Manual Photography Settings for the Non Photographer


So, Once upon a time, my bloggidy blogger friend Kiki asked me to do a couple of photography guest posts.  She’s got zillions of readers so it spread like hotcakes and wild fires.  But I forgot to share it with my 3 readers! Hi mom!  Check them out!


Manual Photography Tips: Setting Up Your Shot


Manual Settings for Photography Explained 

Bonnie and Gabe Two Creative Birds would LOVE to have you LIKE us on Facebook!

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Posted in Endless list of photographers that inspire

Topaz ReMask with their July 50% off deal, I had to try. There’s nothing I hate more than masking hair! So is it worth it?

casey blog

TOPAZ ReMask is having an awesome deal from July 15-31! 50% off! Use coupon code “julyremask” Oh the joys of masking.  Since most of my images involve some form of compositing or another, I’m always searching for a quick fix.  Does it exist?  I hear you can send them off to China for pretty cheap, and just may have to go that route one of these days.  But in the meantime, I’ve tried so many different masking softwares that I’m starting to see pixelated hair clumps in real life too. I’m a HUGE Topaz Labs fan.  HUGE.  I use Topaz Adjust on everything I touch in some form and have for years.  My mom has bragged about using ReMask but until I saw this 50% off deal, I hadn’t gotten around to trying it out.

Let’s get to the point.

Do I love it? It’s still debatable.

Does it do a great job?  Yea, pretty great.

Stellar on the extra difficult to mask types of hair?  Eh…..Still working on that. I am very happy with how insanely quick the process is on removing less complex backgrounds.

casey blog

This literally took minutes and I’m perfectly happy with the results.

The ones that I’m feeling more frustrated with are two that I knew would be horrible beasts to conquer.

Both images are ones that are part of my Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble  series and I spent entirely too long on my originals trying to get the hair masked out.

In the end, I found a PS brush to paint some wisps back in where they were botched from doing it by hand with the pen tool and quite honestly, I think I would have to still use those wisps even with Topaz.

HOWEVER, it was night and day easier than using the pen tool or channels or a layer mask or any of the other softwares that I’ve tried.  I tried to use Perfect Mask for a month and every single time it was time to bring it back into PS, my computer would freeze and shutdown.  I definitely did not have that problem with Topaz.

canoe before canoeo hair Canoe-Finishedweb

AND….I fully expected this one to kill me because the hair and background are so similar in color.  It was the beast I expected it to be and I was a little disappointed in those results. Not terrible, but not perfect either.

chicken background chicken

I would say that overall, despite being bummed that my first attempts didn’t come out as beautifully as the tutorial’s, I am glad I purchased this bad boy and plan to use it religiously from now on.  I’m not giving up my PS brushes just yet, but I do think there may just be a learning curve and I would recommend this software in a heartbeat.

I read a few posts while trying to figure out what I was doing that called it the software you don’t need a manual for.  Only the guys that put together IKEA furniture for a living would buy that…I certainly needed a manual.  But luckily, that’s not hard to come by.

The best news is, you can try it before you buy it.  It’s DEFINITELY worth checking to see if it will work with your workflow.


Sign up to Follow my Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble series and to be the first to find out when I launch my Topaz Labs contest soon!   I’m giving away a COMPLETE Collection with all 14 of their Photoshop softwares.  I’m kinda jealous of whoever wins because I don’t even have that.  On second thought, i’m declaring myself the winner.  Contest over.  (Total lie…..I hope you’ll join in!)

HEY! Go LIKE us on Facebook.  It would mean the world to us!  And share the crap outta this post if you found it helpful!

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“Welcome To Happy”, A Blog About The Breakdown Of The First Image From Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble and Displacement Mapping Tutorials

Welcome To HappyFin



Read the full story, Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble Here.

“Welcome To Happy”

The story begins with the greatest hero known to mankind, an adventurer known as Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble.  BDAST is on a lifelong journey complete with a magical backpack that he reaches into and pulls out an adventure every day. His latest quest leads him to the desolate town of Happy, TX, the town without a frown.  Bunny quickly discovers, the town without a frown is really the town with no one around.

happy sticker

He finds a thick blanket of dirt and dust that has covered the one horse town for decades.  He slowly lifts the blanket and peeks inside, knowing that he is just the guy to bring the happy back to Happy.



When I sat down to write this story, I had been on a wild ride of adventures found in This Book Will Change Your Life with several of my quirky, life saving friends that helped me come out of a time in my life where absolutely everything had crumbled around me.  I remember looking through the pages of the book when I first got it, thinking the adventures on these pages were exactly what I was needing.  It was my own peek under a blanket of sadness that had been suffocating me for too long.



