Posts Tagged ‘augusta

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

 

 

28
Jun
11

Georgia football and the war of northern aggression

Some assignments are beyond words.

One of our reporters is doing a story on people doing searches for their ancestors who fought in the Civil War (or War of Northern Aggression, as I’d soon find out from my subjects).  I arrived for the assignment and noticed what a quaint little neighborhood it was.  It was a pretty recent development and the house I was about to go into was a cozy, well kept home.

But when I walked in, it was 1865.  General Lee portraits everywhere, confederate flags, commemorative pistols and knives, you name it.  Before I shot the couple’s portrait, they gave me a quick tour of the hallway, where most of the important stuff was hung.

This caught my eye.

What. The. Hell.  Georgia football players rushing the field against General Sherman and his army on horseback?  I was speechless.

In fact, I’ll post what it says in small print on the picture…because it’s worth noting. Trust me.

“Whether or not the University of Georgia was playing football in the fall of 1864; or whether or not the Union General William Tucumseh Sherman had knowledge that those ferocious Bulldogs were engaged in such a sport; or whether or not anyone other than a Georgia Bulldog fan wishes to believe the following account of what happened, does not detract in the least from this fantasy of that historical event….

General Sherman’s original intentions were to march directly from Atlanta, Georgia to Columbia, South Carolina, (where he later appeared, pillaged, and burned the capitol of that great Southern State). However, after approaching Sanford Stadium at Athens, Georgia, he suddenly realized his terrible mistake.  Barely escaping with his life, he then wisely decided to take his army six hundred miles out of his way to Savannah by the sea.”

Amazing is all I got to say.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

23
Jun
11

Cycling time trials

Avery Wilson competes in the junior category during the USA Cycling National Championships individual time trial at Lake Strom Thurmond, Thursday, June 23, 2011, near Clarks Hill, S.C.

Not too much to say about today other than I spent 5 hours on and off the Lake Strom Thurmond dam shooting pictures of hardcore road cyclists during individual time trials for the USA Cycling National Championships.  Then back to the office to edit photos for the newspaper, a photo gallery and a video.  One assignment = one full day.

The coolest part is the sound those carbon fibre wheels make when they pass by.  Whoosh whoosh whoosh.  It’s pretty nifty.  And I have a tan now too.

Tomorrow is the criterium.  If there’s a crash, I’ll post a blog don’t worry.

-RAE

http://www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

30
May
11

Court reporters

Court reporters fascinate me.

I spend more than my fair share of time in courtrooms waiting to get a sub-par picture of a shackled suspect as they are whisked by me.  To pass the time, I often pay attention to the court reporter.

They are almost always women.  They have intense eyes as they pay attention with more fervor to what’s being said than I ever did on any math test.  But at the same time, the rest of her body usually seems to be doing something else, as if she’s painting her toenails under the desk.  And finally, they talk into that weird contraption.

What the hell are they saying into that thing?  Is it some kind of shorthand speak that only the computer recognises?  Is it a standardised language?  How different is it from what the lawyer in the cheap suit is actually saying?  How detailed is it really? Every word? Mostly the gist? Sometimes the back and forth gets pretty darn fast.

All these questions are thrust upon me every time I have to shoot an assignment in a courtroom.

On one recent trip (to the sparkling new courthouse so I was excited), one of the cases before the one I had to shoot related to an assistant band teacher, HIV positive mind you, who was accused of have sex with one of his students.  Now this was just the bond hearing, but a lot of gruesome details were brought up by the young prosecutor that this poor court reporter had to transcribe in detail.  While most of the court was shaking their heads softly and some were mumbling words of astonishment, this lady was hard at work, never flinching.  Clearly she had heard this type of story a million times before. Fellatio, sodomy – somehow the use of clinical, sterile words in context makes it worse.

Which begs the question, at what point does it get normal?  This was a question I routinely asked when I used to do a feature on local dirty jobs called Grime Pays.  At what point do you forget you’re waist deep in raw sewage?  Or when do you stop noticing the smell in your clothes after a day of picking up roadkill?  The answer was almost always very quickly.  Partly because your senses get dulled from routine exposure, and partly because the mind is quite a powerful thing.  If it’s thrust into a particularly unpleasant situation, it will turn things off in order to survive, or at least in this case to make life relatively bearable while spraying down used port-o-potties.

