Tag Archives: joe klementovich

Gratitude for the Outdoors

father and son duck hunting, Suisun Marsh, Suisun City, California, USA

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. In contrast to some other national holidays, Thanksgiving offers us the opportunity to focus on our selves and our place in the world as something more than just passive consumers. Amid the frenzy of food preparation, cooking, and table setting, I choose instead to take the opportunity to consider the place that the food has in my life, and my place in the food chain. Whether you eat animals or not, Thanksgiving, with its focus on sharing a central meal, offers an opportunity to reflect on the roles of hunting, agriculture, and human interdependence.

Our modern food supply chain bears more resemblance to the idealized “simpler times” than you’d think – even in the 17th century, there was specialization of roles. I reflect during this meal on the ways we rely on our local farmers, our own gardens, and for some of us, the hunters, fishermen, and foragers in our families. I like to give thanks for the people who care both for and about food year round, and who make sure we have access to healthy meals. It’s also worth reflecting that there are many people in our own communities that don’t always have the same access.

The fresh foods and garden veggies are not the only opportunity to increase and share healthy habits with our loved ones. Thanksgiving gets its name from the giving of thanks for our bounties, and recent studies have confirmed that just the act of giving thanks has myriad health benefits for our selves and our communities, increasing pro-social interaction, physical health, and sleep, while reducing the aggression that is in so many ways encouraged and fostered the very next day – the capitalistic feeding frenzy known as Black Friday.

The outdoors provides us with so much, it’s hard to pick just a few things to feel grateful for. The opportunity to connect with history by growing and stewarding lesser-known heirloom varieties of crops; places to explore, both large and small; an escape from constant electronic stimulations and distractions; (hopefully) safe interactions with, and observations of wildlife; and inspiration. Our photographers, and the outdoors, are the pillars of Aurora — without open, wild spaces, the quiet refuge of the woods, the mystery of the sea, or even a space for recreation in their backyard, they’d be unable to work or play. Here are some of the things our photographers are grateful to the outdoors for.
– Nate Adams and Larry Westler, Aurora Photos

Galen Carter riding in the foothills of the Wasatch Front outside of Salt Lake City, Utah

Wray Sinclair
“I’m thankful for the ability to enjoy the public lands that surround us. From paddling out to surf at 7am in the Pacific Ocean, to skiing endless powder in the backcountry of the Wasatch Mountains, to hiking around the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’m grateful for these places that have had immense impact on my life and business.”

Chris Bennett
“My job takes me around the globe to some of the world’s most beautiful and interesting places. I climb mountains and ride bikes and go for runs for a living! I’m always meeting new people and being challenged by friends I know in the industry. While hours in airports and security lines can be annoying, all I have to do is sit back and think about how I’m not in a cubicle 40 hours a week. For this I am thankful!”
(EDITORS NOTE: Chris is ALSO thankful for the staff at Aurora Photos who do have to spend some of their time in an office, albeit not a cubicle)

A Reflection In A Female Skier's Goggles As She Takes A Selfie Around Cerro Catedral

Ben Girardi
“I am thankful for the mountains that surround my home, and for the cold storms that bring in moisture off the Pacific and dump meters of snow. I love to explore the mountains in all conditions, but am extremely thankful to be able to explore them in the winter season, snowboarding powder with my camera, capturing everyone’s excitement. Snowboarding keeps you young at heart and it shows, when you see full-grown men with a child-like grin shining through snow-filled beards.”

Jen Magnuson
“When I was 26 years old, my body started attacking itself, and I was told by doctors that I needed to accept that, learn to manage it, and find a new normal.  I decided to fight back instead, for five excruciating years.  Every year, the anniversaries of the onset of the symptoms, the final treatments, the loss of my law enforcement career pass, and I am grateful.  I’m grateful for health restored completely, and grateful for an experience that made me focus on making life more of what I love and less of what I though it “should” be.  I’m grateful to be able to see and document places that I can only access under human power, when that human power was almost lost to me 14 years ago.  I guess I found a new normal. . . a life of adventure and beauty and gratitude. . . because even the roughest experiences can hold within them the greatest lessons and outcomes.”

Female surfer walking in water and carrying surfboard against large white cloud, Hawaii, USA

Sean Davey
“I’m thankful for the sea which has inspired and amazed me since I was a toddler. It is the sea that has allowed me to have such a long career as a photographer.   From living in Australia to living in Hawaii and traveling around to so many other places in the world, the ocean has always been the one constant that I could always rely on.  I add to my photographic archive from the sea on a usually every other day basis.  It’s my daily exercise routine as well as my spiritual place.  I am one with the sea.”

