Posts Tagged ‘georgia

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

 

24
Nov
10

What are you thankful for?

Sgt. Everett Yeckley, second from right, looks back after escorting a tearful Latonya Holmes before the arrival of her husband, Sgt. David Holmes' body at Sandersville Airport, Wednesday, July 7, 2010, in Tennille, Ga.

As I sit in the Waynesboro McDonald’s trying to waste some time between assignments down here in Burke County, (whoever thinks this is a glamorous job need only spend a week with us out on the road to see that we photogs eat TERRIBLY – on the go and wherever we can, usually fast food), I’m tempted to talk about Thanksgiving a little, this the day before the big turkey day.

Last July, I wrote a quick note on my Facebook group about the work I was doing with fellow writer Adam Folk focusing on the Army’s casualty assistance program.  We covered for the daily paper, and I posted something here about it – and how the widow’s screams were quite haunting during her husband’s arrival on a chartered flight from Dover, Delaware in a casket draped with the American flag.  It finally ran on Veterans Day with photos I had been sitting on since the summer.  I’m glad they found a home in the paper and online, because these were very moving images from a very moving experience for all involved, including me.  As photographers we do our best to illustrate and document what is going on, but there are a few rare occasions where photos, video, nothing can really relate what it was really like.

Sgt. Everett Yeckley, right, and Master Sgt. Vincent Grissom, left, help Latonya Holmes to the funeral service for Sgt. David Holmes at New Birth Christian Ministries, Friday, July 9, 2010, in Tennille, Ga.

Sgt. Everett Yeckley, left, looks on as Latonya Holmes, second from left, is consoled by Master Sgt. Vincent Grissom, as the body of Sgt. David Holmes is prepared to leave New Birth Christian Ministries after funeral services, Friday, July 9, 2010, in Tennille, Ga.

It is stories like these that make me thankful for what I have.  It’s the story of the husband who dedicates his life to the caregiving of his aging wife suffering from Alzheimers as she slowly loses the memories that effectively makes up their 38-year marriage.  It’s the story of a grieving mother who has lost her son in an instant of senseless violence.  Or the man who sits on a curb while his small house and everything he owns burns inside. 

These are the moments that, when I see them, I take a quick pause to realize how lucky I am, and I’m grateful for it.  Yes it’s part of life – that amazing thing we call life – with it’s highs and its lows and the total unpredictable nature of…nature.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

Sgt. Everett Yeckley, right, holds Latonya Holmes' hand as he tries to comfort her during the arrival of Sgt. David Holmes' body at Sandersville Airport, Wednesday, July 7, 2010, in Tennille, Ga.

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

10
Oct
10

Georgia vs. Tennessee

Shooting college football is a lot of fun.  There’s action every play so there’s no excuse not to get a decent selection of images during an entire game.  The fans are rabid and as a result there is a lot more emotion involved in winning or losing a game, whether from the players or student section of even the diehard fans way up in section ZZ on the top deck.  It’s more convivial, something the NFL fails at for the most part, save for a few teams like the Packers or Saints.  I don’t know, there’s just something about college ball. 
So the Georgia Bulldogs kind of suck this year, I mean lets be honest.  But after beating major rival Tennessee with a convincing 41-14 score, the student section was celebrating like they’d just won the national championship.  It’s because every game is a party.  Here are a few images from Saturday. 

Georgia head coach Mark Richt acknowledges the student section after defeating Tennessee 41-14 at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010, in Athens, Ga.

Georgia's Washaun Ealey goes airborne against Tennessee during the first half of their football game at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010, in Athens, Ga.

Georgia's A.J. Green scores a touchdown during the first half of their football game against Tennessee at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010, in Athens, Ga.

Georgia's Caleb King is tackled by several Tennessee players during the second half of their football game at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010, in Athens, Ga.

Georgia's Justin Houston celebrates after sacking Tennessee's quarterback during the second half of their football game at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010, in Athens, Ga.

 

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

16
Jul
10

Fallen Hero

Honor guard pallbearers carry the casket containing Sgt. David Holmes's body to New Birth Christian Ministries, Wednesday, July 7, 2010, in Tennille, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Reporter Adam Folk and I are working on a long term project about the Army Casualty Assistance program at Ft. Gordon.  Active duty military are selected to be part of a group called to support grieving family members of fallen soldiers.  On June 26th, 2010, Sgt. David Holmes was killed in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device.  A few days later we were notified of the death and that a CAO (Casualty Assitance Officer) had been assigned to Holmes’s widow, who lives in Tennille, Ga.  As a result, I drove down there twice last week to photograph the CAO doing his duty as best he could as he held the grieving wife’s hand along the way.

It was difficult for those in attendance on Wednesday for Sgt. Holmes’s arrival from Dover, Delaware (over 100 military, Patriot Guard, friends, family and total strangers holding small flags).  Mrs. Holmes was inconsolable and on several occasions had to be helped as she screamed David’s name and “why,” everytime she was near the American flag-draped casket.  The pain of being reunited with her husband under the worst circumstances could be heard by us all but never fully felt by anyone but Mrs. Holmes. For nearly 10 minutes, she screamed from the limo.  She couldn’t get out of the car.  Military personnel held their salutes and the Patriot Guard remained as still as possible as their flags waved.  Entire families remained motionless as they looked on.  Some cried.  Sniffles could be heard. The realities of war had hit home.  It was by far one of the hardest things for me to witness and photograph.

But throughout the short arrival ceremony, in which the Honor Guard pallbearers carried the casket from the plane to the hearse to be transported to the church, there was an air of absolute and undeniable solidarity felt with Sgt. Holmes and indeed with Mrs. Holmes.  And as I drove behind the motorcade headed for the church in Tennille, people lined the four-lane highway, some with large American flags, some with their hands over their hearts.  Ex-military saluted the hearse standing tall and proud.  It was like they had been waiting for us all afternoon.  McDonalds workers stood in front of the store in solidarity.  Even a local oil changing place had taken pause, with mechanics removing their hats.  Cars coming from the other direction not only stopped but many drivers got out to stand as the hearse drove by.

An entire town had come to a halt to honor a fallen hero.  Some didn’t even know him, but that didn’t matter.

You could call it a rural thing, a Southern thing or an American thing.  I call it a wonderful thing.

A small gallery from Sgt. Holmes’s arrival:

http://chronicle.augusta.com/multimedia/2010-07-07/photo-gallery-fallen-…

Note:  Unfortunately, I can’t post most of the photos yet because it’s still a work in progress.  But it’s a story worth telling.  And waiting for.  Stay tuned.

-RAE

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