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Coca-Cola 600 on-track and off-track excitement

Few cautions, great weather and no big-bang crashes speed up NASCAR’s longest race

Photo: Lowe's Team 48 pit crew work quickly to get driver Jimmie Johnson back in the race.

In the 15 years I’ve been photographing Charlotte, I’ve captured on-track action during dozens of NASCAR races at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, located northeast of Charlotte in Concord, NC. Often I’m hired to photograph the behind-the-scenes actions of a specific team or the sports marketing efforts of a corporate client. This time, I set out to help the Charlotte Chamber document race day at the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race sanctioned by NASCAR. Here are some of the favorite images I came up with.

Photo of the new Coca-Cola 600 race logo during the 2012 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway got a new logo. The logo used during the 2011 race can be seen in the image below:

Photo of the previous Coca-Cola 600 race logo. Photo is from the 2012 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Held on Memorial Day weekend each year, the Coca-Cola 600 race always includes tributes to the United States military.

Photo: A paratrooper parachutes into the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a race held over Memorial Day weekend 2012.

photo: Members of the United States Marine Band wait to perform during opening ceremonies. The Marine Corp Band is one of the oldest US military bands, as well as one of the oldest professional musical organizations in the country.

Members of the United States Marine Band wait to perform during opening ceremonies. The Marine Corp Band is one of the oldest US military bands, as well as one of the oldest professional musical organizations in the country.
 

Photo: NASCAR race cars sit lined on the track for the start of the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR race cars sit lined on the track for the start of the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Photo of GoDaddy.com team driver Danica Patrick during opening ceremonies.

GoDaddy.com team driver Danica Patrick during opening ceremonies.

Photo: Colorful Coca-Cola 600 flags line the entrance to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the May 27, 2012 race.

Colorful Coca-Cola 600 flags line the entrance to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the May 27, 2012 race.

Photo: Colorful Coca-Cola 600 flags line the entrance to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the May 27, 2012 race.

Photo: Race fans capture a good view from atop a customized bus.

Race fans capture a good view from atop a customized bus.

Photo of country music star Tim McGraw taken at the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.

Country music star Tim McGraw attended the race.

Photo of Lowe's Team 48 driver Jimmie Johnson and wife Chandra during opening ceremonies.
Lowe’s Team 48 driver Jimmie Johnson and wife Chandra during opening ceremonies.

 

Photo of NASCAR fans in packed stands with NASCAR stock cars on the track.

NASCAR fans rally on the racers from packed stands.

 

Photo: GoDaddy.com pit crew members work to get driver Danica Patrick back on the track during a pit stop.

GoDaddy.com pit crew members work to get driver Danica Patrick back on the track during a pit stop.

 

Photo: Thousands of NASCAR fans at the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race show how popular stock car racing continues to be in Charlotte.

Thousands of NASCAR fans at the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 race show how popular stock car racing continues to be in Charlotte.

 

Photo: A fan goes all out in his enthusiasm for NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.

A fan goes all out in his enthusiasm for NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.

 

Photo: A street performer entertains the crowds outside the speedway.

A street performer entertains the crowds outside the speedway.

 

Helicopter rescue training on Lake Norman

On location with aquatic rescue teams

Close-up photo of an aquatic rescue team member during a training exercise on Lake Norman, north of Charlotte, NC.

Members of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) refresh their skills during training exercises in May 2012 on Lake Norman. More than 60 National Guards troops, first responders and emergency management officials from across the state spent four days practicing rescuing survivors in various lake conditions.

Photography of aquatic rescue team members being lifted from Lake Norman during training exercises in May 2012.

NCHART combines the expertise of local rescue technicians with the training, maintenance and capabilities of the N.C. National Guard and the N.C. Highway Patrol Aviation units. The NCHART program became the first of its kind in the nation to implement a regimented training and response program that combines the best civilian rescuers with military aviation assets. HART teams were used extensively following hurricanes Frances and Ivan in 2004 to rescue an estimated 350 residents from fast moving water and areas isolated when landslides cut off roads and escape routes. Since then, the teams also have rescued numerous stranded or injured hikers from remote mountainous regions..Participating agencies: N.C. Emergency Management; N.C. National Guard; Lincoln County Emergency Management; Lincoln County Sheriffs Office; Fire Departments from Denver, East Lincoln, Sherrills Ford-Terrell, Mooresville, South Fork, Union, Asheville and Charlotte; Lincoln County EMS; Lincoln County Water Rescue Team; N.C. Wildlife; US Coast Guard Auxillary; Gaston EMS; Lincoln and Cleveland county Local Incident Management Teams; and North Carolina All-Hazards Incident Management Team.

On location photography in Charlotte NC of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises.

Photos created on location in Charlotte NC of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises.

On location photography in Charlotte NC of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises.

Photos of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises.

