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Mountain moments.

It is tempting in life to want to see it all; to cover as much ground as possible and leave footprints in a long list of places.  This breadth of experience does have its merits, but it also has its sacrifices: namely, depth within each experience.  Personally, I increasingly value the depth side of experience and choose adventures that are more in the slow travel category these days rather than trying to see the entire map.  There really is a big difference between passing through a spot and spending some quality time there.

When it comes to the natural world, or any place for that matter, you can return to the same location and every time it will be different.  There are so many variables – the seasons, the weather, the flora and fauna that are constantly adapting to the environment – and the complex relationships that bind them all result in an infinite number of moments continually arising and falling away.

The next time you see a photo printed on the wall, try thinking to yourself:

The place depicted in this captured moment exists right now as much as it did when the shutter was released, only now its existence in this instant of time it is different.  It might be frozen, or perhaps it has grown, or maybe decay has taken over and things have undergone a transformation into something entirely different.  Whatever the case, the one thing we can be certain of is that as time marched forward it has changed.  All of the elements depicted within the frame have moved on from this momentary confluence that has been immortalized in a photograph and exist somewhere else in space and time right now.

Over the years I have experimented with all sorts of multimedia: photography, video, audio, animation…the list goes on, but I always return to a foundation rooted in a synthesis of images and words.  There is a deep power in a still photograph’s ability to freeze time and bear witness to life’s fleeting moments as they arise and pass.  For me, this act of seeing is an extension of my awareness practice: noticing moments that will never exactly happen as they are again, capturing them as seen through my eye, and sharing them with others in hopes that they might glimpse what I see too.  Despite the many other forms of creative expression that I have played with, I just keep coming back to the classic pairing of photography and writing for this reason.

This past year, I returned to two particular places in the Canadian Rocky Mountains – Kananaskis and Yoho National Park – at two different times – mid-July and late-September.  While the locations were constant, returning at different times offered an opportunity to glimpse the relativity of one moment in time with another, resulting in a deeper experience and understanding of the connected ecosystem.

In the 17 days that I spent camped out in the mountain valleys, I got chased out of the alpine by thunderstorms, basked in the sun in my hammock, and huddled around a wood-stove in efforts to dry off after three days of unexpectedly heavy snow.  I witnessed the brief flowering and subsequent hibernation of mountain meadows.  I watched the animals cautiously reclaim the trails as the summer throngs of humans returned to their cities.  The common thread in all of this would seem to be noticing the constant change and dancing with it, because base camp took on as many different forms as the environment in which it rested.

Here are a few slices of time from both of my 2016 ventures into the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Tent view in Kananaskis

Driving from Winnipeg to the mountains takes about 17 hours.  If you push through it in a single day you usually find yourself setting up camp after sundown.  It’s a long day, but worth it if you get to open your tent to this view in the morning.

Tent camping in Kananaskis

Home sweet home in Kananaskis.

Looking back on the South Buller Pass Hiking Trail

Patches of green fading away with elevation.  This is the view looking back on the southern access route to Buller Pass in the summer.

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February 13, 2017 - 7:39 pm

Allison Storseth - Thank you for sharing! I really enjoyed reading (and viewing)

February 14, 2017 - 1:39 pm

Robyn - Wow David! You really capture the feeling of the mountains well – like, the best! Really, it’s hard (I’ve tried). Keep it up and I look forward to when you return. 🙂

February 14, 2017 - 3:32 pm

Karenia - This may be my favourite photo essay of yours yet.

The heart of internal work.

We need to see the beauty in things again.
When we wake, we need to hear the birds outside our window and see the sun shine light on the darkness that came in the night.
When we look in the mirror, we need to see ourselves clearly through the fog of self-judgement.
When we go about our day, we need to remember to watch for positivity in the shadows of our bright differences.
When we come home, we need to appreciate who and what we have.
And when we go to bed, we need to remind ourselves that tomorrow is not a given and one day we will not wake to have a chance to do it all again.
We need to see the beauty in things again.  Try to remember, each and every day.

I share this as we move through one of the darkest times of the year; both in terms of light and in terms of spirit.  Statistics show that the third week of January is the suicide peak of the year.  These days the most common disease we face is that of mental illness, so much so that I cannot think of a single person whom I know intimately that has not gone through bouts with it at one point or another.  It is so prevalent, yet eerily untalked about; often medicated instead of dealt with at the root.  And so, I’m posting this to participate in Bell Let’s Talk Day.

