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Getting Started In SL Photography


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I've been in SL for years, and taken photos of this and that in my time.... but while I'm no skilled photographer, more a happy snapper, I'm never able to produce anything that is even halfway as realistic looking, or beautiful, as any of the photos that most on here seem to get. ..... 

So my question is, how are you all creating this magic? ...  Are there photography classes for this, that I've never found? Or are you all just photoshop magicians? ....

Due to ill health in RL I'm practically bedbound a fair bit, and mostly stuck in my house when I'm up and moving. Doing a bit of SL photography, would be a great escape for me, and be good for my mental health... And it would also allow me to show off my beloved Second Life, on my Facebook, so my feed isn't just full of me moaning about stuff, or my activity relegated to just liking peoples RL photos on their feeds, with nothing to share of my own. Lol ..... 

Has anyone any advice, or signposting to guidance for beginners, on SL photography. 

Thanks in advance.

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4 hours ago, Jinnywitha Cleanslate said:

I've been in SL for years, and taken photos of this and that in my time.... but while I'm no skilled photographer, more a happy snapper, I'm never able to produce anything that is even halfway as realistic looking, or beautiful, as any of the photos that most on here seem to get. ..... 

So my question is, how are you all creating this magic? ...  Are there photography classes for this, that I've never found? Or are you all just photoshop magicians? ....

Due to ill health in RL I'm practically bedbound a fair bit, and mostly stuck in my house when I'm up and moving. Doing a bit of SL photography, would be a great escape for me, and be good for my mental health... And it would also allow me to show off my beloved Second Life, on my Facebook, so my feed isn't just full of me moaning about stuff, or my activity relegated to just liking peoples RL photos on their feeds, with nothing to share of my own. Lol ..... 

Has anyone any advice, or signposting to guidance for beginners, on SL photography. 

Thanks in advance.

My advice would be to just photograph what you see. Do not use Photoshop (or Gimp), no tricks, just use your viewer and the windlight settings because this gives the most true to SL results.
I have been taking pics for several years now and that is how I not only started, but it's still my guideline, although I am now using in-world posing tools which I did not have before, I adjust personal lighting to my wishes, and after taking the pic (saved to harddisk at 3,840×2,032) I crop it, do a little bit of color correction and that is about it. I do not retouch it, I do not edit to add/remove things, what you see in my pics is what you would see in SL.

I would show you my pics, but... They are all topless or nude so I can't post them here. LOL

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The Photographs I take and have posted here make use of the Black Dragon Viewer, which I love and find gives me tools to improve my pictures. As with all things it is a matter of preference, but it is worth experimenting with.

You can find details here

Focus is also a very active Photography Group in Second Life and it's worth joining their group. They organize competitions and tutorials.

Unlike Fritigern I do make use of editors but generally only to adjust contrast and similar things.

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5 hours ago, Joaannna said:

The Photographs I take and have posted here make use of the Black Dragon Viewer, which I love and find gives me tools to improve my pictures. As with all things it is a matter of preference, but it is worth experimenting with.

You can find details here

Focus is also a very active Photography Group in Second Life and it's worth joining their group. They organize competitions and tutorials.

Unlike Fritigern I do make use of editors but generally only to adjust contrast and similar things.

I do use an editor nowadays, one called Darktable which is free and open source and quite powerful for color correction. It comes with many effects which affect contrast, shadow, sharpen/soften, color vibrance, exposure, etc.
Sometimes I add a smidge of vignette to give the pic more depth but I keep that effect pretty light so that it is not "in your face" and the right amount of bloom will make your highlights pop just that little bit more. With Darktable you can keep the edits as simple or complex as you like, and you don't even have to be an expert. Heaven knows I am not! :D

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It's a good question. While I'm nowhere near what some people put out, I'd say I've had a few experiences that have felt like leaps in my skill level. I've been an avid Videogame photographer for a while, so when I came to SL, I've had a base knowledge about composition and editing, a decent feel for which shots are interesting and a complete lack of knowledge about photography. In learning, I'm a bit of a lone wolf so group affairs never worked for me. Thus my early shots felt like I fake it by using heavy editing to conceal the flaws. I started seeing editing as a necessary evil and was rather grumpy and self critical about it.

My first leap was understanding that screenshots in SL are close enough to photography that the same kind of rules apply. This sent me on a binge of reading up on basic photo techniques such as Rule of Thirds or Three Point Lighting. My first attempts looked meh and still had this very raw SL look I personally dislike. But understanding some photo fundamentals improved my pictures.

