David Hessell Photographer

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Summer 2017




I would like to thank all those people that showed up at South Mountain State Park for the early morning walk up the mountain ...

Sorry I missed some of you, but I am always amazed that we can walk up, and down, the same trail, but not run into each other ...

I had a great time ... Even got a few images. Which led to me going back to where I photographed the two streams coming together ...

I noticed some BIG trout in the pool (which I have fished for over twenty years) and knew where I was going to be later on when the crowd thinned out ...

I must have spent an hour, or two, or three, there later that evening, just hauling them in, and thinning out the pool.


A day well spent.

And again, thank you ... I was/am blown away by the kindness of my students/friends and their gift card to ...

Wait for it ...



They know me so well ...

Very kind, very giving ...

I have said it for years ...

I have been very lucky to have had an outlet to share my passion for everything photography ...

From the good ol' Black and White darkroom adventures, to The Saturday Color Slide outings across the state in the OLD college van (and yes, the steering wheel was that loose),  to the OBX week-long photo fests, the Zoo, a couple Chimney Rock over-nighters, SMSP, The Railroad Museum, The Lazy-5 Ranch (for children of ALL ages), and ...

Let's not forget downtown Hudson (like, every semester!), Lenoir, The County Fair, Hickory, and, yes, even the walk around the college ...

How many images can you take of a stairwell?

Yeah, like THOUSANDS!

And the flowers around campus?

And the little maple tree just outside F-Building? Every night before coming to class ...

Hey wait? How many of you actually did that? You know, for real?


I thought I was the only one crazy enough to do that ...


Thanks for taking my class.

And feeding my passion.

I had fun.


Photo Cliff Notes
          Art 264/265 
1.) Look at the Light
Photography is light. Study it. Make it work for you. There are three aspects of light you should understand. Know these!
Hard Light/Soft Light.
Hard light has sharp shadows, soft light has no shadows. Clouds, fog, haze, and forest fires diffuse the light which takes away the shadows.

Look for the shadows! Know what type of light you are shooting in so you can make it work to your advantage.

HARD LIGHT? Think texture. Look for subjects that have texture, and then try to have the light "rake" over that texture at a 90 degree angle ... Nice. Think Clint Eastwood, old barns, peeling paint, rolling hills ... Whatever. You WANT the contrast between the two. My favorite type of light!!

SOFT LIGHT? No shadows? Good, now use it. Women, flowers, kids, puppies, you can't go wrong! Soft light brings out details ... Look for all the soft and fluffy things in your life. Easy.

Hard or soft, make the light work for you. Period. If you have hard light, but want soft light, no problem, defuse it. That is why I gave you all a white trash bag.  Cut it open and hold it between the light and the subject … Have soft light, but need hard light? Cool. Light it. That is why I told you to carry a flashlight, or buy a flash. Blast it! Add light when needed. Simple. A candle … Your car headlights … A Full-Moon, any type of light you can find. Yes, even your cell-phone's little dinky light. Perfect.

Warm light: Sunrise/sunset. Yellow, orange, and red tones. Nice. Get up early and stay out late.
Cool Light: Pre-Sunrise, Post-Sunset. Purples, Violets, and Blues. Think mood ... Cold! Think Incandescent White Balance. Get up earlier, stay out later. Don't pack up after sunset, wait it out ... Wait for it ... Wait for it ... Yeah, now you get it.
Look for the "mixing of tones" at sunrise and sunset. Cool/Warm. Beautiful. Magical. In art class, they call them Complementary Colors. They work well with each other. Like I hinted to earlier …

Get up early and stay out late. Period.
Where is the light coming from, and how does it effect the subject?
Front Lighting. With the sun behind you, hitting the subject in the front. Old School. Flat lighting. Think Xerox Copies and Driver's License. No texture. Boring.
Back Lighting. Very dynamic. Bold. The light coming from behind the subject and straight into the camera. Think silhouette. You know, beautiful sunset with the black silhouette of giraffe in the foreground. You KNOW what it is!!Think (-). Push the button ... See what happens.
Side Lighting. Shadows! Brings out texture. A good thing (well, sometimes!). The shadows give "depth" to the image. 45 degrees is classic. 90 degrees is more creative. Think Cutting Edge ... Gives you a sharp "edge" between light/dark. Look for side lighting. Look at the shadows. Love it. Use it. Hunt for it. Again: MY FAVORITE.
Top Lighting:
High Noon. Tough lighting conditions. Shadows under the eyes, nose, cheek bones, chin. Wearing a hat? Black-Hole under the brim. Need to use "fill-flash" to "open" those shadows up. But ... Good for water shots - Think Aruba! The light dives down deep into the water ... Also, good for shooting in the forests, and is actually the best time for exploring Slot Canyons out west! Sweet.

