Panthers vs Buccaneers

Panthers vs Buccaneers Benn Touchdown catch
Tampa Bay wide receiver Arrelious Benn catches a pass pass in the end zone during the second quarter of the game against Carolina on Saturday December 24, 2011 at Bank of America Stadium. The pass was initially called incomplete, but on review was ruled a touchdown. 
Panthers vs Buccaneers Newton run
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton evades Tampa Bay defenders Quincy Black, left and Frank Okam during the first quarter. 
Panthers vs Buccaneers Williams run ALT
Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams breaks the tackle of Tampa Bay defender Ahmad Black during the second half. 


Only ashes
A family photo lies in the ashes of a mobile home on River Loop Road just outside Belmont that was destroyed by fire on Sunday December 11, 2011. Five people were seriously injured due to smoke inhalation. 

Solar is here!

Solar power is here
Freshly installed solar panels sit on the roof of the Gaston County building that houses the Gaston County Police Department and other services on Thursday December 1, 2011. 

I recently had the privilege of photographing what the owners claim is the largest photovoltaic installation on a government building in the Southeast.

NARENCO, a company that already has an installation on the roof of a local commercial building, the National Gypsum facility in Mount Holly, is installing 3,122 photovoltaic panels on the roof of a Gaston County building in Gastonia whose main tenant is the Gaston County Police Dept.

This installation is rated to produce 740 KW of power that will be sold to the local utility provider Duke Energy. That's enough to power over 250 average American homes.

It's a little more than a token gesture, but not quite enough to save the world.

Sustainable energy is being put onto the grid, which means less coal is being burned. That's a good thing for everyone. But this is a perfect example of how sustainable energy can be green in more ways than one.

The county is making money by leasing the roof to NARENCO, it isn't a ton of money, but it's money they wouldn't have had otherwise.

And this shining example of how sustainable energy can be a win financially for local government and business is right here in my hometown. The same hometown that is installing electric car charging stations at several of it's parking areas and implementing new recycling initiatives (or at least trying to, but that's another story).

It is, I think, a piece of the future. As the cost of traditional energy goes up and the cost to manufacture PV panels decreases there will only be more projects like this popping up on roofs of buildings everywhere, or perhaps even serving a dual role shading parking lots.

It's inconspicuous, clean, green, and profitable, and the public response has been, from what I've seen, overwhelmingly positive.

Best of 2011: Prep Football

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Prep football season came to a rather anticlimactic close for me a few weeks ago. Unlike previous years when it seems like I covered one or two teams extensively throughout the year, this year I was all over the place.

I saw a few good games (or first halves, anyway), got a few good pictures, but never felt really inspired. Maybe it's just that I'm in my fourth year of being a newspaper photographer and it's starting to feel like I've done it all before.

In any event, enjoy this slideshow of some of my best pictures from this past season.

ACC Championship

Clemson vs VT

I devoted a great deal of time during Saturday's ACC championship game to trying to find and get shots of one specific Clemson assistant coach that had local ties. He may or may not have actually been on the sidelines at any point during the game, but I did manage to get a few decent shots of game action.

And on another note, I dropped my stainless steel water bottle as I was getting out of my car (I had to park about five blocks away, just FYI), splitting it open at the bottom. Normaly they have free bottled water in the field media workroom (I've heard it referred to as the 'media lounge'), but today? All out.

So I had to ride the elevator up and down and all around, then walk half way around the concorse amid screaming fans just to pay $4 for a bottle of water.

At the end of the evening, I would say my day was better than the Hokies' but worse than the Tigers'.

Toy Run

Toy Run
Hundreds of motorcyclists ride East on Franklin Blvd. during the 25th Annual Gaston County Toy for Tots motorcycle ride on Sunday November 27, 2011.


Downtown Dino's

A few recent Hipstamatic photos of downtown Gastonia.

Lawyers Building

The votes are in

Out with the old and in with the new
Gastonia Mayor Jennie Stultz congratulates Mayor-elect John Bridgeman at Nick's Steak and Taphouse as election results begin to show a clear victory for Bridgeman on Tuesday November 8, 2011.
Election results
Jim Jones, from left, Mitchell Sanders, Titus Greene, Gastonia Mayor-elect John Bridgeman, Lisa Mobley and her brother Greg Mobley watch election results come in on a laptop at Nick's Steak and Taphouse.



Just a little fall color I found the other day.

The ruins of Alba Mill

Alba Mill ruins

I recently explored the ruins of Alba Mill in rural Gaston County north of Stanley, thanks to the tip of my colleague Leo Hohmann who makes it a hobby to find old abandoned historical treasure like this.

