Posts Tagged ‘chronicle



10
Aug
10

Scrubs

Part of what makes this job so appealing is its unpredictable nature.  One day I’m taking pictures of back to school activities, the next I’m in scrubs and documenting a full on surgery. 

And when the location, or event is so off the charts cool, or fun, or unique, you gotta take a second to take a picture of yourself — if only to say that you were there, a little like a badge of honor (some sports shooters collect credentials, like Olympic, Super Bowl or Masters passes).

I have a collection of work related self-portraits (and they’re always the same: me making a face holding the camera an arm’s length away with something cool in the background.)  Me at the Masters. Me on the roof of Curtis Baptist Church. Me in Ushuaia, Argentina.  Me in full scrubs in an OR. 

This morning at University Hospital, I joined the subject of one of the stories we are doing for breast cancer awareness month in October.  She has been a very willing and easy going subject through out the whole thing and allowed me and a writer to be present during her double mastectomy.  And as things were winding down, I had to take a moment to turn the camera and document myself as being present. 

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

23
Jul
10

makes you wonder

My job takes me to a lot of different places.  Most of the time, those places are interesting, fun, or in some form or fashion, meaningful.  And some times, I’d rather not have seen that place to begin with as was the case with the old Castleberry’s food plant on the edge of Augusta’s ghetto. 

For a little background, Castleberry’s (owned by Bumble Bee) canned chilis and stews at a plant that, from the outside, looked old and dirty and honestly didn’t give the impression that the inside was any cleaner.  A couple of years ago, they had a massive recall of their chilis due to botulism.  The bad press mixed with the downturn in the economy meant that Castleberry’s closed the plant and abandoned it soon after. 

Fast forward to this past week, when it was announced that Mercy Ministries, a controversial homeless shelter in the middle of a residential area across town, would be moving its thrift store to the old Castleberry’s plant after buying it for a dollar.  This was good news and meant an old building would be used again and Mercy Ministries would be able to expand on the cheap. 

To illustrate their “moving in,” I was charged with the task of finding the electrician who was trying to find all the switch points and fuse boxes to shut off electricity to unused areas and restore it to the rooms to be filled with people’s used stuff for sale.  This task proved time consuming and while I waited on him to do something interesting enough to photograph for the paper, I roamed around this completely abandoned warehouse and food factory. 

Nearly everything that was metal was rusted out, fluorescent lights dangled from the ceiling and piping was bent, cracked or just plain missing.  The only thing not somewhat attached was this bucket, which looked like it was being used to catch leaking oil or hydraulic fluid of some kind.  Coming from what, I don’t know.  It was all a little creepy.

A lone bucket sits in the old Castleberry's food plant, soon to be taken over by Mercy Ministries and their thrift store operation. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Makes you wonder what this place looked like two years ago.

I shoot a self-portrait of myself in a curve mirror as I stand next to piles of used clothing to be sold at the new Mercy Ministries thrift store, housed in the old Castleberry's food plant. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

I still had time to take a picture of myself in one of those curved mirror you see at particularly dangerous or blind corners.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

12
Jul
10

got to ride in a helicopter!

Being stuck in row 44 of 45 on a commercial airliner flying through thunderstorms complete with screaming  babies and bad airplane food = clearly sucks.

Having your own helicopter for 15 minutes to shoot exclusive pictures of major breaking news = clearly awesome.

A gas line near Stagecoach Road burns after a rupture, Monday, July 5, 2010, in Thomson, Ga. McDuffie County Commissioner Paul McCorkle was injured and his son Jason killed during a gas explosion and fire. Following a preliminary investigation, it was determined that Paul McCorkle was operating a bulldozer on the property and accidentally struck a Dixie Pipelines liquid propane gas line. RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF

Because we are a newspaper, reporters and photographers have to be on call at all times, including holidays.  The photo department deals with this by having one photographer assigned to be on call that day in case news happens.  Of the four holidays I’ve been assigned since 2006, two of them have involved major breaking news in a town not really known for its breaking news.  I’m apparently a magnet for holiday michief and disaster.
The Fourth of July (observed) holiday is never a very exciting day.  The assigned photographer usually finds a standalone to fill out the paper and maybe catches kids playing in a pool or something.  That was supposed to be my day until I got two calls and an email almost simultaneously that a gas main had exploded and was still on fire.  The smoke is visible for miles, all three people said in their messages.  So I grabbed the 500mm and headed out to Thomson, normally a 30 minute drive.
Twenty minutes, later, I arrived at Stagecoach Road, where it was blocked off by state troopers.  As I gathered my gear, I could hear the roar of the giant fire only a few hundred yards away through the forest.  I went over to the nearest grouping of officials and asked what was the status and how far could I go up the access road to take pictures.  One of the firefighters said right where I was standing was perfect and not to go any further.  I could see the flames through the trees, but it wouldn’t have made a good image.  So I turned and mentioned to a guy in a flight suit (I’d realize what he was wearing a bit later) that it’s useless for me to be standing here, I need flames.  Little did I know,  I was talking to Todd Hatfield, director of operations at Air Med, who also flies the helicopter.