Logan Mock-Bunting
“I am thankful for the seasons in Hawaii. Folks who don’t know any better assume that because the weather is nice all year, we don’t have seasons. Incorrect. My two favorite seasons here are Mango Season and Big Wave Season. I often crave sweets after coming out of salt water, and it is really hard to top wrapping up a fun surf or free-dive session by picking and cutting into a fresh, sweet mango. The feeling of being in massive, powerful surf (or even being on shore witnessing it) is one of the most humbling, awesome (and at times unsettling) experiences I know. And the fact that these cycles only come around for a short time each year make them even more precious.”

Helicopter above the Great Blue Hole

Evgeny Vasenev
“I am currently on a one year trip around the globe, and it’s hard to express how amazing and diverse our world is, when limited to words. So far, I have explored mountains, oceans, forests, and savannas, and all of them have inspired me and made my heart beat faster. I am grateful for the ability to see this beauty, to feel the wind on my skin, and to smell the fresh air. Thanks, the world! You are fantastic!”

Chris Kimmel
“I am thankful for the extreme diversity of natural ecosystems that create a stunning mosaic-like landscape in the tiny corner of SW British Columbia that I call home.  I am well-travelled, yet every time I step off the plane at Vancouver International Airport I am thankful to be back; back to a culturally rich, melting pot of humanity, that has more outdoor adventure opportunities than your brain can handle.  Where else can you indulge in world-class skiing, mountain biking, fishing, scuba diving, climbing, camping, canoeing and kayaking in one day…if you could fit it all in? The landscapes that surround me inspire exploration, creation, adventure, and a passion for conservation. They instill in us a greater responsibility to care for the place we all call home.”

Side view waist up shot of senior farmer inspecting blueberry bush in autumn, Stratham, New Hampshire, USA

John Benford
“I am thankful for my local farmers, especially at Thanksgiving time. I appreciate those who toil to bring us sustenance, who turn the soil, pick the produce and milk the cows, so that we can nourish our bodies. The farmers I know – who don’t just work the land but work WITH the land, whose livelihoods depend on the cycle of the seasons, whose lives are intertwined with those of their plants and animals – have a different connection with the earth, with life and death, and with the sacred than the rest of us. There is a part of me that thinks we all should be farmers, at least for some part of our lives, and that might help us transform our relationship with the earth from one of dominion to one of stewardship.”

Joe Klementovich
“I’m thankful for the personal connections that grow through working as a photographer. It might be slogging into the backcountry with a crew, hanging out by the campfire with an art director or shivering in the cold while sharing a belay with an athlete; these are the moments that grow into long-lasting friendships. Exploring and appreciating the outdoors brings us all together. So I send out a huge thank you to all the amazing people that I get to work, play and hang around with. Have an extra slice of pie on me!”

A child looks out the window at a yellow larch tree in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Robert van Waarden
‘Today, looking out the window, my 1 year old son says to me, “I can see the larch.” The rest of the trees have lost their leaves and the yellowing larches stand out like a child’s sore, but beautiful, thumb. He reminds me of the importance of little things and the small details of changing seasons. Of details that I embrace and capture through my lens that remind us this planet, our only home, is worth fighting for.’ 

Climate Change: Good News From the Front Lines

Fernbank Forest, Downtown Atlanta, Georgia in the background. Photographed from a drone. Fernbank Forest is a 65-acre urban old-growth Piedmont forest in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.
A view above Fernbank Forest, with Atlanta, Georgia in the background. Fernbank Forest is a 65-acre urban old-growth Piedmont forest being conserved and protected near downtown Atlanta.

The news coming out of Washington DC, in the form of the President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, has been disheartening for many who are concerned about the state of our climate and environment. But there is good news, too. On the front lines of the fight against global warming and climate change, much is being done at the grass roots level, at the local governmental level, and through independent scientific research. Several Aurora photographers have been on those front lines covering the stories of positive change and bring us the following good news.

Ice storm experiments in New Hampshire, by Joe Klementovich

Researcher does research on replicated man-made ice storm damage in order to study the effects of ice storms in New Hampshire forests
A researcher from Hubbard Brook Research center examines man-made ice damage from a replicated ice storm in a New Hampshire forest in order to study the effects of ice storms on the environment.