Acknowledging these struggles and wanting to do something to alleviate it, for the past couple years I have been a part of efforts to help people take care of themselves amidst their own individual struggles – from teaching a workshop to strangers at a yoga festival last year to leading an intimate workshop with 25 returning students in a tattoo parlour just up the street from my home the other day.  Contrary to the rather glossy forms of learning meditative practices these days, the real work is done quietly each and every day before the sun rises; in a dedicated practice of turning the gaze inward and slowly moving along the continuum of gross to subtle to work with mental states.  The following photos were created to visually illustrate the latter.

This piece of writing and this set of photographs are of a personal nature to me.  As both a teacher and life-long student of the meditative practice, I aim to cut through the fog of disillusion that rises in the mind to see the world more clearly…to see the beauty in things again.

Self-care is so important.  However you do it, the important thing is that you do it.

Candlelit mediation - jnana mudra

Jnana mudra: the traditional gesture of wisdom.

Meditation - shadow self

Through stillness and focused awareness we are able to peer into the shadows of our minds and work with whatever we find there.

Yoga drishti - focus

Despite physical movement, the heart of meditative process (which includes yoga and the asana that is popularized these days) is 100% internal: first the moral and ethical principles, then the training of the mind with focused action of the physical body, and then working at the mental level.  We cannot skip the process and jump into dealing with mental states.  First, we need to train the mind.

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February 7, 2017 - 5:09 pm

Allison Storseth - I wholeheartedly enjoyed this piece. It’s easy to get into a rut of sadness and anger… a cycle I feel I have been falling into repeatedly lately. Thanks for the fantastic reminder to be grateful for all we have everyday

February 8, 2017 - 10:59 am

David - I’m glad you enjoyed it Ally. I hear you and you’re not alone. Keep your head up my friend!

Happy holidays!

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Wherever you find yourself today, I wish you warmth, peace, and safety.  We are snowed in at home right now and our original plans for the day have been scrapped in the name of safety, but I am grateful to be able to say that these three things are still checked off today: we are warm, we are peaceful, and we are safe.  My wish is the same for you, your loved ones, and every single person out there.

Frosty Window

Frost on the windows…snow on the ground…grateful for shelter.

December 26, 2016 - 1:25 pm

Daniel - Happy holidays David!

December 26, 2016 - 1:35 pm

Cheryl - Brrr. Your Christmas in Canada looks very different than my Christmas here in Arizona! lol

December 27, 2016 - 4:48 pm

Ally - Beautiful picture! Keep warm shovelling ❄️

Interview on making photographs in the cold.

David Quiring - Winter Portrait

David Quiring – a winter portrait.

A few weeks ago, I was approached by Feature Shoot to do an interview.  The topic of interest: making images in frigid temperatures – one of the more difficult environments to shoot in, and something I have a lifetime of experience with.

Appropriately, now that the temperature has plummeted, the article has been published!  Check out the stories and photographic tips I have shared here.

December 15, 2016 - 5:44 pm

Ma Prem Jayana - Congratulations David!

December 15, 2016 - 8:25 pm

Cathy - Congratulations David. You do excellent work

The holidays are approaching – last call for greeting cards!

A friendly reminder to everyone that the calendar has flipped over to December!

Time is flying and the holidays are fast approaching.  To be completely honest, it snuck up on me this year.  We are just starting to see the first dusting of snow here in Winnipeg, and that is unseasonably late (to put it lightly).  Judging by the amount of print orders that have been coming through my inbox in the last few days, I think you all are more on top of it than me though.

Either way, if you are looking for greeting cards to give to the ones you love this season, consider the wintery card sets I’ve made available through my Etsy shop.  They’ve got character, the photos pop out so that they don’t end up in the dumpster two days after Christmas, and the insides are blank so that you can give the gift of your words to your friends and family.  These orders are a priority for me right now, so expect them to be printed, crafted, and mailed within 24 hours from now through December 25th so as to get them into your hands as soon as possible.

Polar bear cub - greeting card

A polar bear cub struts across this handmade greeting card.

Polar bear greeting cards

There are six greeting cards to a set, which comes with six handmade envelopes as well.  All that’s missing are your words, some postage, and a destination address.