At any rate, here’s a picture of that particular court reporter hard at work.  Looking at the photo now, it kind of seems like a lonely job.  Just you, your short-term memory and the mic thing.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

 

10
May
11

Masters best ofs and outtakes

My 2011 Masters Golf Tournament reedited slightly.  After a week of shooting golf I seem to have needed exactly a month in order to stomach looking at them again.

I’ve experienced five Masters now.  In many ways they’ve all been different, but they’ve also been the same.  After five years, your ‘fresh’ eyes have all but disappeared.  You know what works and what doesn’t and you’re subconsciously editing yourself in order to save time and (most often) energy.  My theory is that your second Masters is your best.  You’re still fresh and excited from your first time, but now you’re more familiar with your surroundings so you’re not hindered by logistics so to speak.

At any rate, here they are!  How about in chronological order so we don’t play favorites.

Thanks for looking as always,

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

Patrons walk across an expanse of grass during Monday's practice round for the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club, Monday, April 4, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Martin Kaymer zips up his jacket as he walks on No. 13 during Tuesday's practice round at the Augusta National, Tuesday, April 5, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Honorary starters Jand Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer with chairman Billy Payne after teeing off on the first tee to open Thursday's first round of the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National, Thursday, April 7, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Tiger Woods reacts to missing a birdie putt on No. 10 during Thursday's first round of the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National, Thursday, April 7, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Charl Schwartzel walks along sixteen during Saturday's third round of the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National, Saturday, April 9, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Rory McIlroy on 18 during Saturday's third round of the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National, Saturday, April 9, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Tiger Woods eagle on number 8 during Sunday's final round of the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National, Sunday, April 10, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Charl Schwartzel, right, and K.J. Choi after Schwartzel's eagle on number 3 during Sunday's final round of the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National, Sunday, April 10, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Charl Schwartzel, of South Africa, reacts after making birdie on No. 16 during Sunday's final round of the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National, Sunday, April 10, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Charl Schwartzel, of South Africa, reacts after making birdie on No. 18 to win during Sunday's final round of the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National, Sunday, April 10, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Tiger Woods walks along the water on No. 16 during Sunday's final round for the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 10, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

03
Mar
11

an act of light

A small pocket of light is a photographer’s best friend.

He motivates me when the alternative is a standard kids-learning-in-school photo.  He surprises me when I least expect it, and usually at the most unusual places.  He allows me to set a mood and let the background go black – not darker, or underexposed, but black.  In short, he’s nature’s spot grid…and thank goodness for that.  

Assistant Pre-K teacher Debora Williams, center, reads a Dr. Seuss book with Adrian Murray, 4, left, William Wallace, 4, second from right, and Connor McQuiston, 4, right, during Pre-K class at Oak Brook Country Day School, Tuesday, March 1, 2011, in Martinez, Ga. The Southern Education Foundation released a study on the financial impact Georgia's Pre-K program has on the state. Last year, the program saved the state $34 million in long term costs because Pre-K decreases the chance children will have to go through special education or repeat grades. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

 

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

20
Jan
11

In memoriam

I love shooting inside Sacred Heart Cultural Center.  Actually, I’m pretty sure all the photographers on staff here love to shoot there.  It’s by far the most photogenic building inside and out in Augusta. 

It was standing room only at Boone Knox’s memorial service held Monday afternoon.  The place was packed with the most influential people in the area – not surprising considering Knox’s phenomenal life and career.  And long-time friend Tom Cousin’s eulogy was wonderful.  I always enjoy funny stories about someone’s life that paint a picture of who that person was and how they treated others.  Mr. Knox was a class act for sure. 

Here’s a little something different from pretty much the only spot I could get to with the mass of people downstairs.  It’s an outtake but it fills my need to shoot repeating patterns and symmetrical photos.