Photography taken in Charlotte NC of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises.

North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) during training exercises held on Lake Norman, north of Charlotte, NC.

Charlotte Dragon Boat Race and Asian Festival

Teams of Charlotte dragon boat racers steady their boats at the starting line.

On your mark… Get set… ROW!

Thousands of spectators poured out May 5 for the annual Charlotte Asian Festival and Dragon Boat Races, held on Lake Norman at Ramsey Creek Park. Organized by the Carolinas Asian-American Chamber of Commerce (CAACC), Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation and the Charlotte Dragon Boat Association, the annual event celebrates Asian culture and traditions locally.

Dragon Boat racers paddle toward the end of the 500-meter course.

I’ve photographed the event a few times in previous years. What caught my attention this year were the number of corporations participating as a team-building exercise for employees. I believe two boats were powered by cancer survivors. Elsewhere in the park, Asian performers danced, sang and entertained the crowds.

Asian dancers in colorful costumes perform during the annual Charlotte Asian Festival held in Ramsey Creek Huntersville.

Dragon Boat racing is an important part of Chinese tradition. Originating more than 2,300 years ago in southern China, races now take place in communities around the globe. The Lake Norman races began in 2006.

An onboard drummer helps dragon boat competitors paddle in sync along Lake Norman.

Athletes paddle in sync to a rhythm pounded by an onboard drummer. The competing teams try to power their 40-foot-long canoe-shaped vessels across the finish line first.

Photo of the colorful face of a dragon boat ready to race in the Charlotte Dragon Boat races on Lake Norman.

Both the race and on-stage festivities make the community event a must-see activity. The event is also fun to photograph. The colorful costumes and brightly painted boats make nice photos.

A young performer fiddles with her costume before going on stage at the Charlotte Asian Festival 2012 event.

A young performer fiddles with her costume before going on stage at the Charlotte Asian Festival 2012 event.

Dragon Boat racers in the 2012 Charlotte Dragon Boat Races.

Teams power their dragon boats toward the starting line during the 2012 Dragon Boat Races in Charlotte NC.

The head of a dragon boat with competitors walking along the dock behind.

A young boy plays on the shoreline of Lake Norman during the 2012 Charlotte Dragon Boat Races.

I couldn’t resist taking this photo of a young boy playing on the shoreline of Lake Norman while a dragon boat floats by on the water.

Two Asian dancers perform on stage at the 2012 Charlotte Asian Festival, held May 5, 2012 in Ramsey Creek State Park in Huntersville, NC.

Hats, Horses and Hounds mark 2012 Queen’s Cup Steeplechase

Photo of boys thoroughbred horses clearing a jump and water feature at the 2012 Charlotte Queen's Cup Steeplechase.

There are horse races, and there are dog shows, and there are fancy-hat gatherings. And then there’s the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase, which has more than a bit of it all. The annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase took place earlier this month just down the road in Mineral Springs, NC.
Photo of boy with a brimmed hat decorated for the Queen's Cup horse race event.

An estimated 13,000 people came to the event, which is organized by the Charlotte Steeplechase Association Inc., a non-profit managed by Bill and Carrington Price. Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina was the beneficiary of the 2012 event.

The day-long festivities included a bit of everything, including people watching (or should that be hat watching), food, friends, Jack Russell Terrier races, and of course, the horses.

Photo of crazy hat shaped like a horse at the Queen's Cup Steeplechase event near Charlotte.

If you didn’t make it to this year’s event, here is a taste of what took place. The 2013 Queen’s Cup Steeplechase event is already scheduled, for April 27, 2013.

Photo of fox and hound riders.

Event photography from Queen's Cup Steeplechase event.

Photography of steeplechase horses clearing hurdle and water jump.

Photo of girl sharing a moment with her horse.

Horses racing on a grass course at Steeplechase.

Photo of woman wearing colorful hat at Charlotte Queen's Cup event.

Photo Charlotte Hunt Club.

Photo of a rider participating in the Queen's Cup Steeplechase near Charlotte NC.

Places to see: Charlotte 7th Street Public Market

As first glance, Charlotte’s 7th Street Public Market looks like any other farmer’s market offering locally grown food. Then one notices the bakery confections, and the coffee bar and the market’s many other offerings that make it so much more.

Still in its infancy after just opening in December 2011, the market is intended to be a business incubator where food entrepreneurs and culinary artisans can set up shop and hope their offerings take root.

It’s definitely worth a visit. Here are just a few of the images we created while checking out the market earlier this month. Even though the market, located at 224 E. 7th Street, isn’t in our daily stomping grounds, we’ll definitely stop by again as the harvest season hits full force. Enjoy the photos. The market was like visual eye candy and a photographer’s dream. Plus it’s yet another cool addition to the long list of cool things to see and do in Charlotte NC.