As best as I've been able to find out, this is an old paper mill, but the internet didn't offer much information.

In any event, it's been long abandoned and barely any of it is still standing. I thought it was a pretty cool place to explore and I'll probably return to take more pictures in the future.

Alba Mill ruins

Alba Mill ruins

Paranormal Investigators

Paranormal Investigators
The State Paranormal Investigations team poses for a photo with some of their gear at the historic Gaston County jailhouse in downtown Dallas on Sunday October 16, 2011. From left: Jeff Rielly, Drew Skinner, Sandra Handy, Dave Hodges and founder Chris Rushing.

I've never tried to flare my lens with a laser before, so I wasn't sure what would happen. I think it looks kinda cool and appropriate for the subject matter. I'm glad we got the flare right on one take though, that laser was burning my brain.

The Haunted Mill

Haunted Mill 1

Check out these terrifying scenes from The Haunted Mill in Belmont and get in the mood for Halloween.

Busy Keeper

Abbey vs Brevard
Brevard goalkeeper Crissy Moran leaps high but fails to stop a goal shot by Belmont Abbey's Carly Kensinger during the game at Belmont Abbey on Tuesday October 4, 2011. Below: Moran dives for the ball as Belmont Abbey's Ananda Gebreyesus prepares to take a shot. 
Abbey vs Brevard 2

Junkyard Dogs

Junkyard Dogs
I spotted these two mischievous, I almost want to say demented looking, dogs while taking pictures at a home where police ar investigating the deaths of a number of dogs found dead at a home on Mitchem Road near Ranlo on Thursday October 13, 2011.

OKI 2011

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Here are some Hipstamatic photos from my recent week of vacation on Oak Island and surrounding areas, including Southport and Wilmington. 

My goal was to shoot all week with only the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone 4, but I caved on the penultimate day of the trip and took a few sunset pictures (this one and this one) with my "real" camera. I'm weak, I guess.

Gaston remembers 9-11

We will never forget
Devin McKenney, left, lights a candle for fellow Community Fire Department firefighter Stephen Roberts at the 10th Annual We Will Never Forget ceremony in Stanley on Sunday September 11, 2011. Over 100 firefighters from 18 departments attended this year's event.
Police Memorial
Linda English Edwards points the the plaque for her father to her grandson Ayden Whitney, 6, at the new Gastonia Police Memorial following a joint 9-11 memorial and dedication ceremony in front of the Gastonia Police station on Sunday September 11, 2011. Edward's father, Officer James Edward 'Red' English, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1948 when she was 7 years old.


Lightning rips across the sky as fans leave the parking lot at South Point following the postponement of the football game against East Gaston due to weather on Friday September 2, 2011.

South Point Homicide

South Point Shooting

Trey Gercak consoles Allison McCall, right, and a Gaston County Police officer talks with McCall's mother as police investigate the death of McCall's sister, Christina McCall, in front of the home at 129 Midwood Lane near Belmont late Sunday August 28, 2011.

Christina McCall was reportedly ending her relationship with her boyfriend of three years,Franklin Janell White, when he shot and killed her in front of her home where she lived with her parents and teenage son.

White died later Monday morning in a shootout with York County Sheriff's officers who were attempting to arrest him on a warrant for first-degree murder.

Gazette Cup 2011

Gazette Cup Final 2011
Ashbrook's Dustin Ferris left, and Forestview's Dale Rauch head the ball during the Gazette Cup final at Poston Park on Saturday August 27, 2011. 

Gazette Cup Final 2011
Ashbrook's Ivan Lopez takes a spill as Forestview's Hunter Ballard gains control of the ball.
Gazette Cup Final 2011
Forestview goalkeeper Cole Poole catches the ball as Asbrook players, including Danny Cullum, left, charge the crease.
Gazette Cup Final 2011
Ashbrook's Gustavo Laverde, left, and Forestview's Boo Davis head the ball.
Gazette Cup Final 2011
Forestview players, including Boo Davis, from right, Brent Johnson and Dale Rauch celebrate after Rauch scored a goal against Ashbrook in overtime during the Gazette Cup final at Poston Park. The goal was the only point in the match.

Thumbs Up!

Thumbs up
Noah Conner, 4, gives a thumbs up as his mom Sara Conner takes pictures of him strapped into a UH-72 Lakota helicopter that landed outside Keeter Stadium during the American Legion Baseball World Series in Shelby on Sunday August 14, 2011.

