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8 Easy Ways to Get Outside in 2017

A skateboarder rides down a long road towards the Grand Teton Mountains and the setting sun in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Here at Aurora, our resolution for 2017 is to get outside as much as possible. This year we’re embracing the outdoors and its opportunities for adventure, health and beauty. To help us (and you) do that, we came up with 8 ways to get into the outdoor spirit no matter where you live or how much (or little) time you have.

#1
Find an alternate way to the office. Take a zip line to work. You have one of those, right? If not, pick one day per week to walk, bike, skateboard, or skip to your job. If your commute makes that impossible, consider parking just a little farther away or hopping off public transport one stop early. Bonus points if you don’t chicken out when it’s raining  or 10 degrees outside. You can do it! We believe in you.

Woman laughing on patio during winter

#2
Set a timer to go off once or twice during your work day, to remind you to get up and go outside for 10 minutes. You don’t have to do anything special – just stand there and breathe for a bit. The trick here is to avoid hitting “snooze” on your reminders. Chances are, most things you’re working on can wait for 10 minutes or so, although don’t tell your boss that we said that.

Mother rows canoe in Kezar Lake while son tries to scoop up fish in his net

#3
Discover a fishing spot.​ Or maybe just discover a spot to sit and watch other people fish. For those with sporting tastes, the website takemefishing.org​ has a fishing and boating search engine to help you find new destinations. You can search by the type of fish you like to pursue, and if you decide to cross state lines you can even buy licenses.

Man running in urban park

#4
Find the parks and public lands around your state.​ The legendary outdoor company L.L. Bean has ​a ParkFinder tool on their website​ to help you in your search for places to #getoutside. You can discover everything from city parks and playgrounds to state and national parks. It even has an activity filter, which lets you search for the best birdwatching, bicycling, fishing (or fish-watching, see #3) or boating spots.

Trail Running

#5
Explore the rail trails and multi-use paths in your area.​ Just to be clear, multi-use doesn’t mean walking and texting. Multi-use trails are great for all sorts of outdoor recreation: running, biking, cross country skiing, or walks with friends (no need for texting). Many are just a few miles long, perfect for an hour of adventure, but others (like the ​Grand Allegheny Passage​ and ​C & O Towpath) can traverse states and run hundreds of miles. And unlike a sidewalk, these trails often avoid automobile traffic. Many of these trails exist as recreation paths thanks to the R​ails-to-Trails Conservancy,​ which keeps ​a searchable list of trails and paths​ that makes it easy to find nearby places to play.

Three man preparing themself to ride their mountain bikes (MTB) in the freshly snowed Swiss Alps near Kandersteg, Bern, Switzerland.

#6
Find a new bike route.​ Bicycling is one of those sports almost anyone can do, and you can find places to do it everywhere. Most states put out cycling maps to help riders find the best pavement, but if you’re looking for lots of maps in one place check out t​he Adventure Cycling Association’s route map store​. Not only might it give you new ideas for your home riding, but it also has what you need to plan a cross country ride or some other grand adventure. If a bicycle is too much of a challenge, the website adulttricyclespro.com has reviews and top picks of the best adult tricycles.

People shopping at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market

#7
Go to a farmers market once a week. It’s a great place to engage all your senses, enjoy your community, and force you out of the warm, dark hole that is your most recent Netflix binge. Stranger Things will still be there when you get home, and you might even score a tasty pint of artisinal gelato to enjoy in front of it. The USDA has a National Farmers Market Directory to find the one nearest you.

Adam Welch asleep on a picnic bench at Humbug Mountain State Park awakes the next morning to find the campground flooded.

#8
Get lost.​ Just go. Leave the web behind and head for the nearest park or woods. Be willing to turn your bicycle down an unfamiliar street. Every trail or fishing spot listed online is probably surrounded by five others no one has ever heard of. Those are the ones only the adventurous find. Be willing to go looking for them. It won’t always work out as you’d hoped, but that’s part of the fun. (Although we recommend keeping a cell phone or GPS device on hand, just in case.)