There was never a question that my main character would be based on my real life best friend Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble who refused to let me sit around and wallow and got me to get back to living like I was supposed to. (I don’t always look like a two bit tramp, but this was after a roller derby bout a million years ago.)

bunny and bon



We spent a lot of time trying on outfits for Bunny.  I wanted him to have a gypsy wandering feel and he definitely had to have a magical backpack.  Jones had a lot of say in what his costume would look like and he was excited to wear his dishdasha from Kuwait that his grandparents brought home from a trip. [No, autocorrect, I did not mean dishwasher.] The idea was to leave it at that and show his face in the images but I kept thinking something was missing.  The day we were leaving for Amarillo we stopped off to deliver a wedding album to my favorite wedding couple, Roxy and Daniel Becker.  Roxy has an obsession with foxes and when we walked in her house, there he was.  There was absolutely no doubt after seeing that mask that it was the face of Bunny.  I can’t even begin to imagine what these images would have looked like without that.  I think it is the most important element of the entire shoot.  It is definitely a reason I love how collaborating and exploring resources around me can shape the outcome of a photo shoot. Before we packed up for our trip I spent a lot of time on Facebook utilizing my resources and finding people willing to help donate props to our cause.  Budget saver for the non money haver! (That’s the technical terminology for this act.)

jones 2 jones 3 jones



When I planned this image, I knew I wanted to have it look like Happy was covered in a layer of dirt with Bunny peeking inside but I had NO idea how I was going to accomplish that.  My imagination is constantly envisioning fantastic scenes, but I am such a visual person that I truly struggle with seeing something that isn’t actually there yet.  I can have a concept, but to actually sketch it out and formulate a plan is probably the hardest part of conceptual photography for me.  Gabe and I brainstormed ideas for hours for this image.  It’s probably the one I was the most afraid of shooting because it was going to be so complicated.

I made sure to shoot it in a couple of different locations because I wasn’t quite sure how I would pull off getting the blanket to lift up above the town.  I shot it along the streets of Happy so that I could see the town below it though from what I actually shot, I realized as soon as I began working on it that it was going to take a lot of manipulating to really get what I intended.  I also shot it on a stage in the Palo Duro Canyon where the ground was more of the color I was going for with the dirt and bunny and the blanket could be raised a bit.

blanket in happy 2


Does it totally kill your vision of this epic character to know that in reality he was standing next to a man with an American flag on his crotch?

blanket in happy

Ideally each of the images in this story would have been shot on their own day where I could spend as much time as possible making them perfect, but that just isn’t the reality I created for myself with this project.  I spent months preparing for it and had every image sketched out and a detailed schedule of the week set in stone for what would be photographed when and where.  I’m not usually that detail and schedule savvy, but when you are only going to be able to visit a town for one week and your main characters are kids, you can’t shoot a few one year and a few the next year when you’re there again or the kids will be drastically older the next round.  (We visit Amarillo and the Palo Duro Canyon every summer for a family reunion.) So in the end, we shot 4 to 5 images a day and although my sweet 3 year old son Jones and my patient and incredible little cousin Hanna were about ready to kill me by the last day, they were amazing troopers the entire time.  Jones may be the only 3 year old who can handle a 12 hour shoot day in the heat and still want to wake up and do it again the next day.


I should mention, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my finished images.  Absolutely love.  But Good Freakin’ Toledos of Holiness, every single image leaves me in tears, stress, happiness, sadness with a hefty dose of freaking out before it comes to fruition.  Especially at the beginning.  It goes back to that struggle I have with seeing something that isn’t actually there so the initial placement of the things I am compositing together is always a struggle for me.  I usually place things where I think they will go, stare at it and throw things agains the wall a few times while I lose myself in the fear that I’ll never figure out how to make it look right. Luckily, Gabe doesn’t have that problem, so I married him. If you aren’t married to Gabe, I highly suggest marrying him immediately, or at least calling him and asking him to help you decide what doesn’t look right in your image.  And by the way, you can’t marry him.  So just befriend him.  He’s quite busy though, so you may just want to find your own Gabe.  I found mine at The Jet Lounge in Houston, TX, in case you want to look for your Gabe there.

first look at happy1


I set out to put this jigsaw puzzle together and started layering bits together in Photoshop and then I liquified the crap out of the sheet to get it to flow the right way. I knew that I wanted the sheet to look like it was actually made of the ground and luckily I had seen one of my good friends and favorite photographers of all time, Lindsay Adler do a tutorial on Displacement Mapping.  She used it to wrap textures on a model’s face and she’s literally the greatest Photoshop teacher I’ve ever had.  I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from her in pretty much every way she teaches….from books, in person and on Creative Live.  For anyone who ever asks me how I’ve learned Photoshop and where to start, I send them to her Creative Live tutorial.  It is literally the best investment I’ve ever made in my Photoshop education.  If I was only able to have one class to learn everything I need to know, this would be it.  Hands Down.

