Peak definitely makes it easy for me to enjoy my job.

-RAE

http://www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

21
Jun
13

Looking back at recent NASCAR work

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I feel like these blog posts are getting too few and too far between. Like I’m failing at promoting myself or something.  All I can say is that I’ve been very busy shooting for Getty, XPB and the Associated Press as well as my ‘day’ job as photo editor for Motorsport.com…and I have a three-year-old. That should cover it for any excuses I could get away with.

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May started off busy with Darlington NASCAR and continued with two straight weekends of Charlotte NASCAR (All-Star race and Coca Cola 600). Then it was on to Montréal for F1 (that will be a separate blog post) then on to Michigan for more NASCAR.

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There is a certain familiarity now with NASCAR, which is both good and bad. You can easily fall victim to the same ole’ thing and being safe, but you can also use that familiarity to challenge yourself and do something different. I’m probably guilty of doing both.

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Working with the Getty crew(s) who show up every weekend is pretty fantastic. It’s an opportunity to learn (you never stop the learning process, or the inspiration process for that matter). It’s also an opportunity to look at everyone’s take that day and say, well, once again we kicked ass. The standards are high and we strive to meet them.

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I enjoy finding moments during a race. Because, admittedly it can get a little boring at times. Coach Joe Gibbs was inadvertently working it during the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington (in deep south S.C.).

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Then there are the super rare moments when you can isolate a driver for a clean image.

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And scene-setters.

ImageAnd working the garage…to me a great and fun challenge to make something totally different.

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Now I’m off to Pikes Peak on Monday for the hill climbing race. This will be my second time, and I’ll know what to expect, which should help. I’m both dreading and excited about the 3am call times (they practice every day from sun up to about 10am, because it’s a public road). The light is stunning at that time, and there’s something about being at that altitude (14,000 ft.) that changes things. Really looking forward to it.

Oh, and for the record the Coca Cola 600 is about 100 miles too long. Someone should look into that.

-RAE

http://www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

31
Dec
12

Quick look back at 2012

Well, 2012 was my first full year as a freelance photojournalist and I’m thinking I made the most of it, even though there’s always more out there.  Aside from a whole lot of NASCAR, I started the year with politics and the presidential primaries in the south, followed by 2 weeks of Daytona 500 and Honda Classic PGA golf action.  Lots of football and basketball these days, with a peppering of news here and there.  Here’s a cross section of my 2012.  Shot my first F1 race, first Pikes Peak Hill Climb and first Nude Survivor (yes, nude).  Thanks to everyone who has helped me launch this freelance gig and to all my photo friends who talk shit all day and who can make one hell of a frame. When you branch out of the newspaper bubble, you realize there are some incredibly talented and hard-working photographers out there.  To the Getty NASCAR crew: you guys, week in and week out put together a fantastic set of work. It’s a lot of fun to work with such pro freelancers and staffers and it’s an honor to be part of that set of images.  To the AP editors and staffers in NY and ATL, I don’t know anyone who has done more to help out a brotha than yous guys. Having a small group of editors who trust you almost like a staffer to go get the job done right makes a world of difference from the photographer’s perspective (at least for me) and it makes me work my ass off for the team.

On to 2013!

-RAE

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21
Mar
12

Bristol debrief

Three very busy days at Bristol, in eastern Tennessee (think Deliverance) shooting for Getty.  When I wasn’t at the track, I was back at the hotel editing Sebring 12 Hours and Formula One Australian GP pictures for Motorsport.com.  I quite literally never had a break, getting up at 4am to download and caption photos from the other side of the globe.

At any rate, I finally got to discover Bristol, a half-mile track that pretty much encircles a football field, with stands all around it holding 160,000 people.  It’s a sight, even when empty.

Here are my favorites from the weekend.  From now on I’ll try to do these ‘debriefs’ from major events I shoot.  In other news, I finally got business cards. I’m totally legit now!

Thanks for looking as always,

-RAE

http://www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

A.J. Allmendinger sits in his car before qualifying.

Jeff Gordon goes through turns 3 and 4 during practice.

Kasey Kahne races at Bristol. This is what this track will do to your car. To the point you have to use duct tape for a number.