The Symphony of Ice

Peter Doucette, Lucifer in Chains M9 Cathederal Ledge, North Conway, NH
Lucifer in Chains M9 Cathedral Ledge, North Conway, NH

Five a.m. is early for a weekend alarm, but winter’s back. There’s too little daylight to waste it. The ice is in, the days are short, and the mountains are calling. Roll out of bed, pull on long underwear and fleece. Fill a water bottle, grab the already packed backpack by the door and go.
The warm car is the final bastion of heat. Don’t waste it. Don’t open the door a moment too soon, even if it means tying your boots hunched over the steering wheel. Soak in the final few warm minutes. They are precious. Once in the landscape it’s the sounds you notice: the crunch of the snow underfoot, the wind as it whistles through the trees, the rustle of nylon rubbing nylon. The hike is the warm up stretch before the fight begins. It’s a moment to look at the mountains, the snow, the trees and wilderness before the landscape rears to blanket your view.
The final walk below the ice is always a nervous one. The columns have a way of dwarfing and dampening, reminding you of how small you are. But in that frozen space the sounds continue—the zip of extra layers, the clink of carabiners and ice screws, the hiss of rope running through gloves—and are amplified by the cold.
Then it’s time. Tink! Tink! Sink a tool. Tink! Tink! Sink the other. Thunk! A boot. Thunk! The other boot. Ice climbing, the frozen symphony, has begun. The whir of ice screws cutting into the depth, the tap of the belayer dancing to stay warm, the drumbeat of falling ice. The movement becomes its own language, emerges in the winter quiet, echos through the canyons and reverberates through the ice. It is a landscape without heat but full of songs. Climb higher, into the breeze and creek of swaying trees. The scrape of steel mingles with the sounds of the forest. The hush of the falling snow only leaves the chorus ringing louder. The noise of belayers, other climbers, the human race and the world as a whole fades. Only you are left. You and the mountain. And you hear each other.

For great ice climbing photography visit AuroraPhotos.com

Aurora Introduces Premium RF

premiumRFforblog

Aurora Photos, an independent stock photography archive focused on providing the best imagery in the categories of active lifestyle, outdoor adventure, nature’s beauty, and remote travel, is excited to announce Aurora’s Premium RF, a new royalty-free collection of stock photography, curated for quality and presented for licensing with simplified, 2-tier pricing.

There are two prices available for end users to choose from: A highest resolution 50+ mb image for $500, or a smaller 3 mb size that is priced at $250. The curated collection gives image buyers looking for superior outdoor and active lifestyle images a collection of some of the best available in the marketplace, ready to be licensed simply.

Aurora’s Premium Collection establishes a quality bar that lives up to the name “Premium.”

“The word ‘premium’ is definitely over-used and misused in our industry as a description of images and collections,” explains Aurora founder and CEO José Azel. “We want to reclaim a truer definition of the word. A definition that relies on the highest standards and achieved through curation, something that Aurora has always stood for.”

“Quality must fetch a higher price.” Azel continues, “You should expect to pay more for something that is truly quality. Setting a minimum price for this collection is a great way to define the quality and cost equation. In addition, having two simple and reasonable prices creates a cost ceiling that appeals to image buyers and a minimum price that appeals to image creators.”

This exclusive collection is curated from new images, as well as images from existing Aurora rights managed and royalty free collections, and from both recent and long-established contributing photographers.

“This collection is bringing established photographers back to stock photography, making images available to clients that might otherwise never be available for licensing,” says Aurora’s Director Karl Schatz. “It’s exciting for us to see photographers so enthusiastic about getting new images into Aurora and Premium RF.”

Clients offered a sneak peak at the collection like what they see. Josh Lewis of Momentum Interactive in Aspen, Colorado says, “The photos are amazing, and I love the super simple pricing. I will definitely keep the Premium RF Collection at the top of my list for future projects.”

