Days Gone By: AL Gulf Coast From The Air

I’ve lived in Atlanta Ga for several years now, but once upon a time I lived on the island. I grew up on the Alabama Gulf Coast and love the area! Gulf Shores and Orange Beach really are special. Seeing it all from a different perspective by hopping a plan ride along the coast has to be on your to-do list. Either a small charter flight or for a really special adventure, flying in the open-air cockpit of an old biplane. The star complex is the Civil War fort on the east side of the mouth of Mobile bay called Fort Morgan.

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Days Gone By: The Blues

May 2nd, 2020 The Blue Angels and The Thunderbirds flew over Atlanta. Though I didn’t catch them this time, they are always an awesome sight to see!

I was fortunate enough to photograph the Thunderbirds during their flyover of Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.
During the offseason the Blues will practice their routine behind the Naval Museum at Pensacola NAS every Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ve seen them many times. This is always a special place to visit for me because my grandparents were laid to rest on base at Barrancas National Cemetery.

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Quarantine Contemplation: Days Gone By #start

We have been in self quarantine for six weeks. Of course we’ve been out of the house to walk the dog and to pick up groceries, etc. What we havn’t done has been the normal interactions with other people that use to be the norm. No handshakes, no hugging friends, no movie theater, no dinner out. The most troubling part of it has been, there is no end in site. The numbers in the US grow every day, by an increasingly alarming rate. As of today, April 27th, over 1 million cases have been identified.
As of today, April 27th, over 56,000 people have died.

One of the most difficult parts for me, being a creative, has been no media creation. No events, conferences, or conventions to film or photograph. Instead I’ve been on a digital spring cleaning. Straightening up old image galleries and content I’ve filmed. A LOT of it that’s never been shared.

So in contemplation during these crazy times, I’ve decided to start a series of posts reflecting on days gone by.

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Empty Atlanta ~ Covid-19

It’s now April of 2020. The world is an absolute sci-fi movie right now! I have no doubt this will go down in the history books for generations to see. There’s a lot of info more detailed than I could even articulate about the virus commonly known as the Corona Virus or COVID-19. But the general idea is that it is a novel (new) virus that we have zero immunity to. It started in Wuhan China and quickly spread to Italy where thousands of people died in a matter of weeks.

Originally it was said it only transmitted if you have the virus on your hands and then put your hands in your mouth, nose, eyes, etc. so washing your hands should keep you safe. Over the past month, I’ve read more and more articles stating the virus currently has 8 different strains, it can live on surfaces for days, and is now thought to be airborne. An early warning you may have it is if you lose your sense of taste or smell, and pink eye is believed to be another initial sign of you having it. The virus can live in someone for two weeks without ever showing a sign of symptoms, though we don’t know how true this 14 day period actually is. So we don’t know exactly who has it or doesn’t, there are not enough tests available to test everyone, and anyone can get it.

Current numbers as of April 3, 2020 at 3:45pm EST, the world has 1,087,308 cases of the virus and a reported 58,309 death. Though reports from China are saying the death rates are much higher. In just the US alone we have 270,062 cases (most cases anywhere in the world). The number of deaths are just shy of 7000 people, which 1000 of those deaths being from just yesterday. The next two weeks are downright scary to think about.
April 8th. USA Death toll = 14,668
April 11th. = 530,613 cases and 20,524 deaths in the US
April 14th = 586,941 cases and 23,640 deaths in the US
Worldwide just shy of 2 million cases and 120,000 deaths
April 17th = 710,272 cases and 37,175 deaths in the US.
April 24th = 890,198cases and 50,403 deaths in the US.

The only known current solution has been social distancing. Do NOT congregate together! All sports have been banned (NFL, MLB, NBA, PGA, etc). Atlanta was supposed to host the Final Four basketball this year. Even the Olympics have been pushed back to 2021 Everything’s been postponed or canceled and the collective world as a whole holds their breath to find out what’s going to happen!

We took a ride downtown yesterday, April 2nd, around noon. My wife drove and I shot from the passenger side, out the sunroof, or we’d just stop in the middle of the road for me to open the door. We made no stops at businesses, talked to no one, didn’t come within 50ft of anyone. Empty Atlanta is downright eerie to see.

We’ve been mostly on lockdown since March 16th here in Atlanta. One of us leaves at a time to get groceries and other needs. Otherwise we’ve been basically quarantined. A big question right now, in the south, is “Plague or Pollen”?? I saw a meme trying to bring a bit of humor to this dark situation that said “Covid hitting during allergy season. I don’t know if I have 5 days to live, or if I need to take a Claritin”. To give you an idea of pollen right now, here’s my jeep w/ pollen on it. 🙁

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The Old Bell Tower

A recent gig landed me in one of the oldest buildings in Atlanta. Agnes Scott College is a private women’s liberal arts college in Decatur, Georgia. Agnes Scott is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is considered one of the Seven Sisters of the South. The college was founded in 1889, in 1994 the campus was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and remains today a women’s college.

The first building on campus, Main Hall, was constructed in 1891. Over the years its had renovations and restorations. Now, nearly 130 years after its original construction, it’s about to receive another much needed modernization.

I was fortunate enough to be called in to help photograph and document the building in its current narrative. Some areas will be preserved as they are. There was an overwhelming feeling of “if these walls could talk”, which really resounded deep down the moment I stepped foot in the old bell tower. We found marks of affection by heartstrung college kids, students in the 60’s sharing a new idea of “make love, not war”, and signed names dating back to 1918! It’s absolutely wild to think of someone standing here over 100 years before us to add their mark.