My second leap was understanding that my editing wasn't cheating - but I relied on it too much. I started beginning to cut back on it. Second Life and viewers like Black Dragon could do a lot of the things that I was laboriously doing in editing - I just never had bothered to learn it. So I forced myself to learn it and for a while, images looked rough but at the same time I felt like I understood some things better. Light and shadow, ambient occlusion (!), etc.

My third leap was spending time with lighting, windlights and then EEP. More explicitly I spent it in understanding how light in Second Life works and is setup. I did this the very convoluted way by starting on a year long journey to make a tool I might one day sell or just gift away to friends - but what it gave me was a much finer understanding. It gave me fine control over where my light goes while previously I very much felt like a slave to random chance.

My fourth leap was learning camera and Depth of Field settings. This proved to be such a leap that it left me baffled. I had completely underestimated it. Gone was the extreme crisp sharpness of a virtual image I dreaded and always spent ages to conceal. I also had a lot less mistakes with distorted lenses. There's a great wiki article by Jenna Huntsman that got me started and funny enough - it once more points towards SL being much closer to photography than I assumed. https://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/User:Jenna_Huntsman/CameraLensPresets

My fifth leap then was understanding that editing wasn't evil. I began using it more actively again but in a much more controlled fashion than before. I used it to conceal clipping issues, to add a little more shadow in places and setting soft coloured highlights and accents.

Somewhere along the line, I looked back and felt like I had climbed a mountain. Out of all the leaps and changes, if I had to summarize the difference between when I started and where I am now it's these factors:

Lighting/Shadow (and Ambient Occlusion), Depth of Field (Lens Settings), these changed fundamentally how my images looked towards something I feel better about posting. I'm still way too critical about it but that's just me.

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Nearly everything I do photographically in SL has its roots in RL photography. That's not to say I dont take advantage of things that are SL specific (like messing with hover heights, facelights, EEP and graphical glitches), but having RL experience has helped me a lot... including considerable time shooting with film (mostly 35mm).

And no, I did not attend uni for snaps. Just a hack photog who is your average, neighborhood IT guy IRL. And FGS haven't sniffed a darkroom yet LOL 😆 🙂

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1 hour ago, JeromFranzic said:

Nearly everything I do photographically in SL has its roots in RL photography. That's not to say I dont take advantage of things that are SL specific (like messing with hover heights, facelights, EEP and graphical glitches), but having RL experience has helped me a lot... including considerable time shooting with film (mostly 35mm).

And no, I did not attend uni for snaps. Just a hack photog who is your average, neighborhood IT guy IRL. And FGS haven't sniffed a darkroom yet LOL 😆 🙂

You should write a guide of things that translate from RL to SL!

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42 minutes ago, PekeNL said:

You should write a guide of things that translate from RL to SL!

I suppose I should. There are SL veterans that can likely do a better job.

Right now I have to look after three elderly relatives, on top of having a day job in IT. Maybe someday, when I can devote enough time to do it well. Thanks! 

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On 9/9/2022 at 7:05 PM, JeromFranzic said:

I suppose I should. There are SL veterans that can likely do a better job.

Right now I have to look after three elderly relatives, on top of having a day job in IT. Maybe someday, when I can devote enough time to do it well. Thanks! 

Just chiming in too:

I would love to see that as well and if you ever do get around to it, please tag me so I can read it. I'm always happy to learn.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Jinnywitha Cleanslate

These are old videos but they show how to use the viewer to get amazing images. While the user interface has changed, all the settings are still around. Maybe in different places and slightly different names. But, you'll see what is possible.

https://www.youtube.com/user/colorscompletely

I think the biggest trick to getting more life like images is to shoot at hi-rez. So a 4k pic using 3,000x1500ps or more scaled down to 2048x1024px or less adds a high degree of sharpening.

It takes a bit of practice to tell what images are natural viewer snaps and which are heavily Photoshop'd. And it isn't always possible to know. Some people do awesome viewer snaps. But to get an idea take a look at Natsumi Xenga's images. Plus you can see how people edit the images. Generally perfection in the shadows is a hint Photoshop has been used.

There are plenty of new photography tutorials for SL on YouTube. Run some searches. And people have put lots of information on this forum. Unfortunately much of it is scattered around and hard to find. But look in the Photography section of Creative and search the forum on Black Dragon.

Have fun and practice will improve your skill. And ask those that post images you like. Most will answer "How did you do that?" questions.

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