I also found this tutorial on Displacement Mapping that helped me get through the next steps of turning the blanket into the ground.

diplacement mapbunny

first look at happy4

first look at happy6


VOILA! Once the displacement map was in place, it started to take shape. At that point, I stopped being afraid that I was going to fail and started to see what was going to unfold.  The next thing I began to do was add in some textures.  I photographed tons of Texas Panhandle skies and have quite an arsenal now.  Thank you Texas for your wide open skies and unpredictable changing weather when I need a variety of skies!

As the story begins, Bunny has been alive and the same age for 657 years and I wanted to begin the story with a very unrealistic, colorful appearance for Bunny. He was an anomaly, visiting a sleepy town to bring his painted brilliance to their lives.  As the story goes on, Bunny subtly loses some of that color and flare and becomes more human and less cartoon.  But to achieve the crayon-ish look for Bunny I used Alien Skin Snap Art. Alien Skin has some bad ass filters and software that I absolutely love using.  I will apply a filter on a layer and then drastically reduce the opacity.  I like for each element that I add to my images to be a subtle build up.  I may apply it several times throughout the process and layer mask it off of certain areas and add it in again and again in others.  It’s all about experimenting, really, until it just ends up being right. THIS JUST IN!  ALIEN SKIN IS OFFERING MY READERS A 15% OFF COUPON CODE!  tbs0714. It’s for 15% off and will be valid until the end of the yearfirst look at happy8


I think it’s safe to say I’ve rarely had any finished image without at least using one or 12 layers of Topaz Labs, Topaz Adjust at some point in the image.  My favorite filter of theirs is Vibrance.  It really helps to enhance the color, contrast and painterly effect in my images.  I always, always, always do a dodge and burn layer with gray set to soft light (also covered in Lindsay’s tutorial) and then add in a Topaz Vibrance to top it off.  I definitely reduce the opacity of it to barely being there at all, but it adds the perfect hint of what I need to get my pop.  EVERY TIME. Topaz has a free trial period that I couldn’t recommend more. TRY IT.  Adjust has so many options that are completely customizable that it’s impossible not to love it.

first look at happy11


After layer after layer after layer of curves adjustments to bring the light where I wanted it to go, my first image in my epic journey was complete.  The pressure on this one was huge.  It was the first, which meant it set the tone for how the others would have to look.  I couldn’t possibly love the outcome more.  It pushed me to try something I didn’t know I could pull off and it gave my dream project the kick start I needed.

Welcome To HappyFin

If you like Bunny or even love his odd little self as much as I do, please help me spread the word by sharing him!  You never know who might fall for Bunny that might be able to help me achieve the next phase of my journey! I live for collaborating and helping other people achieve their dreams and have been endlessly inspired by what new friendships are able to do when it comes to making dreams come true.

PLEASE share your dream projects in the comments! You never know who might read it and how they can help you.  Stick together, my creative nutty friends.  You’ll be amazed how you can move mountains.  Or canyons as the case was in my journey!


 Don’t forget to visit Alien Skin and use our discount code:   tbs0714

Displacement Map Tutorial

Follow us on Facebook at Bonnie and Gabe Two Creative Birds! 


The Back Story

TOPAZ ReMask is having an awesome deal from July 15-31! 50% off! Use coupon code “julyremask”

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Posted in Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble

Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble: The backstory. A blog about why I don’t feel rushed to create art quickly but rather listen to what my dreams tell me to do.


My amazing husband Gabriel has found his calling making movies and is creating awesome behind the scenes videos of our journey!




You can read the story here! Please share it with the world!


Have you ever had a dream so big, so monumentally challenging that you not only knew you had to do it but also walked into it head first with absolutely no fear of not succeeding?

The no fear part is so unlike me. I fall asleep worried. I wake up worried. I watch my son trip, choke on a jelly bean, cough for no reason, get in the car….exist and im consumed with constant worry. I can’t fly without insane panic attacks. I freak out at the thought of saying hello to people I know. I have to fill my head with courage to answer phone calls. It’s safe to say I’m usually worried more of the day than not.

But here I am with a project that means more to me than anything ever has and I have goals for it that shouldn’t feel attainable in the slightest and yet as every single element of it comes to life, I haven’t had a single worry In the world that it won’t succeed.

It started with a story when I was giving up on myself. I had screwed up my life to the point of feeling completely lost. If I left my cave, it was with no direction and a tormenting level of fear of continuing to feel completely alone and as if my existence was pointless.