For more information about Aurora Photos Premium RF collection visit: http://premiumrf.auroraphotos.com

or contact:
sales@auroraphotos.com
207.828.8787 x300

Patrick Orton Live Your Dreams Scholarship Fund

A young adult backpacker in Colorado.

In July 2013, Aurora and the whole photographic community lost a talented and rising young photographer, Patrick Orton. At age 25, he was already a prolific shooter, capturing exciting and authentic images of outdoor adventure and lifestyle around his home base of Sagle, Idaho. Patrick embraced life to it’s fullest. It shows in his photography and is reflected in the faces and actions of those he photographed. Patrick was living his his dream as a photographer.

In his memory, Patrick’s family has established the Patrick Orton Live Your Dreams Scholarship Fund, which is an incorporated 501 c3 in the State of Idaho. The scholarship fund will help a new generation of young people from Idaho to listen to their hearts and follow their dreams, specifically through furthering their education.

Patrick’s family writes, “Patrick was the recipient of several scholarships in his senior year at Sandpoint High. These funds assisted him in his photography education and in the pursuit of his dreams. Patrick was a strong believer that one should give back as well as receive. He mentored a number of younger photographers and helped many people discover and pursue their dreams. He gave back in many ways.”

Aurora Photos invites you to join us in honoring the life and photography of Patrick Orton by making a donation to the Patrick Orton Live Your Dreams Scholarship Fund.  A donation may be made at any branch of Wells Fargo Bank or the website: http://www.patrickorton-liveyourdreams.com/

Aurora Photos will continue to manage and represent the photography of Patrick Orton on behalf of his estate. Patrick’s body of work can be seen here.

Thank you for helping to keep the memory and vision of Patrick alive.

Getting inspired with Michael Hanson

 

A portrait of a young girl holding a sea urchin on the inner reef at low tide. Tobou, Lakeba. Photography by Michael Hanson
A portrait of a young girl holding a sea urchin on the inner reef at low tide. Tobou, Lakeba. Photograph by Michael Hanson.

There’s an immediate connection forged in a Michael Hanson image, between the viewer and the subject.  Whether it’s a gaucho in Patagonia, or a child with big dreams in the suburbs of California, you always feel as if you’re there, drawn into the moment as a participant rather than an outsider.  Michael’s versatility is on display with his award-winning work at Aurora, which spans the gamut from documentary to humorous moments caught while exploring the great outdoors in his adopted Pacific Northwest.

Click here to see a curated gallery of Michael’s images

Click here to see all of Michael’s work at Aurora

We caught up with Michael in between his travels and personal projects to ask what inspires him to tell these stories, and how he got his start.

A young boy holding a baseball bat points to the sky while standing in front of his two-story house.
A young boy holding a baseball bat points like Babe Ruth while standing in front of his two-story house, Redding, California. Photograph by Michael Hanson.

Aurora: You were a scrappy minor league baseball player in the Atlanta Braves organization and now you’re a well known documentary photographer. What inspired that change? What lessons did you learn as an athlete that have helped you your photography career?

Michael Hanson: A ‘scrappy minor league player’ is often a synonym for a ‘not-so-talented but boy, do you work hard’ player (which is pretty accurate for me, so good intro question). I hope I have a little more talent with the camera but maybe not. The transition was easy for me. Dayton Moore, the director of player development, told me I should think of my next career. That and every time I saw my batting average on the jumbo-tron, I knew the end was near. I like to think I worked hard for a decade or more to be able to compete on the field with some really good players and maybe the same can be said about photography. Both are pretty difficult industries to really make it. Luckily, I love both. I was obsessed with baseball while playing and now I seem to be consumed by photography. When I was in the minors I was exposed to a really interesting culture and it was a conscious decision to start shooting it. That’s how I started my photography career.

Au: There’s a sense of connection to the subject in all of your images, which are candid, open and honest. How are you able to immerse yourself in a culture and be accepted by people, so that the perspective you show viewers is no longer one of an outsider?

