Creative Layover: San Francisco

by Lex van den Berghe

posted on 05-01-2017

Picture this – you’ve just arrived in foggy San Francisco, California and your connecting flight isn’t for another three hours. But don’t resign yourself to zoning out in an SFO terminal just yet – this isn’t any boring layover…it’s a Creative Layover, and San Francisco has a lot to offer. Introducing our Creative Layover series, a location-based spotlight featuring Photoshop artists from three compelling and unique categories – photography, photo manipulation, and graphic design/illustration. So grab a windbreaker because we’re kicking it off in the City by the Bay.

San Francisco

Home to the Legion of Honor, the Palace of Fine Arts, SFMOMA, and the de Young, the Fog City is no stranger to the arts. San Francisco has a rich history of arts and culture in a countless variety of ways and the city’s artistic personality can be seen even in its skyline, punctuated by the architectural feats of the Transamerica Building and the Golden Gate Bridge. However, these landmarks and museums are only the start of what this city’s inhabitants have to offer, so we’re going to take a dive into the work of three unique artists – all living in, and inspired by San Francisco. Without further ado, let’s meet them.

Photographer – Casey McCallister

Casey McCallister has always been a lover of the great outdoors, so when he moved to San Francisco in 2013 it was mainly to be closer to the ocean. He says, “Experiencing the beauty of the landscape in this area makes me want to share my journeys with the rest of the world. My camera helps me interpret and portray the things that I see and my photos give a voice to the feeling I get that I’ve never quite figured out how to put into words.” As a self-described outdoor lifestyle photographer, Casey’s work is both documentary and artistic, capturing adventures as they play out.

Black Sand Surfer. “Lost Coast is a portion of Northern California where the coast is too unstable to continue the highway alongside the coast, so access is limited. It also happens to contain one of the few black sand beaches in California. To capture this photo, I took one photo every three seconds, then ventured into the frame myself to provide a sense of scale compared to the ocean’s massive waves.”

Foggy Trees. “Living in the Bay area, fog is something I’m very familiar with, but something I was surprised to stumble across in my annual Colorado fall colors trip. Editing this photo is memorable to me because it was the first time I was confident in using split toning to add color to the highlights and shadows of an image.”

Boat from Above. “Aerial photography has re-energized my love for photography. When I look at the world from above, it’s like seeing everything for the first time. Minimalistic photography and using negative space are things I enjoy in my work so I wanted the viewer almost to see this shot as a boat carving through a piece of fabric.”

Casey’s Tips, Tricks, and Parting Words of Advice:

“I use adjustment layers liberally in Photoshop and I couldn’t live without having the ability to decrease the opacity of layers that might be just a bit too much. Regarding photography as a profession, I found it essential when I first got started to find a mentor, stay humble, and remain open to all advice – even if I didn’t agree. Exposure to all types of advice along the way is the X factor between being good and great.”

Photo Manipulator – Ted Chin

****Ted Chin is a skilled photo manipulator who aims “to turn impossible thoughts into realistic photos.” He pulls inspiration from dreams, nightmares, and everyday life and brings them to life with wild images that teeter on the edge of reality. He says, “The art of storytelling has always been something that inspired me when I was growing up, but I’m not a great writer, so I create images instead. My work is tied together by a story about a young man whose fantasy of exploring the world drives him.”

Aquarium. “The Aquarium is a mix of seven different photos and a few extra layers. Using Photoshop, I mixed the castle to the island, filled the sky with stars, and then changed the lighting from day to night. The ocean/water splitting part was a challenge for me to create. I’ve always been a fan of giant aquariums so I thought it would be interesting to create a fantasy-style aquarium shot.”

Sand Castle. “I’ve never really had a chance to build a sand castle before. But if I could, this is what it would look like.”

Death and Rebirth. “Death and rebirth in the afterlife have always interested me. In this picture, the skull represents death and the butterfly represents resurrection. The woman seems to be in fear of her destiny or the unknown journey, but she must face it.”

Ted’s Tips, Tricks, and Parting Words of Advice:

“One of my favorite tools to use in Photoshop is mask. Adding mask to my images helps me to isolate the subject and clean up the background, so I can blend them into different photos. To create a mask, simply click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers panel, or choose Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. I prefer to use a soft round brush with small size and 100% opacity. It helps me to create a soften edge and therefore the photo blends in more natural.”

Graphic Designer – Danny Jones

Danny Jones, also known as Yasly, is a designer who specializes in 3D interaction and visual design. In the past, he has worked on big and small projects for brands, Instagram takeovers, and just for fun. He incorporates his personal life and passions into some of his projects, like his Florida upbringing and SF-inspired love of craft coffee.

Florida. “This piece is my personal nod to having been born and raised in Florida. In truth, it’s my way of sharing the lesser-known gems from the place I grew up.”

Found Objects. “Visual explorations of surreal objects and how light and form play into composition with a nod to industrial design—all through the lens of 3D.”

Hermes Link Ice Blue Mink. “This is a take on a Drake lyric from the song ‘Gyalchester’ from More Life. Ya know!”

On Adobe Felix:

“As a 3D Designer I’m constantly adding new tools to my workflow and new software can be really daunting to learn (especially 3D programs), but I’m really excited about what Adobe is doing with Project Felix. The idea of a 3D compositing tool that is really approachable by removing a large bit of the complexities around 3D is smart. In doing that, they’re allowing designers to focus on what the final output will look like and less on the nitty gritty technical stuff that turns most people away from working in 3D. Felix is sort of a gateway drug to diving deeper into the 3D world – it allows you whet your appetite on what you can design in 3D with very little knowledge of having used a 3D package previously.”

Danny’s Tips, Tricks, and Parting Words of Advice:

“The Selective Color adjustment layer is crazy powerful – I use it all the time. You can add some warmth to your blacks or remove the cool hues from your whites and make them warm/creamy, or just even them out to a more neutral white. If I’m rendering something with a grapefruit in it, for example, I can add more yellow or magenta to the red channel to make it look more realistic or balance it out from the other color grading I did to the image. I’ve also been beta testing Felix for a few months and I really like the Image Based Lighting tool, it’s an easy way to create realistic shadows and reflections. I was blown away by how fast it is too! I know it’s early but I’m looking forward to see how Felix grows.”

For more from these artists, check out their social channels below:

Casey McCallister | Blog | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

Ted Chin | Blog | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Danny Jones | Blog | Instagram | Behance | Twitter | Tumblr | Dribbble

Stay tuned and join us soon for our next Creative Layover, when we’ll be spotlighting three new Photoshop artists in another great city.

Topics: Photography

Products: Photoshop, Creative Cloud