Ice climbing, mountaineering and suffering at cold belays has prepared me well for shooting through the frigid February nights at Hubbard Brook Research center. Tucked back in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Hubbard Brook has been studying the environment on a large scale since 1955. They were the first group that discovered acid rain back in the 70’s. The last two winters, graduate students, scientists, and researchers have been mimicking ice storms to study the effects on the forest, looking at everything from soil change to the impact on birds and insects.

Having a dedicated photography and film crew to capture the process as well as the aftermath allowed the researchers to create a library of images and video that has become critical in explaining and sharing the experiment at a public level and to the scientific community. Photographs and video were picked up on a wide variety of outlets ranging from National Geographic to the Weather Channel to the local paper.

In a day and age where science is under attack from various corners, producing a photographic record will hopefully pushed the climate change conversation into living rooms and cafes, not just the research offices, and help show the real life impacts it is creating. The experiments have been a success scientifically, but it also showed the science community that being able to effectively demonstrate their work to the world visually is just as important as the experiments.

Click here to see more photos of the ice storm experiments by Joe Klementovich

Hubbard Brook Website. http://hubbardbrook.org/overview/history.shtml 

Energy Independence at the Ashram, by Ashley Cooper

The Muni Seva Ashram in Goraj, near Vadodara, India, is a tranquil haven of humanitarian care. The Ashram is hugely sustainable, next year it will be completely carbon neutral. Its first solar panels were installed in 1984, long before climate change was on anyones agenda. Their energy is provided from solar panels, and wood grown on the estate. Waste food and animal manure is turned inot biogas to run the estates cars and also used for cooking. Solar cookers are also used, and the air conditioning for the hospital is solar run. 70 % of the food used is grown on the estate. They provide an orphanage, schools for all ages, vocational training, care for the elderly, a specialist cancer hospital withstate of the art machinary, and even have a solar crematorium. This shot shows students making a portable solar cooker. These lightweight devices were used on an expedition to the Himalayas to cook all the expeditions food.
Students at the Muni Seva Ashram i Goraj, India, make a portable solar cooker. These lightweight devices were used on expeditions to the Himalayas to cook all the expeditions food. Almost 100% of energy at the Ashram is generated through solar and wood grown on the estate.

Visiting the Muni Seva Ashram, in Goraj, India, is like stepping into a haven of peace and tranquility. The Ashram delivers services from the cradle to the grave. They provide an orphanage, infant and secondary schools, vocational training, old people’s sheltered housing, and a specialist cancer hospital with all the latest high tech equipment. The Ashram is 100% powered by renewable energies. They fitted their first solar panels in 1984, long before any one had heard of climate change. Since then they have invested in more and more renewable technologies. Solar panels, provide much of the energy, along with biofuel which is generated onsite from food waste and wood from the estate. 70% of the food is grown organically in the grounds. The two cars used by the Ashram run on biogas, and even the air conditioning in the hospital is solar powered.

Deepak Gadhia had been a successful Indian business man until his wife died of cancer. From that point on he dedicated the rest of his life to supporting the Ashram and has been the driving force behind its conversion to renewable and sustainable practices. His enthusiasm has been infectious, and his dedication to helping his fellow citizens humbling. His proudest moment of my tour was showing me the world’s first solar crematorium, designed by Deepak and built on the estate. Local religion dictates that upon death you are cremated. In the past locals have gone into the forest to chop down enough wood to build a funeral pyre. Long term, this is a destructive process that impacts on biodiversity. The large solar reflector, concentrates the suns rays on a metal box in which the body is placed. It can burn four bodies a day, leaving the local forest intact.

I left the ashram amazed by what I had seen and convinced that this has to be the way forward, it is possible to power our lives exclusively from renewable energy, and if we are serious about tackling climate change it is the only option we have.

Click here to see more photos of the Ashram by Ashley Cooper

Fernbank Forest Restoration, by Peter Essick

Southern two-lined salamander (Eurycea cirrigera), Fernbank Forest, Atlanta, Georgia
Southern two-lined salamander (Eurycea cirrigera), Fernbank Forest, Atlanta, Georgia. Delicate amphibians like salamanders are often the first affected by changing climate. Restoring habitat like Fernbank conserves critical biodiversity where urban areas might otherwise encroach.

