HighlightMerek Davis


HighlightMerek Davis

A patchwork of amazing west coast captures is exactly what you'll find when exploring David Loren Bissell's (@david.loren.bissell) work on Instagram.  Beachside golds, foggy morning grays and greens, and the memorable pinks and purples of sunrises and sunsets, all composed and enhanced with great care and precision.  It's hard for David's work not to set itself apart.  We've been following along for quite some time and now we'd love to pass his pictures along to you.  After concluding a long discussion about photography and everything surrounding it, we pieced together our conversation with him and put it up for you to read here!

I'm David Bissell, I'm a 35 year old father of an 8 year old daughter and my young son!  I grew up in Ventura County, California.  Currently residing in Humboldt county, California.  I've been interested in photography since high school where I took a couple semesters of an analog photography class.  We learned to shoot film, develop, and make prints in a dark room.  I loved it - the combination of art and technical skill fit me well.  I didn't do much with photography for a long time after that.  Mostly because I concentrated on my other hobby: playing guitar in punk rock bands.  

But a few years ago my life changed - a lot.  I won't bore you with details, but my marriage and home town life were at an end.  It led me to seek out nature for peace and exercise.  It was natural for me to photograph what I saw when I was hiking and camping.  I wanted my photos to convey to the viewer what I felt when I was there capturing them -  serenity, humility, awe.  The more research, time, and effort I put into collecting images, the closer I feel that I get to accomplishing that goal.  When I really started diving back in to photography I shot with an iPhone 4.  About a year ago I finally was able to get a DSLR - a Nikon D3300.  

And I've used Mextures since the beginning!

What is it that keeps you taking pictures?

Well, it's a blast.  When you've scouted a location, you've spent all day hiking there, you're tired, you find a composition, and the weather changes and the clouds and the sun are just right - and you realize that the scene you're capturing will never look exactly the same again.  Of course, then you’re hoping your skill with the gear can do it justice.  I feel like I'm in another world when things come together like that.  Also, I am really inspired by the community - when I see someone's pictures and they just blow me away, I feel driven to someday make images that captivate people that way.  The earth is so beautiful.

What does your editing process usually look like?

I shoot in RAW, develop with Adobe camera raw, and then I use Dropbox so I can open the resulting images with Mextures on my iPhone 6.  At that point, I select a film preset and tweak the adjustment dials.  Then I'll add layers and in between tweak the adjustments dials.  I generally stick to one or two film settings.  Currently I'm loving F-ASTIA. For the longest time I used the Diana film preset exclusively because of the distinct contrast and for what it does to clouds - it really brings out pinks & purples in cloudy skies.  I started using other film presets when I felt like I needed more detail in shadow areas.  I use Mextures overlays to help guide the eye or to add drama.  I love the Landscape Enhance and Vintage Gradient overlays and I almost always start with one of those.  One thing I really like doing is adding an Emulsion layer, changing it to the exclusion blend mode and then putting it in between Radiance or Atmospheric overlays.  I'll do that to fade detail on things I don't want the viewers attention on.

Do you have any formulas that you’d be willing to share? 

When I started to get the hang of Mextures a lot of my formulas were psychadelic colors like UWWXAKR - I loved the "Lunar" layers colors in conjunction with the "Diana" film preset.  This formula adds a very pronounced yellow and pink look.  Additionally I would add subtle grit and use exclusions to force the focus away from less important areas of the image.  

Eventually I started dialing back the pronounced color overlays in favor of a much more mellow, dreamy look like LKJMGQJ or WCHRAJR.  I still really like that look - really faded with lots of pink.  I decided I needed to push myself to grow with my photography and with my editing process.  I wanted a lot more detail in the shadows and a more real world looking finished image.  

Experimentation led me to start creating formulas like warm, detailed LPEQHKX or clean and purple SKKSXLG.  Recently I've been doing really subtle edits like KZLUPDL - subtle only if you haven't seen the image before the formula is applied!

What has been your favorite photo to capture so far?

I think probably a photo I took at the Canyon Creek Lakes in the Trinity Alps Wilderness in Trinity County, California.  It was my first solo backpacking trip and I had never been there.  I hiked about 10 miles and set up my tent next to this beautiful lake surrounded by granite.  The whole reason I was there was to get a shot of the sun hitting the mountains at sunrise - when I woke up at 6am the next morning after sleeping like crap (a deer tripped over one of the guylines on my tent), the light I was hoping for never happened.  But I looked around and found what I thought was a cool foreground.  It's not my favorite photo I've taken, but the experience and what I learned in the process made it my favorite capture.

What have you found inspires your photography more than anything else? 

What really inspires me is the feeling I get when I'm out taking pictures.  Coming around a corner on a trail and the light is just perfect and there's a beautiful scene - there's nothing like that.  All the elements of a great experience: discovery, awe, physical exercise, use of technical skill.  I think on some deep level it makes humans feel good to travel by foot and see beautiful things.  It's really satisfying to be able to bring images home not only as art but as a record of your discovery.  Even if it's a place thousands of other people have discovered before you.

Who are the people who have inspired you the most when it comes to your photography?

My father taught me to appreciate art from early on.  We would go to art museums, he bought me art books, and he encouraged me to be creative with everything.  As far as photography itself, I can't really name any specific person.  Online photo communities inspires me.  Everyone I follow and lots of people I don't.  

I have to say that the person who inspired my editing with mextures the most was @immersivelove.  The looks he was generating with very early versions of mextures were killer and they totally changed the way I used mextures.

The guys and gals that inspire me most on Instagram are the travel-photographer-epic-landscape types.  Seeing amazing, pristine landscape photos really pushes me to get better with the gear I have access to, with composition, with being there at the right time, and to get better at processing.  One of my biggest challenges is slowing myself down and composing a good shot.  When I show up at a location and the light is good I get so excited, I have to consciously think to myself, "Okay.  Slow own. Find something for a foreground...”.  There’s always so much to learn!

You can see a heaps more of David’s work here!