(Thanks to operations manager Jacqueline Venner Senske for being a model in the environmental portrait above.)

Coffee creations at the Not Just Coffee shop located in the market.

Ashlee Cuddy of Bond Street Wines was a good sport allowing me to create an environmental portrait of her also.

Peter Herr of Herr Fresh Flowers (above).

Michael LaVecchia of the Meat & Fish Co. has a clever business model with his delivery-by-bike service.

Erica Baez-Hortob is the food artist and owner of Cloud 9 Confections and Bakery.

Charlotte Taste of the Nation 2012: Great food – Great cause

More than 60 restaurants, chefs, mixologists and sponsors came together last week (April 11, 2012) to raise funds for and awareness of childhood hunger. Held at the Wells Fargo Atrium in uptown Charlotte, the annual event is a great chance to see — and taste — the culinary arts taking place around Charlotte.

Congratulations to the winners of the Best of Charlotte awards, sponsored by the American Culinary Federation.

Best Cold Dish:

– Amelie’s French Bakery – Peanut Butter Petit Four
– Fern Restaurant – Sweet Potato Meringue

Best Hot Dish:

– Enso Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar – Wagyu Taco
– Mimosa Grill – Benton’s County Ham Wrapped Shrimp

Best Table Display:

– Gallery at Ballantyne Hotel
– e2 emeril’s eatery

Moon over Duke Energy Tower in Charlotte NC

Full moon rising over Duke Energy Tower in Charlotte NC

Driving home from an evening photo assignment the other day, I had the good fortune of spotting the full moon rising over the Charlotte skyline. Taking a photo of just the moon by itself is never fun, so I zig-zagged through the city streets looking for a building to line it up with. The Duke Energy Tower made the perfect partner.

In 2009, I was able to photograph the full moon rising over Bank of America tower. This series shows the path of the moon around the tower that night. While I had happened upon the moon rising over the Duke Energy Tower the other day, I’d purposefully set out to photograph the moon against Bank of America tower after hearing meteorologists talking about how large the moon would seem that night.

Photo of full moon over Bank of America tower in Charlotte NC

Photo of full moon above Bank of America tower in Charlotte NC

Photo of Bank of America tower and full moon in Charlotte NC

It was very dramatic. We turned the photo into a postcard and it’s been one of our best sellers.

Photographing the moon against a skyline is challenging. Still, if you think through the likely path the moon will follow (I’ll often scout the path a few nights before the shoot), position yourself correctly, and then stay patient, you might be rewarded with a few good images. I can’t count the number of times I scouted the perfect location to capture the setting sun or a full moon rising against the Charlotte skyline (or a lighthouse, or interesting building), only to have a cloud float into place and kill the shot. Technology and PhotoShop could solve this dilemma, but I want my images to be real (with adjustments only for color saturation).

So if you happen to check out the links to my Charlotte skyline photos (below) and wonder about the vibrant colors of the sky in many of the images, yes, the sky really was brilliant pink or cobalt blue or Easter-egg purple on the days I took the photos. Often, during the 45 minutes or so as the sun sets (or rises) the color of the sky will transform itself many times, like in these photos, taken on December 15, 2010:

Charlotte skyline photo illustrating sky color transformation as sun sets over Charlotte NC

Charlotte skyline color transformation by sun

Setting sun transforms the color of the sky over Charlotte NC

Photo of Charlotte skyline changing vibrancy as sun sets

Charlotte NC skyline photo of sky color transformation at dusk

Photo: Charlotte NC skyline at dusk

Photography of Charlotte NC skyline after the sun as set.

The next image wasn’t from the photo shoot that night, but it shows what I’m talking about when the sky turns purple over Charlotte.

Purple sky over Charlotte NC skyline with Bank of America tower in photo

A few years ago, I set a goal of photographing the Charlotte skyline from every possible angle. I identified at least a dozen locations to shoot from, and have been knocking them off my list. Don’t the following images show how Charlotte has become one of the most-dynamic Southern cities?

This link goes to a gallery of my newest skyline images:

http://patrickschneider.photoshelter.com/gallery/Newest-Charlotte-Skyline-photos/G00002CaUiVTYOZM

A larger collection of skyline photos are housed in this gallery:

http://patrickschneider.photoshelter.com/gallery/Entire-Charlotte-skyline-collection/G0000W23wxERWbe4/

If you know of angles on the Charlotte skyline that I haven’t already taken photos from, please let me know. If I can make some nice photos from an angle you suggest, I’ll thank you with some prints of the photos I create.

And yes, if anyone is wondering, we do sell framed art of our images. We do the custom framing ourselves. Just call or email for information.

Finally, I’ll end this blog entry with some of my favorite Charlotte skyline images. I like how the sun turned the buildings gold for just a few minutes, completely transforming the look of downtown Charlotte. I took these photos in December 2011.