Mourners sing a hymn during a memorial service for Boone Knox at Sacred Heart Cultural Center, Monday, January 17, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

And besides, I got lots of good comments on the suit I wore from colleagues.  It’s not everyday I wear a tie, that’s for sure.  One reporter told me I looked like a totally different person.  Guess that means I’m a slob the rest of the time…

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

04
Jan
11

fishin’

Leland Rodgers fishes on the Savannah River, Monday, Dec. 27, 2010, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

I guess there’s no better way to start out 2011 than with a left over image from 2010, since I’m constantly in a state of catch up.  You’d think with the new year, 2011 would start fresh but alas that’s not the case.

Motivation is a fickle thing.  It changes depending on an infinite amount of factors; your mood, the weather, subject matter, what you had for breakfast that day, etc.

Around the holidays, there is so little to cover that newspapers start to get desperate.  School’s out, government is out, high school sports are all done for the season – for the most part, people are closed up in their toasty homes enjoying family and friends.  That’s good for them, bad for us (it is a generally accepted fact that reporters and photographers have good days when bad days happen for others – it’s just the reality of things, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

At any rate, one of the Chronicle reporters who is usually pretty good about scaring up a decent story when in a bind, was doing a story on how the Army Corps of Engineers was planning on releasing more water into the Savannah River from the dam upstream.  Well, how do you illustrate something that hasn’t happened yet?  And in a time crunch?  You go to where the end result will be and hope for the best.  This is how I found myself on the 5th Street bridge waiting for something, anything, to happen on the river. 

These things can be agonizing.  An oft used phrase in photojournalism, ‘hurry up and wait,’ definitely had the potential to make for a long day.  But as I walked along the sidewalk and took a peek over the railing, there he was. I hadn’t seen him from the car because he was almost underneath the bridge.   A man bundled up in countless layers floating in a small boat trying his best to fish in nearly freezing conditions.  Because let’s face it, that’s the way we all wish we could spend the afternoon.

Fishing pictures come a dime a dozen, but I’m attached to this one for some reason.  I guess it’s the best fishing moment I’ve caught with my camera (because that’s saying a lot, right?)  But at the end of the day, to me, it’s just pretty light with lots of negative space and reminds me of how I’d feel if I were in that boat.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

30
Nov
10

a found photo

When I’m driving around and see something that could be fun to shoot, I admit I don’t stop nearly as often as I should.  Sometimes the warmth (or coolness if it is summer) of your car forces you to tell yourself that whatever you just glimpsed back there isn’t worth turning around for.  Sometimes it’s on a busy road and you don’t feel like risking your life for something so trivial.  Sometimes you’re reminded of all the other times you’ve taken the time to stop and it turned out to be nothing.  But then sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised by what you happen upon.  In any case, some days are better than others.

When I passed this scene while circling a block in downtown Augusta, I knew I had to stop.  A 1964 Ford Falcon Futura for sale.  It was kind of hidden in a wide alley on Ellis Street – a street rarely travelled, to the point that we had a city commissioner who wanted to flood the whole thing to make it a navigable canal a la San Antonio.  I felt that this was a find worthy of a 2 minute stop. 

It’s not that I’m some Ford Falcon superfan or anything, but I am a car guy.  And I’ve always been attracted to the lines of this car, one that pretty much represents the 60s in my mind (when you take out the gas guzzling Buicks and Cadillacs of the era.)  It kind of reminds me of a predecessor to the Ford Cortina, a British (don’t think they sold them in the States) car built by Ford Europe and pretty much started the company’s rallying success.  Anyone who has ever seen the car I drive (Subaru WRX) knows I’m a rallying nut.  And to a larger extent, I much more admire a smaller car that has a smaller engine but can pull the most from that engine to be quick, giving other cars with lots more weight and larger engines a run for their money so to speak. This is the reason I’d never buy a Mustang or Camaro, but prefer lightweight, turbo-charged and nimble cars. 

Not that this thing is light by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s probably made of steel throughout.  And look at the trunk lid for crying out loud, it’s bigger than my dinner table.  But these things are relative.

You know, the more I write about this, the more I can see myself cruising around in this thing with sunglasses on and the windows down.  And I’m curious what the price might be.  Hell, maybe I’ll give that number a ring.  For fun.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com