Posts Tagged ‘chronicle

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

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

12
Nov
10

Veterans Day

Members of the Westside High School marching band perform during the Veterans Day parade, Thursday, November 11, 2010, in Augusta, Ga.

The weather was perfect, the light was nice, and the long shadows created by buildings and trees made for some different and exciting photos of an otherwise, and this by no means I don’t like them, completely overshot event in the photojournalism world: parades.

At first glance, anyone with a visual tendency will recognize that parades offer a range of things to shoot, no matter what it’s about – Veterans Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s, whatever.  People are dressed up, there’s usually floats, cars, happy onlookers, etc.  The list is pretty long.  Photojournalists take pictures of people doing things, and there is a lot of that going on at parades. 

So I guess that’s why parades remain probably the single most covered (in terms of photography) community events in the U.S.  And as a result, original images are very hard to come by.  Ask any photographer and he or she can give you a list of parade pictures they’ve shot or seen shot: candy throwing, Shriners doing donuts in go-karts, troops marching, bands playing, onlookers waving, parade walkers waving,  drunk Irishmen waving, floats with people waving and in the case of Christmas, Santa waving.  Done and done.  Such is a pj’s life.

So, I went into yesterday’s Veterans Day parade expecting to find cliches and a mission to avoid them as much as possible.  Luckily, the weather cooperated and the low humidity provided crisp sunlight and very blue skies – two factors that truly improve photos.  This simultaneously energized me to find some new angles or moments, and made those cliche shots bearable to shoot, knowing they were at least well lit and purdy-like.

So there you have it.  Another Veterans Day parade in the books.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

Children from Curtis Baptist daycare wave small American flags during the Veterans Day parade, Thursday, November 11, 2010, in Augusta, Ga.

 

Members of the military march during the Veterans Day parade, Thursday, November 11, 2010, in Augusta, Ga.

Patricia Haley holds a photograph of her father, who was a World War II veteran, during the Veterans Day parade, Thursday, November 11, 2010, in Augusta, Ga.

Students from Curtis Baptist Elementary watch the Veterans Day parade, Thursday, November 11, 2010, in Augusta, Ga.

27
Oct
10

My run in with Jennifer Keeton

First a little background for those unfamiliar with local Augusta news (although this did make the national news for a millisecond a few weeks back.) 

Jennifer Keeton is a graduate student at Augusta State University studying education counseling.  Apparently she told a group of students something along the lines of homosexuality is wrong and she believes this because of her religion and wants to convert them.  ASU told her to stop and now she’s suing for infringement of her rights.  That’s the really really basic gist of it. 

When the news broke, a photo of her on a balcony was provided to the media (from whom I don’t know) which has pretty much circled the globe 63 times by now.  At my paper, The Augusta Chronicle, everytime we wrote an update story to how the case was going (it’s still going by the way), we’d use that same picture over and over again.  Sometimes cropped into a mug (journalism speak for headshot) or the full picture. 

I don’t know a single newspaper editor that doesn’t start having a nervous twitch when a mug has been run more than three times.  It’s just stale as last week’s bread, and a fresh picture becomes a priority.  Of course, Keeton was ordered by the court to stop attending class for the time being and although we have her address, we aren’t going to go paparazzi her house.   So as the news calmed and no new developments with the case were in sight, the urgency for a fresh picture died down and it became the general consensus around the newroom that it was now a waiting game. A waiting game to see when she’d show up at a public event. 

Now on to last Tuesday.  I was assigned to cover a meet and greet with Pam Tebow, mother of ex-quarterback for the Florida Gators Tim Tebow, who garnered fame because of the pro-life commercial she made for this year’s Superbowl.  At any rate, she tours the country speaking to groups about abortion.

I was a little early so I casually walked up the center stair case at the downtown Marriott that leads to the various ballrooms and conference rooms.  And as I got to the top, I stopped dead in my tracks when I instantly recognized Jennifer Keeton.  Of course, she instantly looked at me too, what with all the photo gear on me I was less than inconspicuous.  We both shared an instant moment of heart sinkage.  But to her credit she kept it cool.  And I hope I did as well while nonchalantly walking past as I looked for the Lamar room. 

I knew Pam Tebow would arrive shortly and that THE shot would be the two shaking hands or talking to one another.  After a few feable attempts to get something from far away – just in case – Tebow arrived and that’s when I let discreteness take a backseat.  I got close and fired like a mad man (of course seconds earlier the autofocus on my camera stopped working, so I had to revert to manually focusing in a dark hallway where I couldn’t actually see if things were sharp or not — I’d later discover that a switch had been flipped to manual focus by accident.)  Pam Tebow had no idea who she was and continued to ham it up for the camera, over facial expressing and over exhuberantly shaking hands.  No matter, because in this picture, it makes Tebow look like even she’s surprised to see Keeton for the first time in months.  There’s nothing really remarkable about the photo, except for its news value.

Anyway, I ran back to the paper and got a few pat on the backs for being at the right place at the right time.  News-wise I’d say I’ve had a pretty good week so far.

Pam Tebow, right, speaks with Jennifer Keeton, left, at the Augusta Care Pregnancy Center banquet, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

20
Oct
10

Tall buildings and high places

From left, Ben Keilholtz, Joe Grabb and Greg James, all from AAA Sign, attach the "G" from Wells Fargo on the old Wachovia building, Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, in Augusta, Ga.

Let’s be clear about this:  I hate heights.  Not in the sense that you can say you hate carrots, simply because you’re over exaggerating a distaste for them.  It’s more like I loathe heights.

Probably related, I also have a deep fear of them.  An irrational muscle tightening and body paralyzing fear that strikes whenever I get on a ladder any higher than 10 rungs. 

I was reminded of all this when I was escorted to the 17th floor of the old Wachovia building and into the storage/maintenance facility wedged between the top of the building and the Pinnacle Club.  All this to photograph a crew putting up the new Wells Fargo signage on the side of the building.  Then came the worst part – and something I should have remembered from my previous trip to the roof of this building – the two story free climb up a perfectly vertical steel ladder attached to a wall next to the equally tall air conditioning units. Two of the cylinder rungs near the top are bent, as if an elephant had recently tried to use it (how you bend a metal ladder at that height is beyond me.) 

Being on the roof of a tall building, with a wall surrounding me is not the issue.  It’s when there’s open space below that gets me.  And that’s why that two story climb is exponentially worse for my nerves than hanging out on the roof and enjoying the view of sunny Augusta and North Augusta.

And then there’s the very awkward and embarrassing, if anyone’s with you, transitioning between the ladder and flat roof surface – with camera equipment.  It almost always ends up being a mix of falling and rolling oddly onto the flat surface.  No matter how hard you try, you can’t look cool as you take your shaking hands and grab at anything attached to the floor only to imitate Shamu jumping out of the SeaWorld pool.    

But, once on the roof, there’s a small retaining wall all the way around so as long as I keep my eyes looking level, or up, I’m ok…until I have to take pictures of guys attaching a giant G to the building’s side 20 feet below me.  There’s no other way to get a good shot without leaning over the side, thus exposing myself to the open space below.  As I’m taking pictures, the guy on the roof, making sure the hanging scaffolding is secure for the three men below, asks me: “Hey you should get down there with them, and feel how it swings.”

Um. No. Thanks.

This is all topped off with the process of getting down, this time with the equally awkward transition from surface to ladder, in reverse (arguably less dumb looking but probably more dangerous.)

I’m always so happy to return to solid ground after these assignments. 

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com