Photo of Duke Energy Tower in Charlotte NC at sunset.

Photo of Duke Energy Tower in Charlotte NC at sunset.

Photo of the Charlotte NC skyline during a brilliant / golden sunset.

Rock-like religion: Charlotte’s Elevation Church

Church goers of all ages are making Charlotte’s Elevation Church one of the fastest-growing churches in the United States. We stopped by recently to see what all the excitement was about. Excitement indeed.

Hearing the buzz about Elevation, I made arrangements to visit and photograph the Blakeney location. As the photos below show, it was a lot like attending a religious rock concert with a conservative theological message. This wasn’t like any church I’ve visited or photographed previously. These images are from a recent Friday night service.

According to the church’s website, Elevation Church began in 2006 in the atrium of Providence High School. About 121 people were in attendance that day. Today, the church has six locations around Charlotte; 10,000 people attend regularly.

Steven Furtick (above) is the energetic paster of Elevation Church.

Creatives: Get involved with Flashes of Hope

VIDEO:

Flashes of Hope multimedia video from Joshua Stilwell on Vimeo.

Several times each year, photographers and stylists volunteer their time and talents bringing bright moments to families and children battling with cancer. The cause: Flashes of Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating powerful, uplifting portraits of children fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. View the Flashes of Hope site.

I got involved with the Charlotte NC chapter several years ago, and it continues to be one of the most-rewarding ways I can give back. It’s so different from the corporate photography I’m usually doing. The Queen City is fortunate to have a large number of Charlotte photographers who volunteer their time for the cause. We’re aided by volunteer teams of stylists (hair stylists, makeup artists, etc.) and Charlotte organizer Kelly Patterson. I believe Flashes of Hope operates in about 40 cities right now, and it’s hoping to expand. So colleagues, please consider getting involved.

During our March 2012 Flashes of Hope photo shoot at Charlotte’s Presbyterian Hospital, multimedia photographer Josh Stilwell videoed the shoots and created the multimedia show that’s at the top of this blog. The goal is to help creatives and prospective donors understand the workings and benefits of Flashes of Hope so they’ll get involved and will help the program grow.

Enjoy Josh’s hard work and I hope you like some of the portraits I had the pleasure of being able to create during our most-recent photo shoot.

PHOTO SHOOT: Filmmaker George Cochran

It’s hard for a photographer not to be intimidated when sent to photograph a visual media giant. So I’ll admit I was a bit apprehensive when Our State magazine asked me to create some photographic portraits of Central Piedmont Community College professor George Cochran, founder of CPCC’s Film and Video program.

Read his bio for yourself from the CPCC site (http://sensoria.cpcc.edu/event/11/):

George M. Cochran has enjoyed a successful career in advertising, marketing, and visual media in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, working with agencies such as J. Walter Thompson, Young & Rubicam, Saatchi & Saatchi, and many others. He created and produced thousands of iconic images in commercial and as campaigns for Stouffer’s Food, Guerlain Perfume, Johnnie Walker Scotch, Max Factor, IBM, Mobile/Exxon, Sony and for 17 years, Miller Beer. Among his many awards are four Clio nominations, Art Director’s Awards, AIGA, for national commercials produced for Quaker Oats, Coors Beer, Betty Crocker, Jell-O, Wheaties, and National Child Help USA.

 Since moving to charlotte 10 years ago, he has consulted with large and small local companies, seeking communication strategies in print, TV, radio, and digital media through his company, Cochran Enterprises. By George’s own statement, his greatest accomplishment has been giving back, as founding director of the CPCC Film and Video Program. In this capacity, he finds an outlet, not just for his unique knowledge of the industry, but also for his belief in the importance of personal vision and artistic integrity through education. He is a board member of Channel 21 and created Image Tree for his Art of Production students as a conduit for their diverse productions ranging from a documentary on the Catawba River to their current documentary production of the ecological positives of the newly constructed Duke Energy Center, here in Charlotte. He is also a member of Ronnie Bryant’s Presidents Board of the Charlotte Regional Partnership.

 He is an alumnus of RIT; has lectured at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Fordham University’s Graduate School, and The Smithsonian Institute; and is contributing editor to the Focal Encyclopedia of Photography.

So do you blame me for heading into the shoot nervously? Turns out I shouldn’t have worried at all. Cochran not only was a great subject to photograph, he was a great conversationalist and really down to earth. His natural style and camera-friendly look made my job really easy.

Like the filmmaker shadow behind him in the photo at the top? I thought it would be a creative way to quickly show what Cochran does. That’s actually my assistant, Josh, posing to create the shadow for me.

Here are a few other images to show what we came up with for the magazine.

See what I mean about his great face? Eye candy for the camera.

CPCC filmmaking class in action (below)

See what I mean about being great fun?