As luck would have it, he immediately offered to take me up to take photos.  Before I could remember that I absolutely hate flying, I said “you betcha!” and off we went toward the chopper.  What had I done.  I was committed now.  This guy was doing a nice thing for me and it would almost be rude for me to back out now.  Not to mention, I needed to get photos, and this was by far my best chance to get something good.

So I got in the back of the helicopter, strapped myself in and made sure my cameras were wrapped around me and my neck because Todd was leaving the door open for me to get a better view.  The flight was uneventful, and I honestly didn’t have time to think about how much normally I would be hating it because I was so focused on making pictures.

So to recap: At 11:o0 a.m., I was sitting quietly at my desk in the air conditioning.  By noon, I was 700 feet in the air over a roaring gas pipeline fire.  Nice.

-RAE

http://www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

04
Jun
10

graduatin’ time

Never one for pomp and circumstance, I didn’t go to my college graduation, and I would have skipped my high school ceremonies had I been given the option (remember how the principal threatened the kids likely to “act” up by holding on to our real diplomas until we had actually walked across the stage and left the building? I remember really having a problem with that, as my inner adolescent was outraged that they could keep us from doing anything we wanted at this point…we were going to graduate no matter what, and no amount of chest beating and attempted power wielding was going to scare us.)  But I digress.

And, most appropriately, I don’t plan on attending my 10 year high school reunion when it’s held…tomorrow. Yes it’s been 10 years, and for the past five, I’ve tried my best to ignore the facebook messages urging everybody to attend.  No, instead I’ll spend the weekend in Greenville with the in-laws who still (and hopefully always will) ooh and aah over my new son.

As things come full circle, I spent last week and the week before covering our local high school graduation ceremonies (thankfully, all of the schools’ events are grouped together in one arena).

Near total darkness aside, graduations at the James Brown Arena are quite fun to shoot.  We have the run of the place, so you can get all kinds of angles and you have good access to the graduates as they hug and celebrate.

Below is a picture I quite like, but thought it was a throwaway shot at the time of pressing the shutter button.  It breaks a bunch of photojournalism “rules” (more like suggestions, really) including rule of thirds and the old ‘faces sell newspapers’ which, sorry to say, only word people think.

But it’s an easy read and it tells a nice story about the journey they are about to embark on.  They’re leaving one thing behind and going through new doors to their futures.  It works, I think.

New graduates Juanita Cody, left, and Kelsea Leverett hug as they walk out of James Brown Arena after A.R. Johnson graduation ceremonies, Tuesday, May 25, 2010, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

26
May
10

(accidentally) getting involved

As journalists, and even more so, as photographers, we constantly try to stay out of the situation we are photographing.  We try to be a fly on the wall, letting the subjects do what they do while we document the situation. Sometimes this is difficult to get into peoples’ heads (i.e.: no I don’t want you to pretend you’re doing something, just do it naturally, as if I wasn’t here), but that’s for another blog post.

Last week, I got a call from bossman to head to North Augusta to shoot a giant dredge boat/pontoon being prepared for shipment to Canada.  It was cool. Very cool.  A 400,000 pound boat with a huge “ladder,” an arm that lowers with big teeth on the end to remove silt from the bottoms of ponds and such.  There were workers all over the place, cutting, wiring, welding, walking in dangerous places, the whole nine yards.  And the owner was really cool about showing me around, and even left me for a bit so I could do my thing.  Usually that’s a dream assignment; the kind where you have free reign to walk around shooting very photogenic things going on? 

Yeah.  Except apparently I need parental supervision because I accidentally dropped a memory card down the ONE crack in the boat that led to nowhere.  It didn’t even bounce on anything, it just fell straight down, perpendicular to the ground and directly into the slot between the hull and the pontoon.

Now, normally, if it had been a fresh card without ALL OF THE STUFF I HAD JUST SHOT on it, I would have considered letting it go as a gift to the photo gods, if you will.  But I needed those images.  So after getting on my knees and peering into the darkness to determine that it really had gone deep into the bowels of this $4 million boat, I had to resign myself to asking one of the workers to help me out.  His name was Ethan Robert and boy do I owe him a beer or 12. 