I don’t remember how I came across the book that would change my life, “This Book Will Change Your Life” but I know that change is exactly what it did.

Looking back on how the events unfolded now makes me believe it all happened as it was supposed to. There were some dark and hopeless times that I absolutely had to get through In order to appreciate where I am now. Everything happened just a few months before I met Gabe and before we had Jones, yet their roles in my project have been the most important roles of all as each step unfolds.

bunny mask

I think it’s important to mention this back story because essentially my project, Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble is a documentary of my feelings at that time in my life though its impossible to know that simply from reading the story or looking at the images.

I was in a time of my life where everything I did and felt lacked substance. I had no idea that I was standing on the edge of creating the exact opposite for myself and giving my life something epic to live for. I’m glad I didn’t know it at the time because the pressure might have been more than I could handle.

My entire life I have wanted to write a children’s book that meant something to me.  I have half written stories from the time I was 7 up to now.  None of them ever felt finished and none of them ever felt right.  But after diving into the adventures that This Book Will Change Your Life led me on, I sat down one afternoon and began to write.  I spent every day writing for several days as my story just came to me, exactly as it was supposed to.  When I was finished writing it, it felt perfect.  I read it to loads of people and they all seemed to love it.  I looked briefly into getting it published, but just didn’t feel the time was right to head in that direction.  About four years later on a flight home from an epic adventure, Gabe and I decided we needed to spend the summer creating an art piece that would combine our love for collaborating with other people, make a documentary and create something we could be insanely proud of.  By the time the plane landed, I had several sketches completed and knew without question, the project was going to be the next step of bringing Bunny Danger to life.

bunny danger jones

Why does all of this backstory matter?  For me it is important as I have become part of a beautiful movement of artists in the fine art photography world where many of the people I love and admire are creating incredible images daily.  They’re pumping them out at record speeds as if their minds can’t contain all of the wonder and creativity that lives inside of them.  I admire that in many of the images I see….that ability to know what you want to produce and just go out and make it happen…quickly.

But I’m not quick and I’m not in a hurry.  I can spend 6 months on one image and come back to it every day and feel stuck and unsure one moment and fall in love with it again the next.  I’ve talked to a lot of photographers who feel down on themselves when they compare their outputting of new images to the artists who can produce loads of beautiful images in a small amount of time.  They feel defeated, burnt out, doubt themselves as artists.  I think I’ve let myself feel these things for brief moments as well, but then I go back and look at each finished piece of Bunny Danger so far and I am so absolutely in love with each and every one.  It makes me realize that not being in a hurry means that I can spend as much time with an image as I need in order to nurture it into existence.

happy people



What do I want to come from this project?  In my dream world, my 20 images will be complete and my book will be published. The images themselves will be displayed in art galleries and people will know the story as they get lost staring into each images.  Someone, (secretly dreaming big that someone would be Moonbot Studios because William Joyce has always been my absolute hero when it comes to children’s books and I’ve always imagined him illustrating my story…and now I am absolutely mindblowingly enamored by what Bill and Brandon Oldenburg are doing with each film they complete.) would want to turn it into a movie and I could watch my story come to life in a vivid, lively way.  I’m saying these things out loud because if I don’t, they definitely won’t happen.  I have nothing to lose by dreaming.

In the same way that the story seemed to write itself when the time was right, the creation of the photographs themselves happened exactly when they were supposed to and each image that I’ve completed just came together when I let myself explore their possibilities.

The only thing I’ve been equipped with throughout this entire process is a dream.  No budget, no experience, no fundamental ideas of how things should go.  Just me and my dream. It’s amazing the resources that will open up for you when you let your dream consume you.

With no budget and no real plan other than knowing we were going to take a trip to Happy, Tx, the location where Bunny Danger takes place, we suddenly found ourselves lucky enough to have a student film maker, Jameson Young and his brother Zander who were completely willing to put their summers in the hands of a couple of lunatics who wanted to embark on a project that may or may not go anywhere in the end.


I’m thankful every day for the creative family I married into.  It takes as little as mentioning an idea to get Gabe’s energy ignited and his talented younger brother Anthony is of the exact same mindset.

happy bank canyon bunny danger awesome slash trouble ant

I can’t even imagine how different this project would feel if I hadn’t been fueled by their willingness to help me make this happen.  Their enthusiasm helped my desire to make this journey unfold as big and beautifully as possible.