MH: Curiosity, I guess. It looks authentic because it is. It’s more fun and fulfilling if my interaction is genuine. Some photographers might be able to get good photographs without that interaction but I like the interaction as much as I like having a good set of images. And, I know the images will be better if I can get access to the subject’s lives and they don’t look at me as an outsider with a camera.

A young man holds his kalashnikov rifle while overlooking the Omo river in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. Photograph by Michael Hanson.
A young man holds his kalashnikov rifle while overlooking the Omo river in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. Photograph by Michael Hanson.

Au: Where do you find inspiration on a daily basis to tell your subjects’ stories?

MH: It’s hard to answer. I just don’t want to list photographers I like and magazines I read and say it’s that simple. I get inspiration from my friends, other photographers, editors, people who aren’t in the art world at all.  There are a handful of photographers I really like and are working on subjects or with certain styles that inspire me. Jonas Bendikson has always been a favorite of mine. Aurora’s own David McLain is another. And, lately Erika Larsen is a pleasure to see.  So much of the inspiration that we find comes from the people doing what they do, whether that’s teaching or starting an urban farm or whatever it is they do. That’s the inspiration, and we just have to figure out how to tell it simply and not let production get in the way of the story. When I’m shooting in a remote location, there’s not a ton of room for inspiration. The subject is doing what they do, with or without me there, and if I set myself up correctly with good light and don’t drop the camera, all I have to do is figure out how to make a clean frame that accurately describes the subject. Of course, my research has given me an idea of what to expect in that situation.

Part of the inspiration comes from the fear of failure. I like being a photographer and I want to keep being one. I want to tell an accurate story so I better be inspired to put the work in. I’m inspired by people who are trying to use their images or work for good. That’s a wide net but I think we all admire those individuals and they inspire us.

A woman holds a collection of prayer dolls she made in her house with the support of a local co-op.
A woman holds a collection of prayer dolls she made in her house with the support of a local co-op, Nahuala, Guatemala. Photograph by Michael Hanson.

Au: You’ve been able to get great access to the Amish community, a religion that, in your words, “shuns photography,” and capture some deeply personal and candid imagery. What was the inspiration behind shooting them, and what drives you to keep trying to get access?

MH: At first it was simply the challenge of getting images from inside a small community. After spending a few days with them, I realized how unique their lifestyle was, and it was smack right in the middle of our country. Again, the curiosity of a unique culture might be enough to drive me to get to know them more and document something that isn’t often accessible. I’ll still visit them and have developed some good relationships.

A young man harvests leaks at an organic field, Sequim, Washington. Photograph by Michael Hanson.
A young man harvests leaks at an organic field, Sequim, Washington. Photograph by Michael Hanson.

Au: You have a brother who is also a photographer. Do you find yourself competing with him or do you bounce ideas off each other?

MH: We still wrestle daily for assignments just like we did after I beat him in Tecmo Bowl in 1989-1993. We haven’t had too many clients that overlap. Occasionally, we do and are supportive of each other. We have different styles I think. I’m more documentary and he has a little more fine art in his work. We definitely bounce ideas off each other. And, we work together often on the video projects with our good friend Brett Schwager on ModocStories.com. Working together is a nice way to not compete.

A gaucho, a Chilean cowboy, on his horse in an open field as he rounds up his sheep, Patagonia, Chile. Photograph by Michael Hanson.
A gaucho, a Chilean cowboy, on his horse in an open field as he rounds up his sheep, Patagonia, Chile. Photograph by Michael Hanson.

Au: If you weren’t making pictures, what would you be doing?

MH: Well, damn, I would say playing in the big leagues, but I already went down that road and it was a dead end. Maybe some sort of research biology. I tend to like science-y work. My friend is a hydrologist, and I think that’d be cool. But probably just an A-list movie star on the side to be safe, like Eric Estrada or something. Ya know, gotta pay the bills.