Fernbank Forest is a 65-arce urban old-growth forest a few minutes from downtown Atlanta. The forest is owned by the Fernbank Museum nearby, but until recently few people were allowed to visit. The forest is an excellent example of a southern Piedmont forest with many species of old-growth trees, animals and native plants. However, in recent years the forest floor was overrun with invasive plants such as English Ivy, monkey grass and wisteria. Through the help of volunteers, donors, ecologists and donors the museum began a program of restoration four years ago. This past October, the forest was opened to the public and restoration efforts continue. It is hoped that over the coming years the forest can be restored to a fully functioning forest that will not only be enjoyed by visitors and wildlife, but also become a valuable asset in the battle against climate change.

I started photographing Fernbank Forest almost two years ago to document both the natural beauty and the restoration efforts. The difference to the forest floor was very evident this spring as many native wildflowers and ferns  began blooming in areas that were once covered in ivy. I hope that my photos will show that urban forests are not only vital green spaces for our environment, but can be a rewarding subject for an photographer willing to walk in the woods with their eyes open and camera ready.

Click here to see more photos of Fernbank Forest by Peter Essick

Clean Cookstoves and Solar Sister Make a Difference, by Joanna B. Pinneo

Mforo, Tanzania a village near Moshi, Tanzania. Solar Sister entrepreneur Fatma Mziray cooking dinner on her clean cookstove that uses wood. Fatma Mziray is a Solar Sister entrepreneur who sells both clean cookstoves and solar lanterns. Fatma heard about the cookstoves from a Solar Sister development associate and decided to try one out. The smoke from cooking on her traditional wood stove using firewood was causing her to have a lot of heath problems, her lungs congested her eyes stinging and her doctor told her that she had to stop cooking that way. Some days she felt so bad she couldn't go in to cook. Fatma said, ?Cooking for a family, preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner I used to gather a large load of wood every day to use. Now with the new cook stove the same load of wood can last up to three weeks of cooking. ?With the extra time I can develop my business. I also have more time for the family. I can monitor my children?s studies. All of this makes for a happier family and a better relationship with my husband. Since using the clean cookstove no one has been sick or gone to the hospital due to flu.? Fatma sees herself helping her community because she no longer sees the people that she has sold cookstoves have red eyes, coughing or sick like they used to be. She has been able to help with the school fees for her children, purchase items for the home and a cow. ?What makes me wake up early every morning and take my cookstoves and go to my business is to be able to take my family to school as well as to get food and other family needs.?
Solar Sister entrepreneur Fatma Mziray cooking dinner on her clean cookstove in Mforo, Tanzania. Fatma is a Solar Sister entrepreneur who sells both clean cookstoves and solar lanterns.

The most dangerous activity for a woman in the developing world is cooking for her family. More than three billion people worldwide still cook and heat their homes using solid fuels. The simple act of cooking causes roughly 4.3 million premature deaths per year from respiratory and pulminary illnesses from smoke inhilation.  These deaths disproportionately affect women and children who spend the most time indoors in close proximity to dirty cook stoves.

Fatma Mziray, a vibrant thirty-eight year-old Tanzanian woman, raises six children, works on the farm with her husband, runs two side businesses and cooks most of the three meals a day for her family.  Fatma has not always been this healthy and vibrant. Like others in her community she cooked over a traditional three-stone cook stove that is highly smoky. Fatma started having chest pains, her eyes were red and watery and she was always tired. When Fatma heard about an easy to use and inexpensive efficient cook stove from a Solar Sister Tanzanian entrepreneur, she bought one. Not only did she start feeling better immediately, as did her children, but she noticed that she used a fraction of the firewood as the traditional cooking method. Now she is a Solar Sister entrepreneur. herself. Working with and organization like Solar Sister provides her with extra cash to send her children onto secondary school, an opportunity she did not have. She also helps other women in her area to improve the health of their families, simultaneously lessening local deforestation and reducing carbon emissions from traditional stoves.

In 2016 I received a Ted Scripps Fellowship at University of Colorado in Boulder to study environmental journalism and research household air pollution. Through working with Ripple Effect Images, I learned about the devastating effects of household air pollution, especially on women and children in the developing world. Great progress has been made by organizations like Solar Sister to find creative life changing and life saving solutions that also make our planet cleaner and more livable. Although the stoves are not 100% clean technology, they are significantly more efficient and healthier than the three-stone method. The Solar Sister model works because not only do women like the stove, but the peer to peer effort to sell and distribute the stoves makes local women more likely to put the new cleaner stove to use.

Click here to see more photos of Solar Sister by Joanna B. Pinneo

You can  view more stories and images of climate impact, both positive and negative, in our Environmental Photography collection. Through this collection, Aurora provides communication professionals the visual resources to effectively tell the evolving story of our environment and our planet.