There’s a reason my story took place in Happy, TX.  Several reasons really.  By looking at Happy, TX from the outside, you see a pleasant little town that was once full of life but has since become a run down dilapidated place, seemingly void of life.This is exactly how I was feeling about my own life when I wrote my story.  Many years ago, my friend Meredith and I drove through Happy and it left us in fits of hysteric laughter for many years.  The town without a frown was known to us as The Town With No One Around.  It always stuck with me as an important place where we discovered a lot about ourselves and our friendship and was the first place that came to my mind when I needed a location for Bunny.

happy sticker Happy Tx friends texas happy dilapidated

In my story, Happy has lost it’s joy and Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble goes on a quest to help Happy find its happy. When we started filming in the run down little town, the people who lived there (we were actually shocked to discover that people actually DO live there) came out to not only see what we were up to, but also to help collaborate with us.  These beautiful people showed us that underneath the dust and rubble there truly did live a town full of life and wonder.  The parallel between this reality, my story and my own personal feelings inside myself assured me that Happy, TX is exactly where my story was supposed to take place.


I’m in love with every moment of making my dream project come to life.  If knowing that I dove into this with as few resources as possible inspires even just one other person to jump in and do something that feels impossible, then THAT is why I wrote this post.

Stay in touch with me to find out the breakdown of each of the images as they come out!  PLEASE link YOUR dream projects in the comments!  I would love to check them out!

Other Posts about Bunny:

Welcome To Happy, The first image breakdown

Follow us on Facebook or at our fine art website here!

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Keep It Simple and GET TO THE POINT with all your 365 Day Photo Projects!




365 Day Projects.  I can’t relate.  I can barely brush my teeth 365 Days a year, much less finish a project every freakin’ day.  I didn’t truly see the point in why other people did them either other than to get more action directed to their work….until I was talking to my good friend Josh Malik about why he was about to embark on a 365 Day project that seemed insanely challenging to me.  Not only would he create an image every day, but they would all come with a story attached, which is something I feel is the most important part of every image I work on.  But it was his reason that really affected me.  He wanted to improve.  Josh is one of my favorite artists of all time and his work is incredibly inspiring and breathtaking.  I found it even more inspiring that while already putting out work of his caliber, pushing himself to be even better and even more in tune with his style was at the top of his list of what is important to him.

While he was telling me about this epic plan, I was eating a fortune cookie that said, “Keep it simple and get to the point.”  I immediately knew I needed to pay homage to his project that was anything but simple with this picture.  Luckily he was on his way to Texas to visit for our art show at BeHUMAN Gallery and for filming a pilot episode for our show Creator’s Blok and we were able to make this happen.  I did everything BUT keep it simple in making this image, although it looks pretty simple.  I am thankful for the mob of assistants I had from the Be U show that followed us out in the rain to help us make this image possible!  Unfortunately it was probably the only 15 minutes we didn’t film that weekend but it’s definitely a memory etched in my mind!

Keep making it look simple Josh! I’m loving watching your imagination unfold! Make sure to follow Josh to keep up with his insanity of awesomeness! 


KIS in progress web


Thanks to Stacy Smith Tarbox and Crystal Olivero for sharing some of their real life snow with me for this image and to Manuel Estheim for finding the snow prints for me here! 


Thanks to Rocio Mirelis and Samantha Goss for getting great behind the scenes shots from that day!

kis samantha1

KIs Samantha




KIS rocio

KIS behind the scenes2


KIS behind the scenes1

KIS Behind the scenes

Follow Bonnie and Gabe Two Creative Birds on Facebook or our portrait website at and our conceptual photography site at You can see how we do what we do and why we do it on our Framed Episode!

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Posted in Photographers that Inspire, Spotlight for Inspiration

How to get out of your miserable funk in 365 Easy Steps. A blog about how a Book Really Did Change My Life and Hopefully Some Great Conceptual Photography Tips Too.


Step 1:

Recognize that one man’s survival steps are another man’s list of captain obvious suggestions like: Look in the mirror and give yourself positive affirmations.

This is not that list.

Step 2:

Go out and get the book, This Book Will Change Your LIfe

This book will change your life.

Step 3:

When it arrives from Amazon, don’t let it sit there on the shelf. Gather your friends and get to it.

Enough with the steps.  I’m no pysch expert, but what I do know is that after a mega life transition that left me (enter super dramatic movie announcer voice over here) lost, alone, freaking the F out scared and starting over, ONE GIRL (me) decided to take matters into her own hands.  (Technically, I took matters out of my own hands and into the hands of the book.)

What is this magic apparatus you ask?  DId this girl even spell or properly use the word apparatus you ask?  She (me) asks that too.  (Not what it is, but if the word was necessary at all….)