Also ... And very important, it is a great time to eat lunch. Go to a movie. Research sites for later on, e-mail your mom, or take a nap. Got to love "bad" lighting.
Low/Bottom Lighting:
Evil. Think Halloween. But ... If used as a gentle "fill light", it can add a nice touch in portraits. Think Broadway floor lights. Be careful, but try it.
2.) Get Closer
Move in. Zoom in. Fill the frame with only the things you want in your image. Stop. Check the edges of your frame. Study the subject and zoom in on what you think is the most important aspect. Keep it simple. Get Closer! Simplify. Get rid of all the crap!
Again ... Keep it simple. Or, as I like to think of it, remember the K.I.S.S. Principle ..."Keep It Simple, Students".
3.) Take Lots of Pictures
Shoot. Shoot. Shoot.

Work the subject. Shoot. Move around the subject. Shoot. Look for different angles. Shoot. Try different things. Shoot.

It is the little things that make a BIG difference. An inch to the right, a foot higher, a tilt of the head, a smile, a smirk. Look for the little details that make the subject unique, special.

Shoot, shoot, shoot ...
Try something different. And then try something else. Work the subject. And yes, go back to THE LIGHT! Move around, how does the light change? How does it effect the image?

Work it. Don't just blast away ... Blast away from different angles! Study the subject.  Try different settings ... Which takes us to MY THREE BUTTONS.
ISO Button
The most important button!!! Your exposures start with what number you choose. The quality of the images starts here as well. Think!
The lower the number, the better the quality. Aim for 100/200 ISO.
More Light: Lower ISO (100/200)
Less Light: Higher ISO (400/800)
Low ISO = Slower Shutter Speeds
High ISO = Faster Shutter Speeds
Want Blur? Low ISO (100/200)
Want to freeze the action? Higher ISO (400/800)
Tripod/Flash: Low ISO
No Tripod/Flash: High ISO

Use the slowest ISO setting you can get away with while also getting the shutter speed you need. A game you will play forever. Have fun! These newer cameras have great ISO quality at higher numbers … Find out where your camera begins to lose quality ... 800? 1600? 6400? Higher?

PLAY! Find out what your camera can do for you. That simple. Play!
White Balance Button
Changes the COLOR of an image. Auto is good. But ... You can make your images "cooler" or "warmer" if you want. Play. You're the artist. Use your "tools".

Also ... Sometimes the "wrong" color balance just might turn out to be the "correct" color balance! Who knows? Try it. Again, PLAY! You just delete the weird ones, no harm done. Nobody has to know, it will be our little secret!

Compensation (+/-) Button
The one I use the most.
Let me repeat that ...
The one I use the most.
Wear it out! Makes your images lighter (+) or darker (-). Shoot. Adjust. Shoot again. Repeat. Take several images at different settings ... Who knows? You just might like the "wrong" one.
If the subject is BLACK/DARK (-)
If the subject is WHITE/LIGHT (+)
Your camera wants everything to be "mid-tone" (18% Gray), life is not so perfect. Use this button!!! A lot. You are the artist, be creative. Don't settle for what the "Geek Squad" back in Japan thinks is the right exposure. Take charge of your art!
Play, play, play. And play some more.

Find an all-black colored subject. Take a picture of it. Fill your frame with just the BLACK, period. Look at the results. Make the adjustment … Yes, I know you will need to, I'm that good (and that old!). If you had your Compensation Button at 0.0, your black subject WILL be GRAY. Period. Make it BLACK (-).

And, just to make sure you understand this whole mess, find an all-white subject. Make it WHITE (+).

Read my Cliff Notes again. And again. And just for the fun of it, read them again!
Study this.
Practice these ideas. Get your camera out. Find these buttons. Get out and shoot. Think about MY THREE RULES every time you bring the camera to your eye.
Use MY THREE BUTTONS. See how your camera is effected by these buttons. Take charge of YOUR vision, your "style". That simple.
Get out and shoot. Find your passion -- Then go out and shoot it.
Over and over again. 
You MUST use these guidelines to get started.
You MUST study this in order to pass the test.
Yes, it really is that simple.
Have fun! Shoot, shoot, shoot!
You must!




Copyright (c) 2017
The End