Long story short, he went to the ground with a long rod and started pulling (pushing, scraping, etc.) out a bunch of junk from underneath this boat that had been sitting there for a year, maybe more.  Everything but a very thin, small memory card.  By now half the crew is paying attention to me and Ethan.  People are getting flashlights, getting the air compressor ready to “blow it out.”  In other words, I halted work on this huge boat. Single handedly.  Ugh.  The opposite of what I could ever have wanted. 

All said and done, we figured out it was on a hook where the hull attaches to the fuel tank.  Ethan managed to knock it off the hook and drag it out.  Save for a bit of dirt, it was ok, and it later worked fine in the card reader.  And the images were fine. 

Ethan Robert uses a metal rod to retrieve me memory card that I stupidly dropped into the bowels of a 400,000 pound boat. I'm smooth like that.

Ethan’s the man.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

19
May
10

pond jump

OK fine, it was bound to happen.  But I’m proud of myself for holding out for so long.  The cliche to end all cliches in community photojournalism…the first cute kid photo has made it to my blog. 

But can you blame me?  It’s the fastest most effective way to get a picture with a reaction or a funny face, probably because kids are so unadulterated.  But that’s only part of it.  The real reason I like kid assignments is the high cost/benefit ratio.  The harder I work a situation with kids in it, the more likely I will get something good.  It’s super rewarding.  The longer I hang around, the faster the kids will totally forget I’m there and just act natural.  Adults don’t do that.  By contrast, I can show up to an adult meeting, or event, and hang out for hours and never get anything worth while.  It’s not that I didn’t try, but the assignment was doomed from the start.

Nathan Stewart, 5, makes a face as he looks for insects during Pond Jump, a learning activity for children including dipping nets in a pond to find frogs, tadpoles and insects at Reed Creek Wetlands Interpretive Park, Tuesday, May 18, 2010, in Martinez, Ga. RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF

Daniel Huntsman, 5, uses his muddy strainer to look for tadpoles during Pond Jump, a learning activity for children including dipping nets in a pond to find frogs, small fish and insects at Reed Creek Wetlands Interpretive Park, Tuesday, May 18, 2010, in Martinez, Ga. RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF

The mud and water in this boy’s boots  made a squishing sound everytime he came running to his mom or dad to show off a crawfish or tadpole.  How is that not cute?

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

And that’s my five minutes of uncynical-ness for the day.

02
Apr
10

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…

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

01
Apr
10

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.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

31
Mar
10

Masters Preview Wednesday: Great Expectations

Tiger Woods throws his club after his shot from the 18th fairway lands in the gallery during the first round of the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club Thursday April 9, 2009. RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF

Before you roll your eyes, yes that’s a photo of Tiger Woods.  And aside from the complete cluster that will be the Monday of his return, he will be feeling the pressure to “perform” at the Masters despite the distractions.  But as different as this time around will be, it will actually be more like recent years than you’d think.

Every year, The Masters Tournament is Tiger’s to lose.  Everyone still agrees he’s the best golfer, and he’s done very well here in the past.  So it stands to reason that he will eventually win again.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Tiger has not won in my three years covering the Masters.  Therefore my photographic perception of him is skewed toward a club tossing, tantrum throwing and ugly face making Tiger Woods.  Not the fist pumping, joyous outburst version I’ve heard about from colleagues.  Granted, every year he’s been pretty close, and if he were a guy like Shingo Katayama, he’d be happy for a good showing, and recognize that the golf course clearly beat him that day.  But ending up in the top 5 or 10 to Tiger just means he lost a little slower than those who finished behind him.  It’s win or lose for him, especially at the Augusta National.

Every April is Tiger Watch.  People are drawn to him for a multitude of reasons, and we’re there to capture that.

But no matter how you look at it, a good photo of Tiger celebrating victory will always trump a good photo of Tiger losing it on Masters Sunday.  Because nobody likes a loser.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

30
Mar
10

Masters Preview: the joy

His name is Shingo Katayama, and I hope he wins the Masters one day. 

The man knows how to give it up when he does well.  And in 2009, he did pretty darn well.  He finished fourth at 10-under so he had good reason to celebrate.  But Shingo celebrates fourth as if he won the thing.

The photo staff at the Chronicle jokes that if he ever takes the green jacket, he’ll be making snow angels in the bunker and running around the 18 green high-fiving everyone.  And that’s probably not very far from what would really happen.

So, for this Tuesday edition of the Masters Preview blog post, here are two photos from Shingo’s walk up to 18 green on Easter Sunday, 2009. What a demonstration of joy.

Shingo Katayama, of Japan, celebrates as he walks to the 18th green during the final round of Masters Tournament, Sunday, April 12, 2009, in Augusta, Ga. RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF

Shingo Katayama, of Japan, celebrates as he walks to the 18th green during the final round of Masters Tournament, Sunday, April 12, 2009, in Augusta, Ga. RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post: Expectations

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com