It’s a book full of daily ridiculous adventures that set me off on a course that would change my future for the better.   I’m talking the most ridiculous things you could ever imagine doing.  My roller derby wife and I, Carmen Geddit decided to do as many adventures as we possibly could.  Pretty soon, I was meeting random people I never would have met otherwise, writing on trains, following directions to nowhere.

weapons walk pancake meet people graffiti


I definitely didn’t do all of the book’s adventures.  Some of them are just TOO out there.  But I did do enough that pretty soon, I wasn’t just living in my cave feeling sorry for myself anymore.

Eventually, the book changed my life enough to make me write a story about it.  Sort of.  The following story is based on true events despite how unreal it sounds.  However, completely fabricated at the same time. Basically I was so inspired by some of the crazy things that I did on these adventures, I wanted to create something memorable to remind me how I overcame one of the most depressing periods of my heartbroken, dreary existence.

My story was written with kids in mind but hopefully with enough wit that grown people will actually enjoy reading it with their kids. (Click the link to read the full story)

Bunny DAST

One of my best friends Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble (his real name) became the hero of my story as well as my life.  After writing my story, I sat on it for several years, knowing one day I would know what to do next in the process of getting it out there.  Five years later, I knew what I needed to do.

The Real Bunny:


Last summer my husband, son and a film crew set off to Happy, TX to document the journey of bringing my story to life through conceptual photographs.  You can see some of the action here on our Framed Network episode.

For the past year, I’ve been working on developing each photograph and will hopefully, one day, all 20 images that we shot will be complete.  It has taken me a year to complete the first 5 and I’m excited to be finishing up number 6 as we speak.  Each image has been insanely complex, and my hope is to create a post to show some before and afters, helpful tips and how to’s on how I created many of these images.

I have my “BIG IDEA DREAMS” in mind for what I really want to come out of this endeavor in the end, but I’m definitely open for creative ideas and input.  So if you (probably just my mom will read this) have any connections, thoughts, advice or trillion dollars that you’d like to impart on me on how to get this bad boy published and out there when it’s complete, I’m always open to the suggestions.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll follow my journey and I promise to try (doesn’t that mean if I don’t follow through, i didn’t break any real promise since my promise was just to TRY) to fill it with things that might help inspire your creative soul as well as give you tips on what works for me with conceptual photography!

“Introduction to Happy” Post to come soon….



Chicken Introduction Post to come soon…



First Peek Post to come soon with how I edited it video.




First Peek In the Bag Post to come soon…




Birds Can’t Fly Post to come soon….




As I complete images, I’ll add them here but will also make individual posts about each one with before and afters and photoshop/shooting tips.

Thanks for sticking around and joining my adventure with Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble!

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Posted in Bunny Danger Awesome Slash Trouble

Enless List of Photographers that Inspire: Handy Andy Pandy

The Man behind the lens

The Man behind the lens

*yes, I can spell endless.  no, I cannot change it now because the link would be broken FOREVERRRRRR.  I can also spell forever.

Handy Andy Pandy- a photographer guaranteed to take you on a wild adventure. *Disclaimer-I can only guarantee the adventure to be while you look at his work and cannot vouch for a direct invitation from him to take you on an actual-in-person adventure, however, I am fairly confident he would say yes if you invite yourself.

As is becoming the case these days with the [fa]fine art photography Facebook group multiplying like creative infused-hormone breeding mice, I found HAP posting his insane 365 project on the walls of the group.

Handy Andy Pandy collage

Handy Andy Pandy page 2

His work is pure genius.  I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen if I had a moment to crawl inside his ginger-haired mind and look around.  He has more ideas than Montana has snow flakes.

Handy Andy Pandy Thirst Handy Andy Pandy Portraits

Handy Andy Pandy Photography way of life macro lens

From his vivid colors to his stellar use of Photoshop, he is a creator of the utmost sort.  I always thought the British made a good choice shipping those convicts over to Australia  and time and time again, it is proven that they sent the most hilarious and creative felons to procreate and produce future a nation of artistic masterminds.  Most of my favorite artists hail from Oz and Handy Andy Pandy is no exception.

Handy Andy Pandy Newspapers Handy Andy Pandy into another dimension inspired by aaron nace

Aside from being a brilliant artist, he is also a top notch writer.  If you are someone who enjoys wallowing in your own depression, I do not recommend reading his blog or interviews, because you will be catapulted out of your misery within minutes.

But even more exciting is the fact that he has just announced that he will be writing for F Stop Lounge with a weekly column. He is by far one of my favorite writers out there.  I am glued to his posts waiting for his next hysterical interview and highly recommend that you do the same.

Handy Andy Pandy f stop lounge two Handy Andy Pandy F Stop Lounge

Gabe and I are always drawn to other artists who thrive on sharing and collaborating, which is probably why I am so enamored with this crazy man and his work.

