Posts Tagged ‘photography

18
Mar
14

another 12 hours of sebring done

Sebring grows on me every year I travel down to that old airfield-turned-racetrack in central Florida. At first sight, the circuit is flat, gray and characterless. When fans start to arrive and camp, the backgrounds get cluttered with flags and campers. It’s usually oppressively hot and the cement slabs that used to be runways for WWII bombers only reflect the brightness and heat back up to your eyes and face.

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As I’ve noticed in my years covering the 12 Hours, Sebring is indeed a very picky place photographically, but at the same time when you get it right, you can get it epically right (weather permitting).

In fact, Rick Dole, an outstanding photographer who has been doing this longer than I’ve been alive (sorry Rick!), and I decided that of the 12 Hours, you really only need to cover 4 of them (start and last 3.5 hours) because the light and heat waves during the rest of the time makes for terrible photography.

I wouldn’t say I love the place just yet, but I don’t hate it as much as in 2003…

 

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As always, thanks for looking.

-RAE

21
Jun
13

Looking back at recent NASCAR work

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I feel like these blog posts are getting too few and too far between. Like I’m failing at promoting myself or something.  All I can say is that I’ve been very busy shooting for Getty, XPB and the Associated Press as well as my ‘day’ job as photo editor for Motorsport.com…and I have a three-year-old. That should cover it for any excuses I could get away with.

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May started off busy with Darlington NASCAR and continued with two straight weekends of Charlotte NASCAR (All-Star race and Coca Cola 600). Then it was on to Montréal for F1 (that will be a separate blog post) then on to Michigan for more NASCAR.

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There is a certain familiarity now with NASCAR, which is both good and bad. You can easily fall victim to the same ole’ thing and being safe, but you can also use that familiarity to challenge yourself and do something different. I’m probably guilty of doing both.

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Working with the Getty crew(s) who show up every weekend is pretty fantastic. It’s an opportunity to learn (you never stop the learning process, or the inspiration process for that matter). It’s also an opportunity to look at everyone’s take that day and say, well, once again we kicked ass. The standards are high and we strive to meet them.

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I enjoy finding moments during a race. Because, admittedly it can get a little boring at times. Coach Joe Gibbs was inadvertently working it during the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington (in deep south S.C.).

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Then there are the super rare moments when you can isolate a driver for a clean image.

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And scene-setters.

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Now I’m off to Pikes Peak on Monday for the hill climbing race. This will be my second time, and I’ll know what to expect, which should help. I’m both dreading and excited about the 3am call times (they practice every day from sun up to about 10am, because it’s a public road). The light is stunning at that time, and there’s something about being at that altitude (14,000 ft.) that changes things. Really looking forward to it.

Oh, and for the record the Coca Cola 600 is about 100 miles too long. Someone should look into that.

-RAE

http://www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

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

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

22
Mar
11

Sebring

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 Motorsport.com, 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.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

 

01
Feb
11

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.

-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