Sam Hornish, Jr. with his daughter before the start of the Nationwide race at Bristol.

During the afternoon K&N Series races this little pocket of light was moving across turn 2.

Jamie McMurray's crew works on his car during pit stops.

Fans climb the stairs to the stands. This place makes most football 'bowls' look like my son's lego set.

Danica Patrick, left, and Tony Stewart talk before the start of the Nationwide race. I love shooting the grid before a race. It's a challenge and sometimes you can get good emotion.

Clint Bowyer watches timing and scoring during practice at Bristol.

Brad Keselowski celebrates after winning the Food City 500.

25
Jan
12

South Carolina Politickin’ part two

Well, that was that.  After going going and going for three weeks, averaging two assignments every other day (weird how that works) instead of daily assignments, it all came to a conclusion for me in Charleston, S.C., covering Rick Santorum’s primary night party.

The biggest part I miss about working at a newspaper is the daily grind.  I love getting out everyday and making pictures.  As a freelancer, this happens less often of course, but all the politickin’ made for (almost) daily work.  It was refreshing to get up in the morning and know I had to get the job done and make pictures that day.

Here is a selection of my favorite campaign photos from the second half of the South Carolina swing.  Stay tuned for the ‘behind the scenes’ photos.

As always thanks for looking and enjoy.

-RAE

http://www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

U.S. Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney signs autographs during a campaign stop at Larkin's Sawmill in Greenville, South Carolina January 20, 2012. REUTERS/Rainier Ehrhardt

U.S. Republican presidential candidate former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum speaks during a campaign stop at The Clock restaurant in Boiling Springs, South Carolina January 20, 2012. REUTERS/Rainier Ehrhardt

U.S. Republican presidential candidate former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (C) greets supporters during a campaign stop at The Clock restaurant in Boiling Springs, South Carolina January 20, 2012. REUTERS/Rainier Ehrhardt

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, left, gets a hug from his wife, Karen, after speaking during a South Carolina Republican presidential primary night rally at the Citadel, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, in Charleston, S.C. Santorum says it's a "wide open race" for the GOP nomination, even after finishing a distant third in Saturday's primary. He'd hoped to build momentum from a late victory in the Iowa caucuses. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

An occupy protester throws glitter on Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum as he signs autographs after speaking at a South Carolina Republican presidential primary night rally at the Citadel, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

12
Jan
12

South Carolina politickin’

We’re into the swing of things here in South Carolina.  Candidates are criss-crossing the state and I’m getting work about every other day so far.  I know as it gets closer to the day (Jan. 21) I’m going to get swamped.

Here are my favorite photos from all this politickin’ up til now.

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Rick Perry in Pickens, S.C.

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Newt Gingrich in Spartanburg, S.C.

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Mitt Romney in Greenville, S.C.

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Newt Gingrich in Spartanburg, S.C.

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Mitt Romney in Greenville, S.C.

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Rick Santorum in Greenville, S.C.

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Rick Perry in Spartanburg, S.C.

-RAE

http://www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

03
Nov
11

Recent work – quickie post

Below are some clips of recent work.  I had a very busy month of September – an encouraging start to freelancing in my first month.  October included a trip to South Africa to shoot the defending Masters champ, Charl Schwartzel (beat you to it Halleran!).  Hands down the nicest golfer I’ve ever worked with.  We got everything we needed, including video, and then some.  I thank him and his family for being so accommodating – it’s becoming too much of a rarity these days with pro athletes and entertainers.

So, we have Bill Haas hitting out of the water on 17 during a playoff with Hunter Mahan at the Tour Championship.

Followed by Jimmie Johnson getting out of his car at qualifying for the Talladega NASCAR race two weeks ago.  He’s in the news lately since his plane containing his boss, Rick Hendrick, crashed in Florida the other day.

Also, with political season gearing up, Michele Bachmann during a rally in Aiken, S.C. picked up by the AP and ZUMA.

Lastly, I include a sunset photo from Pretoria, South Africa, because lets face it, I’m a sucker for sunset photos but they rarely get published.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

28
Aug
11

departure from the Chronicle – part 1

As some of you know, I will be leaving the Augusta Chronicle in a few weeks.  No formal date has been set as of yet, mostly because my wife and I have the luxury of time during this transition.