In his own words, yes, you’re hearing them here first:  “Reach out to other photographers, say hi, send an email to people whose work you admire. Connect. You’ll find almost everybody is just as friendly as you are, even the ones whose work is so amazing it intimidates you.”

as well as…..

“Andy doesn’t bite and LOVES to meet new people, so say hi!” so visit him on Facebook and tell him Two Creative Birds sent you to say hi! (visit us and say hi while you’re at it.)

Handy Andy Pandy I love lamp

Handy Andy Pandy’s Blog

Handy Andy Pandy’s Portfolio

Handy Andy Pandy’s Google +

Handy Andy Pandy’s Flickr

Who Inspires You? We want to feature artists that you love too!

If you have a photographer that blows you away, send us an email at


1. Name and links to find the artist.

2. Links you would like us to promote about you so that we can give you credit for finding the artist.

3. Any information you want us to include about why you are inspired by this artist.  (You don’t have to include this, but it may mean a lot to that photographer to know why you thought of them!

The spirit of this project is about being inspired by others and sharing that with the world. So please don’t nominate yourself!  You can always have someone else nominate you if you think you should be on our Photographers that Inspire list! 


You can view the original list of  31 Days of Photographers that Inspire! And keep up with our endless list by visiting our Photographers that Inspire table of contents. 

Follow Bonnie and Gabe Two Creative Birds on Facebook or our portrait website at and our conceptual photography site at You can see how we do what we do and why we do it on our Framed Episode! 

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How to write an artist statement

The Elephant In The Room BeU Opening Day Image
Artist Statement Writing Exercise
By Gabriel Al-Rifai
The Elephant In The Room BeU Opening Day Image

If your Artists Statement stands between getting in or not getting into a gallery show, but you stand behind your artwork, then use your favorite portfolio piece to guide you.

Think of your Artists Statement as the one piece in your portfolio that you covet the most. You may or may not be openly proud of it. You may have even hated it at certain points during the shoot or while you were editing it, but there’s no doubt that you are proud of it.
Use the Rule of Three.
Begin by choosing one of the following 2 constructions:
A. In 3 well constructed sentences OR,
      (use if you’re not big on long chattery conversations)
B. In 3 eloquently descriptive paragraphs
      (use if you love to talk)
Then, answer each of the following three questions about your favorite image in the construction format you chose above:
1. Why did you make the peice? If you feel like your reason isn’t very poetic, then think of when and why you were attracted to taking your pictures into photoshop. This is your inspiration.
2. What did you originally hope to gain from experimenting with photography and post processing and how has that affected you as a person. i.e. is it therapeutic. Is it a sense of identity. Is it a way to be yourself or be by yourself. This is your motivation.
3. What technical, emotional, and aesthetic attributes do you want people to notice about your favorite piece. What do you want them to feel? This might be your objective or simply the response your art consistently evokes.
Now go back and remove the content that points to your image as the topic and replace it with content that describes you as an artist.
Use this as the framework for your Artist Statement and then do some research and compare. I hope this helps.
-Gabriel Al-Rifai
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Endless List of Photographers that Inspire: Killy Photography


How important is it to understand light when you’re a photographer? According to today’s photographer that inspires, Killy Photography, VERY.


The ol’ “I’m a natural light” photographer debate.  Not that natural light means you don’t know what you’re doing, but when I was “natural light”…..I didn’t know what on earth I was doing.  The further I got into learning photography, the more light became essential.  Now, even when it’s natural, I’m damn sure trying to control it to my advantage.  Anyone else cringe to look back at your old photos from ye olden days of noviceness?

Probably not Killy.  That’s the first thing I noticed about this portrait guru.  He digs light.  He digs it, he gets it, he uses it, he makes it work for him and it’s unbelievably evident in all of his portraits.  Whether it’s natural light, studio light, iPhone light….Killy is clearly paying attention to his light and if you really take the time to study where he lets it fall, it’s incredibly inspiring.  I know I will be making sure to pay even more attention to what I’m doing…even on my just for fun of the fam shots.

When you look at these images, look deeper than the surface.  Really notice where the light hits his subjects vs. where the shadows are allowed to be.  Notice how he finds light sources in unexpected places. light light 3 light 6

light 4 light7 light5 light2 light 10 light 9 light 8

The other thing that really drew me in to Killy’s work is the expressions he pulls from the soul of his subjects.  I’m sharing more images than normal on this post because I really want you to see the range and diversity of depth that he goes into with each image.  From the light to the expressions, he is giving us an insight to what every single person he immortalizes with this camera is thinking in that moment.  He’s not just giving us a lovely shot to look at.  He’s freezing time in a way that captures these people’s essence.  I don’t have to hear them speak to feel their voice.  I don’t have to know their back story to feel where they are going or where they have been. The expressions he catches aren’t accidental and to understand the art and science that go into such intense photographic storytelling is something we should all strive to learn.

expression Halo House Gala 2013 expression 4 expression 5 expression 6 expression 7 expression 8 expression 10 expression 11 expression 12 expression2

Inspired himself by Richard Avedon who I highly suggest clickin’ the link to see, Killy has started a project to shoot on white backgrounds.  He’s two subjects in…with only 98 to go..and I know I’m going to be following to find out who’s next.


