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Urban Oasis along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway

Photography of a woman running along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Charlotte NC.

Charlotte’s newest park opened recently along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. The park, called Midtown Park, is an impressive project that is worth a visit. Charlotte’s Little Sugar Creek Greenway is a public area of more than 19 miles of trails and land connectors. The greenway was designed to interconnect neighborhoods, landmarks and public spaces in order to increase the Queen City’s pedestrian-oriented activities.

Photo of Midtown Park along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

Midtown Park, located next to the Metropolitan mixed-use development, was once home to a gas station. Today the park uses stone, artwork and other natural materials to bring new energy and life to the area.

Photo: Midtown Park and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway is popular with residents and downtown workers seeking exercise.

Midtown Park and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway is popular with residents and downtown workers seeking exercise.

Photo: A gleaming sphere, installed in April 2012, was designed to bring enjoyment of visual art to the sight-impaired. Artists Po Shu Wang and Louise Bertelsen blended Braille embossed dots with modified music box readers to create multi-dimensional pieces.

A gleaming sphere, installed in April 2012, was designed to bring enjoyment of visual art to the sight-impaired. Artists Po Shu Wang and Louise Bertelsen blended Braille embossed dots with modified music box readers to create multi-dimensional pieces.

Photo: public art in the Midtown Park.

Photo: A biker weaves through the winding pathways of Midtown Park.

A biker weaves through the winding pathways of Midtown Park.

Photo: Lunch-time exercisers run through along the greenway at Midtown Park.

Lunch-time exercisers run through along the greenway at Midtown Park.

Photo: The greenway provides such environmental benefits as stream buffering, wildlife habitats and flood control.

The greenway provides such environmental benefits as stream buffering, wildlife habitats and flood control.

Photo: The greenway provides such environmental benefits as stream buffering, wildlife habitats and flood control.

Photography along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near uptown Charlotte NC

Photography along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near uptown Charlotte NC

A stone archway frames the uptown Charlotte skyline in the background.

Charlotte NC lifestyle photography stock imagery of Charlotte NC

A couple steals a moment together at a table in Midtown Park.

Photography along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near uptown Charlotte NC

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Boy Scout Encampment at McGuire Nuclear Station

Boy Scouts from across North Carolina turned out for the 24th annual Duke Energy Merit Badge Encampment, held May 11-12, 2012 at the McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville. The two-day event gives Boy Scouts the chance to earn merit badges in such subjects as nuclear energy, environmental sciences and chemistry. Several boys in Troop 10 attended the encampment (I’m a volunteer leader at Troop 10, based at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Cornelius, NC). Because I was there as a leader, I took the opportunity to photograph the event while the boys were in classes. Several times a year I take photos for Boy’s Life Magazine and Scouting Magazine. Who knows, maybe the editors will be interested in a few of these.

Photo: Boy Scouts with Troop 10 execute the flag ceremony before sessions began on Saturday morning.

Boy Scouts with Troop 10 execute the flag ceremony before sessions began on Saturday morning.

Photo: Boy Scouts holding an American flag at the start of a flag ceremony during a BSA event.

Photo of Boy Scouts during a flag raising ceremony.

Photo: The Duke Encampment included camping along the shores of Lake Norman. Duke's McGuire Nuclear Energy Station is visible behind the tents.

The Duke Encampment included camping along the shores of Lake Norman. Duke’s McGuire Nuclear Energy Station is visible behind the tents.

Photo: Boy Scouts participate in laboratory work and classroom learning while earning a merit badge.

Boy Scouts participate in laboratory work and classroom learning while earning a merit badge.

Photo: Boy Scouts participate in laboratory work and classroom learning while earning a merit badge.

Photo: Boy Scouts participate in laboratory work and classroom learning while earning a merit badge.

Photo: Duke Energy employees lead the sessions to ensure the Boy Scouts are receiving real-world experience and accurate information.

Duke Energy employees lead the sessions to ensure the Boy Scouts are receiving real-world experience and accurate information.

Duke Energy employees lead the sessions to ensure the Boy Scouts are receiving real-world experience and accurate information.

Photo: Scouts practice their First Aid skills as they earn the BSA First Aid merit badge. The First Aid merit badge is required for any Scout working to earn his Eagle badge.

Scouts practice their First Aid skills as they earn the BSA First Aid merit badge. The First Aid merit badge is required for any Scout working to earn his Eagle badge.

Photo: Scouts carry an

Scouts carry an “injury victim” while practicing their First Aid skills.
Photo: Boy Scouts work on their first aid merit badge.
Photo: Boy Scouts earn their first aid merit badge.
Scouts interested in attending the 2013 Duke Energy Merit Badge Encampment should contact the Duke Energy Explorium at 980-875-5600.

Cultural can’t miss: Charlotte Shakespeare Festival

Photography of outdoor theater in uptown Charlotte NC

The 2012 Charlotte Shakespeare Festival is up and running until June 17 outdoors at The Green uptown. As the photos show, it’s a can’t-miss cultural event in the heart of the center city. Plus it’s free.It may also be the regions only free performing arts festival.

The Fish Fountain in The Green urban park uptown became part of the performance.

Shakespeare fans crowded in on lawn chairs and blankets to experience the romance and comedy of William Shakespeare and the acting talent of Charlotte Shakespeare, a professional theatre company offering intimate performances of the traditional and modern classics.

Photo of crowds attending the 2012 Charlotte Shakespeare Festival, held in The Green urban park in uptown Charlotte NC.

The non-profit performance company was formed in 2005 by Elise Wilkinson and Joe Copley under the name Collaborative Arts Theatre. This year the name changed to Charlotte Shakespeare.

Members of the Charlotte Shakespeare festival performing The Tempest in uptown Charlotte NC.

The 2012 production featured The Tempest.

Photography of the Charlotte Shakespeare festival performing The Tempest in uptown Charlotte NC.

Photo of The Green park in uptown Charlotte NC during the 2012 Charlotte Shakespeare Festival.

Photo of The Green park in uptown Charlotte NC during the 2012 Charlotte Shakespeare Festival.

Members of the Charlotte Shakespeare festival performing The Tempest in uptown Charlotte NC.

Elise Wilkinson is the executive/artistic director and Joe Copley is the managing director of the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival.

Charlotte The Center of the Known World statue on The Green park in uptown Charlotte NC.

Countless pieces of public art throughout The Green make an interesting backdrop to the performance. Image above shows the Charlotte signpost artwork (called “Charlotte — Center of the Known World) by Gary Sweeney, a contemporary artist from San Antonio.

Photo of The Green park in uptown Charlotte NC during the 2012 Charlotte Shakespeare Festival.

Learn more about the Charlotte Shakespeare Company and the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival at Collaborative Arts online.

Wide angle photo of The Green urban park in center city. Many visitors find it hard to believe The Green is actually the top floor of a parking garage.

The Green has become an iconic area of Charlotte and the Levine Avenue of the Arts. Walking through the tiered gardens, it’s hard to believe the center city park is actually the top floor to a parking garage. It’s a not-so-secret pocket park that makes up that long list of features making Charlotte so interesting.

The Ratcliffe Condos flank The Green, a pocket park in uptown Charlotte that is home to many pieces of public art, including The Fish Fountain shown in this photo.

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.