Golf Action

Gaston County Amateur Golf
2004 tournament champion Jonathan McDonald hits his ball out of a sand trap during the Gaston County Amateur Golf Championships at Gaston Municipal Golf Course on Saturday September 27, 2008.
David McMahan watches his ball during a round in the Gaston County Amateur Golf tournament on Saturday.

Fighting for gas in Belmont

Waiting for gas in Belmont
A motorist who would not give her name waits in line to get gas at Dale's Bait and Tackle in Belmont on Thursday September 25. Many motorists had been in line at this station for almost an hour, and with the owner of the station predicting that his gas would run out soon, many in line were unsure whether they would be able to purchase gas at all. Below: Just part of the line of cars at Dale's Bait and Tackle that spilled out several hundred yards in both directions.

People were literally fighting for gasoline in Belmont today. Police responded to the Petro Express at HW 74 and N. Main Street around 5:00pm after a fist fight broke out between two motorists waiting to buy gas.

According to Sargent Spry of the Belmont PD, police don't want to ration fuel or restrict access, but when people are fighting in the street and lines are causing traffic backups they have to step in to maintain order. Police were forced to turn motorists away in an effort to ease congestion, and asked that drivers who were not in immediate danger or running out leave.

Within fifteen minutes of arriving, the police had eliminated the traffic congestion, but many were still Left waiting. Several drivers had been in line for over an hour and a half, but some made it to the front of the line only to find station employees putting plastic bags over empty pumps.

The store manager, who declined to give his name, stated that the station had been receiving shipments of gas each morning, but high demand has lead to dry pumps each day this week by about 5:00pm.

Just a few miles down the road, a similar scene was playing out at Dale's Bait and Tackle on HW 74 and Catawba Street where lines stretched several hundred yards down both roads.

While the lines were long, they were moving, and the police never had to be called to this station. The station owner, who would only give his name as Dale, stated that he had been directing traffic all day and keeping the lines moving smoothly.

Dale estimated that he would run out of gasoline later this evening, and wasn't sure when he would get more. When asked if he would ration gas, Dale said no.

With stations running out of gasoline across the region there are many anxious motorists tonight. NC Governor Mike Easley assured the state that more gas was on the way, but with little or no idea when we can expect to see stability in supply, many are still unsure how they will fuel up in coming days.

Right: Dale, owner of Dale's Bait and Tackle, watches the pumps at his station on Highway 74 in Belmont on Thursday.

Obama returns to Charlotte (Barack this time)

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) brought his message of change to Charlotte Sunday, where he spoke to a crowd of over 20,000 people gathered in the streets of uptown.

In a location in front of the Charlotte Federal Building seemingly chosen more for security reasons than for viewablility, Obama attacked John McCain and the economic policies McCain shares with President Bush and denounced the republicans for trying to market themselves as agents of change.

Obama had scheduled a visit to the queen city in July, but was forced to cancel when his chartered plane was forced to make an emergency landing with mechanical issues. Since July, the traditionaly republican North Carolina has become a legitimate battleground state where polls indicate the vote could go either way--a fact that hasn't slipped past the Obama Campaign.

This week alone has seen three visits from the campaign. One week ago on Sunday Sep. 14 Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke in Charlotte and Michelle Obama hosted a roundtable discussion on women's issues on Thursday just blocks away from where her husband spoke yesterday.

With less than two months until election day, it is expected that the Obama Campaign will be visiting North Carolina again next month. At this time the McCain campaign has not announced any plans to to appear in the state.

View more photos from the event at

Rockets on wheels

Pro Stock- Greg Anderson
Charlotte native Greg Anderson, above, gets a little sideways as he performs a burn out before his first qualifying run during the inaugural running of the NHRA Carolina Nationals at the new zMax Dragway in Concord on Sept. 12. Gary Scelzi, below, drives his nitro funny car in the first of two qualifying runs on Friday. Jerry Toliver, bottom, performs a burn out in his nitro funny car during the first of two qualifying rounds on Friday.

Funny car- Gary Scelzi

Funny car- Jerry Toliver

It's hard to describe the feeling of standing not 20 feet away from an 8,000 horsepower monster on wheels whizzing by at over 100 miles per hour.

Not that 100 miles per hour is all that fast for these cars--they'll be going over 330 mph by the end of the quarter-mile drag strip-- 100mph is about how fast they are traveling when they pass the end of the photographers area 200 feet from the start line (where I was standing).

The Gazette sent me out to the new zMax Dragway in Concord on Friday to get some shots of the action in the inaugural running of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Carolina Nationals drag race, and the experience was right on the knife edge between thrilling and chilling.

People can tell you these cars are loud, that they shake the ground like an earthquake, that they almost knock you off your feet when they go by, how they choke the air with nitromethane fumes and tire smoke... but none of that can prepare you for the experience of actually being there.

I suppose a description of the photo are is in order here; the drag strip consists of two lanes about 20 wide with a yellow line in between and a knee-high concrete wall on either side. On one side of the wall is a race car, on the other side is a bunch of photographers.

And when the green lights go on for the first nitro car you can tell which photographers have been to one of these events before. The nitro cars are unlike anything else on earth except maybe the space shuttle or a Saturn V rocket. They spew nitro fumes almost 100 feet into the air--and that's just when they're idling!

When the first nitro cars came to the line I looked through my camera ready to shoot, and then it happened. It wasn't the sound of a car engine as mere mortals know it, but instead the scream and roar of (seemingly) the Earth itself being torn asunder. In an instant the cars take a set, shoot out amber flames and shred the air around you into a dozen ninjas that kick you in the chest at the same time.

I ducked for cover while the NHRA staff photographer next to me just smirked at my awkward initiation to the sport.

During a break in the action I asked him if he thought it was safe standing this close to the action with nothing but that knee-high wall between us and an 8,000 horsepower death machine. No, he said, but in thirteen years of shooting the sport he's only seen three photographers get killed.


And this after one of the pro stock drivers got a little sideways and headed straight towards me a few minutes earlier. I wasn't in any real danger, but when a dragster gets out of control and gets pointed your way it gets your attention.

Fortunately, I kept my finger on the button and got this unique shot below.

Home of the Future

Home of the Future

Shelly Duncan is reflected in the energy-efficient oven in her new Cramerton home that was designed to incorporate many energy efficient technologies, including a full suite of efficient apliances in the kitchen.

Self Portraits

Self portrait

Some people take self portraiture to a fine art form. If you don't believe me, just check out some of the 365 Days stuff people are doing on flickr. Personally, I'm not narcissistic enough do take pictures of myself every day, and as a photographer I prefer to have better raw material to start with!

In any event, I have been doing some selfies lately, as a way to experiment with lighting equipment and techniques I seldom get to use. I had this idea of a bright background portrait with a snooted light on the face of the subject. I didn't want a completely white background or a completely silhouetted subject, but instead just enough detail to impart some texture.

I decided to take it a step further and light the background unevenly in an effort to create a sort of chiaroscuro effect contrasting light with dark (a style that I like and use frequently in portraits). With no models or athletes of the year around, I recruited the closest thing to an athlete I could find--namely me in my fencing whites.

These are the results. Not exactly what I wanted--largely due to space and lighting equipment limitations--but still the effect I was going for. Lighting is one flash aimed at the background from the lower right, and one tightly snooted flash high about 45 degrees to the left. aimed at my face.