My first reaction: WOW
My second reaction: “Don’t pull on the yellow rope, Chris!”

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Atlanta Secret Party… that we want everyone to know about!

Only a couple more weeks till this years Halloween party! But don’t worry, it wont interfere with your Oct 31st plans since this years party will be Oct 19th. Though you might want to catch a nap because it runs 10pm-5am. puts on an amazing evening of DJ’s (including one of the best dj’s in the business: DJNEMESIS), Go-Go dancing, fire, costume contest, and entertainment. 21+ with costumes mandatory. They put on a 4th of July party to test out the space at this old church. It was AMAZING! Watch the video below for an idea of the evening.

Check out their facebook event page for more info.

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Power Rangers! Ranger Stop & Pop in Atlanta

What a GREAT first year this was for Ranger Stop & Pop in Atlanta! We had several familiar Power Rangers faces and a few special guests from our childhoods including JEM (Samantha Newark) and Kel Mitchell.

Don’t forget to get your tickets for next years convention!

Follow them on Instagram: @rangerstopandpop
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Ranger Stop & Pop! Atlanta recap of this years convention.
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Sid Haig passes away

Sid is considered an icon of modern horror cinema. But I never knew him as his evil clown counterpart Captain Spaulding, I always knew him as Sid the lovable gentle human we all adored when we saw him at conventions.

” This man. He is the only celebrity I have waited in line for and purchased his autograph. Not only was he one of the nicest people at the convention, you could tell he really loves his fans. He didn’t charge for pictures with him and he only wanted $20 for his autograph ‘so I can make the money back for the printed pictures’.” ~Michele Sivard

Below was a photo I took at DragonCon 2019. Strange enough, only one set of eyes was looking up at me from the pool of people. Great cosplay of Sid’s Captain Spaulding.

DragonCon 2019. Atlanta Ga. Copyright: Chris Helton

Sid Haig passed away September 21st 2019 after a long life of entertainment. He worked on dozens of films and television shows throughout his career, including George Lucas’ “THX 1138,” “Point Blank,” “Beyond Atlantis,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” “Night of the Living Dead 3D” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown.” & “Kill Bill Vol. 2.” He can also be seen in “Spider Baby,” “Coffy,” “Foxy Brown,” “Gunsmoke,” “Get Smart,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “The A-Team.”

Sid Haig at Days Of The Days convention in Atlanta GA. Copyright: Chris Helton

“On Saturday, September 21, 2019, my light, my heart, my true love, my King, the other half of my soul, Sidney, passed from this realm on to the next,” Haig’s wife, Susan L. Oberg said. “He has returned to the Universe, a shining star in her heavens. He was my angel, my husband, my best friend and always will be. He adored his family, his friends and his fans. This came as a shock to all of us. “We, as a family, are asking that our privacy and time to mourn be respected. Sidney Eddie Mosesian. 7/14/39 – 9/21/19. Husband, Father, Grandfather, Friend. Goodnight, my love. We will find each other again, next time. I love you.” ~ Sid’s wife Susan

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A great evening with Matt Ryan

We had a fun evening photographing a private event at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. We spend a few hours hanging out at the SunTrust Club that’s on field level. Matt Ryan was the guest for the evening and talked about his time with the Atlanta Falcon, taking Q&A from the other guests.

A few of my favorite answers from Matt I’m sharing here. I’m sure I’m not quoting him directly since there were no recordings allowed, but the memories I have of the evening were:

Q: What is your cheat day, dinner out with your wife, kind of meal?
A: My wife is a really healthy eater, so she doesn’t really let me cheat. lol. But if I had my choice, probably a large Cheese Pizza and maybe a cold beer

Q: Whats something you notice to be a big difference from several years ago?
A: It might seem silly, but digital media. I remember having those giant cd binder cases full of dvd’s from each game that I’d go back to watch and study from. Now, I’m able to have my ipad loaded with videos and I can go back and watch just about anything.

Q: What’s your opinion of Tom Brady?
A: (Matt has a big smile on his face) Oh man, Tom Brady is a great guy. A few years ago when they beat us at the SuperBowl, that night his team is all out celebrating and I get a text from him saying something like “Keep your chin up. You done an amazing job today.” So even with everything going on, he took the time to still message me and be supportive.

I had the opportunity to meet Matt Ryan in Feb 2019 when Atlanta hosted the SuperBowl. Of course it was much more of a public setting and every ‘celebrity’ knows to keep up appearances. But this time around, even with a VIP event of 100 people and a post private gathering (more VIP? a VIP’er?) with a dozen people socializing he was still an incredible guy and very humble.

The last bit of wisdom I pulled from the evening from Matt Ryan was about achieving and sustaining goals. He said to always keep working hard for what you want, but you have to have down time. He said it was one of the best bit of advice someone gave him. He couldn’t be at practice every single day of the year and not expect to burn out.
Work hard at your goal, but take the time to take care of you.

This is the second time I was thiiiis close to a Matt Ryan autograph and still didn’t get one. Maybe next time 🙂 I’m still incredibly grateful for the opportunity to shakes his hand and chat with him a few minutes.

Matt Ryan signing a handful of footballs for VIP guests at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Photo Copyright: Chris Helton

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