Posts Tagged ‘ehrhardt



No matter how hard I try to fight it, I’m a motorsports photographer at heart.  Always have been, always will be.  Sure I work at a newspaper to pay the bills, but in a perfect world I’d be out shooting cars and the people who make them go.

Last weekend was the 59th Sebring 12 Hours in Sebring, Florida.  It’s run on an old WWII airfield using two cement runways connected by 11 or so corners paved sometime in the 50s.  To say that it’s bumpy is an understatement, and I’m convinced it’s (only) 12 hours and not 24, like its Le Mans counterpart, because of how grueling it really is.  It’s always been said that if a team, driver, car can make it at Sebring, it can make it at Le Mans.

Below are a few of my favorite images from the weekend.  Oddly enough, the French team I translate press releases for won the whole thing.  Their first overall victory at Sebring and it was great fun to see them celebrate so much.

This year, I was big into using other people’s flashes to my advantage.  We were also lucky enough to get the famous sunset on the front straight.  And since we were two photographers for, it gave me the freedom to do something different rather than play it safe.  I think this might be my best take from a race so far in my 11 year motorsport career.  Enjoy.

Over 190 American Le Mans Series drivers pose for a photoshoot before the 12 Hours of Sebring, Tuesday, March 15, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Oreca driver NICOLAS LAPIERRE drives the Peugeot 908 during practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Rebellion Toyota Racing driver NICOLAS PROST looks on during testing for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Monday, March 14, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Corvette driver JAN MAGNUSSEN, of Denmark, looks on during practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

BMW Motorsport BMW M3 GT: ANDY PRIAULX, DIRK MULLER, JOEY HAND during night practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Audi Sport driver MIKE ROCKENFELLER, of Germany, drives the R15 Plus during night practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Mar 18, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Patron Ferrari driver DOMINIK FARNBACHER, of Germany, poses with a drawing of his F458 during an autograph session for the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Peugeot driver ANTHONY DAVIDSON, of England, drives the 908 during warmup for the 12 Hours of Sebring.

The infamous cracks in the cement during testing for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Monday, March 14, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Oreca driver NICOLAS LAPIERRE, of France, drives the Peugeot 908 during night practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Peugeot driver FRANCK MONTAGNY, of France, leads the field at the start of the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Peugeot driver PEDRO LAMY, of Portugal, waits during practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. The sun sets on the front straight during the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Oreca Peugeot driver LOIC DUVAL, of France, waits for the team's final pit stop during the 12 Hours of Sebring.

From left, Oreca technical director DAVID FLOURY, team principal HUGUES DE CHAUNAC, and driver OLIVIER PANIS, celebrate after winning the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Oreca Peugeot driver LOIC DUVAL is carried away from his car after winning the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Overall winners, from left, NICOLAS LAPIERRE, team principal HUGUES DE CHAUNAC, OLIVIER PANIS and LOIC DUVAL celebrate during podium celebrations at the 12 Hours of Sebring.




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




a spot o’ spot news.

Let me preface this post about spot news (unplanned news like shootings, fires, accidents, etc.) with a small disclaimer.

We cover the things that happen in and around our community.  This means the good and the bad, the glamorous and the not so glamorous.  With spot news, it is the nature of our jobs, that inevitably, someone’s misfortune is going to be our ‘good’ fortune.  I’ve touched on this before in previous posts and you have to take a small step back to look at the bigger picture.  A particular tragedy is very sad for those living through it, however, the public has a right to know what’s going on in their neighborhood.  Most newspapers have a certain threshold of spot news that they will give their attention to.  In other words, the explosion, fire, whatever, has to affect many people or cause a lot of damage to property – or must be unique in some way as to make it newsworthy (think car crashing through a liquor store window).  If we went out to cover every single fatal crash, then we’d truly be ambulance chasers.

Every newspaper is different.  Some cover spot news like there’s no tomorrow, handing out police scanners to photographers and reporters.  Others, and The Augusta Chronicle falls into this category, have one scanner in the newsroom and will only run out if there is something big that warrants it (see above).

All that to say, yes, I get excited when there’s a large fire to run to, or an explosion has rocked a pipeline in McDuffie county.  It’s a little like EMS workers and how they block out the suffering and pain they see everyday.  You get desensitized the more you’re around it.  And it’s part of a photojournalist’s moral quandary to decide whether to take a picture of a grieving father or tearful mother.   At that moment you realize that this is part of life, and it is a story worth telling.  No matter how heartbreaking.  It is what we do.

But luckily, this picture has a relatively happy ending.

Chanta Wise, left, a her son Marquis, hold their dog Reeses after it was rescued by firefighters during an apartment fire at Georgia Place Apartments, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. No injuries were reported. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

As I ran around the apartment complex to get a better look at where the firefighters were actually fighting the blaze, I saw one of the rescuers holding a pet carrier…with a dog in it.  I thought to myself, I’d better get ready because at any moment, the owner might come screaming out from nowhere, hugging and kissing the dog from the joy of being reunited.  Ninety percent of our job is anticipating what’s going to happen.  I had been in such a rush to get to the scene that I hadn’t put a memory card in my camera yet, and so had to fumble around in my pocket for one.  As I was closing the door to the card slot, the woman I was hoping for made her appearance from a neighboring apartment building.  “Oh Reeses, Reeses!!!” I could hear.  I had no time to format my card and just started shooting without knowing how many frames I had left.  It could be 4 or 400.  I didn’t know. Stressful. I clicked away as her son arrived and I backed up as they moved away from the burned out apartment.  This is when I made the picture.  It’s a clean frame with noone else around for distraction, and I was close enough to use a wide angle lens – something that’s unusual for spot news.  A small group of onlookers were gathering around us, and I continued to back up until my left leg stepped on – and fell through – a rotted out tree stump.  For about three uncomfortable seconds my leg was buried up to my thigh in a hole that felt like it didn’t have a bottom. I knew I had scraped my calf pretty good, but the adrenaline was pumping so it didn’t really matter. I managed to get myself up and thankfully was unnoticed by anyone else in all the commotion (I think?). By then the moment had passed, but I knew I had something good.

No injuries were reported.  Including mine.




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…




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.



Cam the ham…

…but I like the guy.  Some see his post-game over enthusiasm as cocky and pretentious, while others think he’s just an emotive kind of guy who loves his fans.  Maybe it’s a little of both, but all I know is I like the photo moments he gives up.  Who cares if he hams it up, the man knows how to give it up for the camera.  He’s expressive and smiling, and he does things that make our jobs easier – like run around the stadium high-fiving fans or spinning a towel around to acknowledge the crowd, on in the case of the SEC championship game, get carried off the field by his teammates like a scene from a movie.  These are all things photojournalists WISH would happen at every game, but they rarely do.  But then again, if they happened so often, they wouldn’t be so special and photographable (is that a word?).  So therein lies our quandary.

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is carried onto the field after defeating South Carolina in the SEC championship football game at the Georgia Dome, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010, in Atlanta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

I don’t know what it looked like on TV, but that’s one helluva scrum we were in.  I’ve never seen anything that pushy and I’ve covered my fair share of big games and star drivers that attract hoards of photographers and television cameramen.  I’m always surprised there’s not a photographer who gets trampled or loses an eye in these things.  The attitude you have to adopt is one of ‘go all in or don’t go at all.’  Total cluster.

But it’s fun.

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is carried onto the field after defeating South Carolina in the SEC championship football game at the Georgia Dome, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010, in Atlanta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff


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.