Runner Up

Runner Up
Alexandria Freeman, from right, and Beth Smith celebrate after it was announced that Malyn Bailey was the 1st runner up, leaving Freeman and Smith to be crowned Miss Gaston County 2012 and Miss Gastonia 2012 respectively, during the Miss Gastonia Scholarship Pageant at Gaston College on Sunday August 7, 2011.

More Horseshoes?

Lucky Horseshoe
Cherryville Post 100 pitcher Adam Benfield poses with his lucky horseshoe in the dugout at Buck Fraley Field in Cherryville on Sunday July 31, 2011. Benfield found the horseshoe and now brings it to games and keeps in the bull pen for good luck.
Lucky Horseshoe

Horseshoe Aces


North Carolina Horseshoe Pitchers Association hall-of-fame member Dufay Pearson pitches in the George Poston Memorial Evening Horseshoe Tournament at George Poston Park on Saturday July 30, 2011. Below: Tim Carson lines up a shot.





Addison Lanham Memorial

Angie Allen, left, lights a candle for her daughter Leann Allen, 8, during a memorial for 2-year-old Addison Lanham in the parking lot of the Exxon station on Edgewood Road in Bessemer City on Saturday July 23, 2011.

Lanham was transported by ambulance from the adjacent America's Best Inn on Thursday and died at the hospital shortly thereafter from an untreated broken leg and sepsis (blood poisoning). The child's mother and registered sex offender boyfriend both face charges in the death.

'Roid Week 2011


With my iPhone I can now take pictures and not only see them instantly, but share them instantly. In the studio the LCD screen on my digital camera (or a separate monitor) provides the instant preview a Polaroid back once did for my predecessors.

Fact is, Polaroids are obsolete for nearly all consumer and professional uses. That doesn't make them any less fun to use, though.

In the right conditions, these cameras can still take surprisingly good pictures, but qualities that would normally be seen as undesirable, like light leaks, faded colors, and lens flare, are part of the charm of shooting with vintage cameras.

For me, Polaroid cameras are toys. It's nice to leave behind the weight (figuratively and literally) of professional digital cameras and the need to make technically good images and just go with the flow. 

You might get something cool out of a Polaroid or you might not, but there's something fun abou pulling, waiting and finally peeling the film apart to see what you got.

In an ironic twist, the internet has helped spawn a new cult following for Polaroids on sites like Flickr

In 2006, one group on Flickr started 'Roid Week, a loosely organized, annual, five-day celebration of all things Polaroid. This year, over 1,400 people contributed nearly 4,000 polaroid images to the group.

These are a few of my shots from my wanderings around town during 'Roid Week 2011. I did break the rules a little by making it a seven-day affair starting on a Wednesday, but being a Polaroid enthusiast has never been about being a conformist.

Loray Mill



William Partlow

William Partlow

This is William Partlow, a local basketball player soon to be inducted into the Gaston County Sports Hall of Fame. He told me he used to be a model when he was younger -- had an agent and everything.

I'm not normally a fan of smiles in posed portraits, but I think the photo above shows his personality pretty well, even if he was taking direction like a pro. The headshot below is a decidedly more serious treatment. I think they both work, but in different ways.

William Partlow

Artificial Portrait

Artificial Portrait

I think it's important for portrait photographers to occasionally remind themselves what it feels like to walk away from a shoot seeing doughnuts (from a ring flash).

So, as I was tooling around yesterday taking some self portraits I decided to make like Brad Trent and do what he calls an "artificial portrait" by pulling back to show the reality of the lighting being used to create the picture.

I usually find including your lights in the frame to be cliche, but Trent's portraits are about pulling back the curtain rather than than saying "Ooh, look at the cool gear that I have and you don't." He pulls it off.

As far as portraits go I've largely been influenced by the work of Dan Winters and Ben Baker, among others. I think my own style is somewhere in between the subtle but dramatic Winters and the high-contrast, almost surreal look of Trent, but for these pictures I went for the more contrasty look.

To do this right I should have pulled the camera back and included my ring flash in the shot too, but there was a wall right behind the camera position so I had to zoom out rather than back it up.

Also, I cut my feet off. Oops.

Below is the shot that I was originally going for (in my defense, I didn't have the best raw material to work with).

Swamp Gas

Extreme Runner

CJ Barnhart
Runner CJ Barnhart poses on top of Hidden Wall at Crowders Mountain State Park on Tuesday July 5, 2011. Barnhart runs the trails at Crowders to train for races involving obstacle courses like the recent Super Spartan 8-mile race in Winnsboro, SC where he took home a medal.