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Enhancing SL Photography, where should I go, what should I read?

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I've always been interested in enhancing my SL photography (been in game 5 years).  I'm uninterested in doing it for money since 99.9% of the time my subject is my gf.  I would like to know how to make them better.  I've been using Photoshop since probably version 2 or 3 and am somewhat good at playing with the contrast, curves, hue/saturation, lens flair and a few other tools.  I know a lot more could be learened.  Where should I look?

Raveen 06-17-11 b.jpg

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I second the liquify - that's some serious jagged mesh. Also try to shoot several pictures against green screen and compose a picture.

I would think that most ps tutorials can be used for sl pictures? http://www.flickr.com/groups/tutorialsforsl/



And this effect.... I always wanted to try it myself. But I run out of time. http://bellatrixmai.wordpress.com/2009/07/21/lucky-charm/

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  • Lindens

Some jagged edges (distinct from your avatar's polygon count) can be taken care of in advance with Antialiasing, which isn't turned on by default but should be on capable computers! As we get more advanced graphical shaders in the SL Viewer, more effects that would've previously had to be post-processed and added in are available from the outset. Such as depth of field with the new lighting and shadows, which has enabled us to get more control over focused areas.

One of my fave "unglamorous" Photoshop controls is Shadows/Highlights, which has helped save many a dull-looking, too-dark, and washed-out shot when more common features like contrast won't do.

Rick, your GF must feel really special. :) Do you have specific "looks" you're trying to recreate? Example real-life pics, even? That'd help others point you in the right direction.

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Also try Adobe Lightroom 3 . I use this application also in my rl photography. If i need to fix some part of the picture like unwanted hand position and distorted parts of the body i use photoshop to liquify and relocate some parts then after that i use Lightroom for adjusting the color and saturation although you can also do that in photoshop but Adobe Lightroom  has more control in color, saturation, clarity, color balance, and recovery of the photo (most of the time i jump back and forth between the 2 ). There is also another similar apps made by macintosh and they call it Aperture which i havent tried yet.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Lol, interesting topic, but where to start.

I haven't been doing SL photography since 2007 so I can't get you specific SL-related photography tips. I believe, though I am not 100% sure, Torley Linden had a page on wiki about SL photography? Might check that out.

What I wrote below is the workflow I use when I do photo manipulations and photography in rl. By no means you must- follow this. I don't know how familiar you are with Photoshop, but if you are new to it I would suggest you follow some tuts - especially those that are not SL related. Why? Because they learn you to take different approaches for specific situations. Google for PSDtuts+, abduzeedo, PSD vault, Photoshop Lady, Spoongraphics. They offer high quality tutorials and web roundups - all graphic design related. 

Everything you just mentioned such as curves, hue, etc, are mainly used to 'correct' your photos. In SL, when one takes a snapshot, with proper light settings, your photo already has a nice contrast, color values and all the other boring stuff.

I would say that it all depends on what you are trying to achieve. There is no written set of rules one needs to follow in order to get 'good' photo. What you can do, however, is following some guide lines.

What are you trying to achieve? Is there a certain mood you are trying to create? Does the photo needs to look realisic, almost as if its a real life picture with lots of photo realistic material in it? Will it be black and white, or in full color. There are so much things you can ask yourself before you would start with the picture. Try to get a clear idea of what you want before you actually start to work with the picture.

After you know what you want, start making preparations. Things you should know how to use:

1) pen tool. Whenever you want to extract a certain element out of another picture, use the pen tool. You should love your pen tool. Hug your pen tool. And care for your pen tool - he will be one of your biggest friends.

2) Liquify. Always, always, always liquify your models, objects or whatever that looks messed up. When you make a snapshot from a model or an object from a certain distance, it will appear with ugly edges. Use the liquify tool to get rid of the edges.

3) Liquify, again! Change body proportions by using the liquify tool. Breasts, a nose, cheeks, whatever - make your model look good. Also, try to give your model a certain expression when the situation asks for it, and while doing this know that the eyes of your model will most likely be one of the first, if not the first, thing somebody else will look at when looking at your picture. An expression gives so much more value to any photo.

4) Clone and healing brush. Because everyone looks pretty in SL, you probably won't be using the clone tool that much.

5) Blending your model into a background - light and shadows. Probably one of the hardest things to do is blending your model into a background. The pic you posted is made in SL which makes it easier. But, on this picture for example, you made a very bright background. This is good, because your model pops out and the model draws all the attention. But you also could draw a little bit of white on the bottom of the model as well to create a smooth transation and to make it all together a bit more softer. Same gooes for the edges of the model, the parts such as the shoulder and sides of the head, stomach, etc. Again, creating proper lighting in a photo is not something that is considered easy. Experment, use much layers and you will get there eventually. Another thing you could try is paitning/brushing your own shadows and highlights. To give you an idea of what i mean, on the picture you posted you can tell that the light source comes from somewhere in front of her. Not sure if this is actually true (could be standard sl lighting or baked in lighting in the skin itself, but I doubt it) but if you look at her stomach you see the light coming from a source in front of her. With this in mind - knowing where the light source is - you could paint some extra stadows to give the photo more depth. The right side of her chest, for example, and the stomach, could be darkened. Same goes for the hat and arm straps. The big black strap in the middle, for example, appears somewhat flat. Try to use the dodge tool on the middle parts of the straps. Start with a big brush and slowly build your way up with smaller brushes until you get a nice highlight which causes more depth.

6) Colors! Try to use certain colors to capture an atmosphere. For example, blue is for cold, yellow is warm, green stands for nature, etc. A quick and easy way to give your photo a nice effect is smart use of gradient maps. Assuming you are familiar with gradient maps, no need to explain this. If you would like to know more about what i mean, shout here and I will continue about this. 

7) Correction tools. Curves, levels and contrast itself, are often used to change the contrast of a picture. But keep in mind that SL snapshots are usually with a nice contrast already. You also can use the curves and lvls tools to increase/deacrease your rgb/cmyk values.

This all together is basic image editing but should not be over looked. :)

As said above, Lightroom can help you as well. Personally - but this is my opinion - I am not a big fan of Lightroom, mainly because I just like to use Photoshop for everything I do. Even though I could be wrong, Photoshop makes it feel to me as if I have much more control. But its a fact that Lightroom is used by almost every photographer I know irl, so its a matter of taste and with what you are confortable. You definatly should give it a shot if you have the chance and see how comfortable you are with it.

I hope this helped and do give a shout if you need more tips and/or have questions about something in specific.

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