My wife accepted (and has since started at) a job in Greenville, S.C. as a graphic designer for a company that makes educational material for special education teachers and students.  Her parents live there and the area is, no offense Augustans, what the CSRA should be.

When I leave, I will be a freelancer full-time, something I haven’t been since 2006.  At the time, I didn’t have the experience or (more importantly) the connections I have now.  It was a certain struggle back then, but somehow it led to bigger and better things (the Chronicle job, among others).  As of today, I don’t plan on being a freelancer for the rest of my working life.  That may change with success and/or time.

Being a newspaper photographer was the best job in the world.  I use ‘was’ because it will never be the same.  In the past let’s say 50 years, the field of photojournalism has evolved, sometimes by leaps and bounds (think digital cameras), but mostly at a relatively normal pace compared to the fields around it, including other newsroom jobs.  But the current economic climate and newspapers’ inability to capitalize on the Internet, photojournalism is not evolving as normal – taking new technology and ways of working in stride and adapting. No,  in reality, it’s going through a revolution…and no one, I guarantee it, can foresee in what shape it will be in when it comes out the other side. The difference between when I arrived here almost exactly 5 years ago and now is, no joke, night and day.  I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who’ve been in the business 10 years or 20.  It’s not even the same job anymore.

I titled this post ‘part 1’ because I plan on covering many facets of my time at the newspaper – things I’ve learned, things I’ve loved, things I’ve kinda hated.  And I’ll finish with what lies ahead.

I can start with stating two facts.

1 – I’ll miss the daily grind of newspaper work.  Getting up in the morning and not knowing what you’ll be up against, who you’ll meet, what you’ll get to do.  That excitement of grabbing your assignments and going out to make a picture.

2- I’ll miss the people I work with.  That common bond we journalists share called cynicism.  And we have a unique sense of humor, especially the photo dept. (everyone wants to hang with the cool kids, admit it.)

So. Off we go…

-RAE

http://www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

05
Jul
11

That Casey Anthony hoopla

While we were flipping through channels this evening, I paused on CNN for a minute to watch some lawyer spout off about the Casey Anthony verdict, and my wife turned to me and asked something I hadn’t considered yet.  “How did this whole Casey Anthony thing get so big?” she asked.  And that’s a really good question.  I don’t know.  It’s not like she’s a famous football player/actor or something.  She’s middle America.  Unfortunately murder cases come up all the time in this country and they barely get noticed outside their city or state. Where did all this media attention come from?

Of course, when I heard that a verdict had been reached and that it would be read at 2:15p.m. EST, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to add to that media attention.  So I hurried down to Nacho Mama’s with an idea.  I had just been there for lunch that day and remembered that the TV was on in the kitchen (you can see the cooks from over the bar).  When I got there, I still had about 15 minutes to spare so I shot a few frames of the cook with CNN tuned in on the tele.  It was something, but not exactly what I wanted.  The TV was too small and it was difficult to get something that would read easily.  So I had another idea.  I hurried across the Savannah River to North Augusta in hopes that the WalMart would have a wall of televisions set to CNN or Fox News.  But as I made my way to the back of the store I realised my error.  I remembered that most big box stores don’t have cable on their TVs on demo.  Instead they have a loop that plays extraordinary action sequences like sky diving or rock climbing to show off the 1080p or i or whatever it is.  I confirmed with the electronics manager. No cable.  Bummer.

So I rushed back to Nacho Mama’s, know that the potential for a decent frame was there, I just needed to hope for a decent close up of Anthony as she cried or smiled or whatever.  By the time I got there, the verdict had been read but they were replaying her reaction over and over.  I basically reshot the same picture but with a more interesting image on the tube to give it more context.

Guess this is my little way of saying I was there.  For better or for worse.

Cooks Mike Goings, left, and Erik Starlings prepare food while watching the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial in the kitchen at Nacho Mama's, Tuesday, July 5, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/The Augusta Chronicle, Rainier Ehrhardt)

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com