There’s just something about Killy that reminds me to keep shooting what I want to shoot….not what I have to and to slow down and truly pay attention to every important element and detail.

Killy.  He’s a thinking man’s photographer.

PLEASE for the love of photography go LIKE his Facebook page.  Clearly the man needs to bump that dinky little number up.

The real goods can be found on his website, blog and Flickr. Filled with loads of info on what he uses to light scenes… don’t wanna miss that!

Who Inspires You? We want to feature artists that you love too!

If you have a photographer that blows you away, send us an email at


1. Name and links to find the artist.

2. Links you would like us to promote about you so that we can give you credit for finding the artist.

3. Any information you want us to include about why you are inspired by this artist.  (You don’t have to include this, but it may mean a lot to that photographer to know why you thought of them!

The spirit of this project is about being inspired by others and sharing that with the world. So please don’t nominate yourself!  You can always have someone else nominate you if you think you should be on our Photographers that Inspire list! 


You can view the original list of  31 Days of Photographers that Inspire! And keep up with our endless list by visiting our Photographers that Inspire table of contents. 

Follow Bonnie and Gabe Two Creative Birds on Facebook or our portrait website at and our conceptual photography site at

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Endless List of Photographers That Inspire: Pecos Hank


In no particular order: Photographer, Musician, Storm Chaser, Snake Wrangler, Visionary.

This article could be titled, “Endless Inspiration from a Photographer,” but Bonnie says that it will mess with our analytics. As working artists, one of the most enjoyable fruits of our labor is discovering people’s stories. Especially when an acquaintance, whom I knew as the frontman for The Southern Backtones, turns out to also be an established storm chasing, adrenaline gobbling, mucho talented photographer. Fine artist? Hell ya! I’d like to think that Hank Schyma, who’s photography alias is, Pecos Hank, has been living the artist  life since before he was alive. Well, since before I was alive anyways (I think he’s has a few years on me). But given that, it took nearly 30 years for me to gather up the courage and discontinue a career with a suit and tie requirement. And by courage I mean laid-off. As well as my fountain-of-inspiration & wife, Bonnie Al-Rifai, who’s invitation to consider teaming up to make a living as photographers, allowed me to dream while not sleeping. Now that I’m wide awake and facilitated by a build up of unmanaged creativity as well as battery acid-like caffeine), I look forward to meeting photographers with interesting back stories. It’s ironic to get re-acquainted with Hank whom I originally connected with through the Houston music scene, and then to find out that he’s a black-belt natural & un-natural disaster photogrpaher is freagin awesome.


9.-Storm-Hole 35.HankSchyma-funnelswirl.SM_ 17.Dodge-City-Orange-MammatusBonnie & I went to his art show a couple of weeks ago and just like his photography, the “art show” titled, Night Circus”, was really an art explosion of epic proportions. We’re talking, three floors, a stage, and a heavy duty, cable supported, trapeze-like rope, of enchanting oddities that I legally cannot describe further. Ok, everything was perfectly legal, but I’ll just say that you had to have been there . . . . . Mermaids!. . . . that’s the last thing I’ll say.Trip15-Wild-Horses4

Storm-Pony 12.Trans-Pecos-Rat-Snake 1.Western-Diamondback-Rattlesnake stinkbug0186

Check out In addition to finding truly inspiring photography you’ll also find his refreshingly hilarious BLOG as well as show dates for one of my favorite Houston bands, SouthernBacktones, and other cool stuff.

Who Inspires You? We want to feature artists that you love too!

If you have a photographer that blows you away, send us an email at


1. Name and links to find the artist.

2. Links you would like us to promote about you so that we can give you credit for finding the artist.

3. Any information you want us to include about why you are inspired by this artist.  (You don’t have to include this, but it may mean a lot to that photographer to know why you thought of them!

The spirit of this project is about being inspired by others and sharing that with the world. So please don’t nominate yourself!  You can always have someone else nominate you if you think you should be on our Photographers that Inspire list! 


You can view the original list of  31 Days of Photographers that Inspire! And keep up with our endless list by visiting our Photographers that Inspire table of contents. 

Follow Bonnie and Gabe Two Creative Birds on Facebook or our portrait website at and our conceptual photography site at

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