Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Not that long ago I was complaining about unsolicited spam via Second Life residents… well it seemed very topical and apt that I just came across this story about people receiving a hefty fine for email spamming, under New Zealand law: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0812/S00291.htm .

What I’d like to know is how much they actually made from the spamming – and whether the money was made from people paying them to spam, or from people replying to the spam with money (or a mixture of both). I came across a far too cryptic sentence in one of the 4 or so news reports I encountered that said: “Trading under the name “Sancash”, the men are accused of sending more then 2 million unsolicited messages in a three month period last year. In that time, $1.6 million was paid to Lance Atkinson.Ā  He then paid affiliates.” Taken from this version: http://www.3news.co.nz/News/NZ-spammer-hit-with-100000-penalty/tabid/423/articleID/85305/Default.aspx?_cobr=MSN . I’m not sure how to read that, but either way you’re looking at a lot of profit, right?

I will follow the story as it progresses – which it will do considering the other parties who have chosen to take it to court – and will report on it as I hear about it here, because I know I’m not the only one who has had enough of the spam-merchants.

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Nat & Vort couple shot I took today

Nat & Vort couple shot I took today

My SL art is a constant learning experience; advanced at times by asking questions of those more experienced than me, by reading public tutorials, but mostly by personal trial and error. A new area I’ve moved into is taking pictures of couples – I currently have three sets of couples waiting for me to take their pictures. I’ve taken couple shots before but only ones I’ve posed in. After working on Vort and Nat’s couple picture today I’ve gone through the usual steep learning curve, and this is a summary of the challenges I’ve found so far:

Time: Just trying to find a time when all three people – myself and the couple – are all in-world and actually free, is a big issue. Especially if all three people are in different time zones! The best way to deal with this is for me to have them both on my friends list so as soon as I am free I can see if they’re on and contact them to get it started. Which leads of course to the next big issue: If they are both online and are in love enough that they’re wanting a couple shot, they’re also usually .. “busy”. Ah well, it’s up to them to decide their priorities. I will not though keep asking them if they are both free – after the first couple of times of asking I leave it up to them to sort the timing out.

Managing the shoot: Once you manage to actually get both people with you to the location, the next hurdle is managing twice as many people as I usually do, at the same time: Where they stand, what they wear, making them corporeal instead of a gaseous state etc. Today was challenging in that I crashed about three times and each time I came back both Nat and Vort were invisible or clouds. Thankfully both were very patient and understanding, we love patient people šŸ™‚

The third challenge of course is the post processing: Tailoring the light and tones to suit one person’s skin and clothes is something I think I’ve gotten reasonably good at, but tailoring it to two people’s divergent skin in particular, required me to go back to basics. I had to use the techniques I used to use when I started out using Gimp and hadn’t yet learnt to make the most of in-world lighting. Now I had to apply them in careful detail, trying to retain a sense of coherent origin for the light. In doing so I realised new ways I could make the most of the techniques – such as hand-applying shadows, carefully smoothing them into the desired softness and shape afterwards. Then of course there’s the issues of clearing up limbs that cross over with the other person’s that you probably didn’t notice at the point of taking the picture itself, or couldn’t alter due to the fixed nature of the pose. I am used to this to some degree already, it’s just slightly more challenging with two skin tones and twice as many limbs in play ^^

All up is was definitely an enjoyable challenge I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learnt for the rest of the couple shots. Bring it on šŸ˜€

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One of my favourite types of pictures to work on in SL are profile pictures. In one image you get to attempt to sum up a person – in the background, pose, their clothes, hair, even the font for the name. And once you’ve done one that the person likes, it ends up being displayed on their profile of course, which is a buzz.

Profile picturesĀ also need constant updating – as graphics improve, personalities change, and in-world focuses shift in their life. I change mine almost fortnightly. But not because I change who I am that often, rather because I am yet to compose a profile picture that I actually like for myself. I see it as the eternal challenge. I study people’s profile pictures and the image of the person it creates in my mind, in the endless process of trying to improve my art and the impact it has on it’s viewers.

The picture I’ve attached to thisĀ post is a recent picture I did for Simmi, I’m yet to hear back if she likes it or not, and if she doesn’t like it (or the other one I did), I’ll just do another, and another, until I produce something she’d be proud to put in her profile.

When I posted my latest pictures of Simmi I got an in-world message from anĀ SL artist I respect muchly, who gave me some tips to help me along plus a lot of praise for my work so far and my potential. She was worried I’d be offended but rather I was flattered that she looked at my pictures, saw merit and took the time out to help me in my search for perfection. (And that she did it in IM rather than on the picture itself, an issue which I’ve spoken about earlier in my blog.)

So tonight as I go to bed I am in my happy place. I had a great day taking pictures, that other people have also enjoyed, and after the latest tip I am one step closer to that elusive profile picture that I can proudly display on my own profile šŸ™‚

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I spend more time on Flickr, dealing with my SL art, than I actually spend in SL. So to some extent, the things that happen and get said in Flickr matter just as much to me as what happens in my SL life.

Recently a friend from SL joined Flickr and started looking through my pictures. He favourited some, which is great and puts me in my happy-place. And he commented and put notes on some about things he liked or found humourous in them, which is alsoĀ in the “yayness” category. But. He also critiqued a rather large number of my works. By “critique” I mean he added notes to them about things he’d have done differently, and comments about what I’ve done wrong. Such as that I should have used the thirds rule, I should have cloned, removed certain parts of the image, and so on.

Now he meant well, I don’t doubt that. But it was the wrong place to do it, misguided, and arguably cruel. And I want to explain why, because having spoken to a friend about this, apparently my view on the matter is highly contentious.

First off: “The wrong place to do it”. If you want to critique an artwork on Flickr, and the person who’s done the art has not expressly asked for or hinted at wanted critique, then the polite place to do it is via private Flickr mail rather than publically under or (even worse)Ā on the art itself. I’ve been told by another friend that Koinup provides an option you can select to say you want your work reviewed, to me that sounds like a sensible solution.

Secondly: “Misguided”. My art is aĀ constant progression. Early on all I did was take a picture and post it – no editting. As time went by I started using the inbuilt Picnic program in Flickr to edit my pictures. Eventually (much later) I started using Gimp (which is like Photoshop, but free). Even though I now use Gimp and heavily edit my pictures, there is still a lot I do not know and am constantly learning about the art of picture manipulation. Now, to look at my earlier works and say I should clone certain areas and make various other technical changes, when back then I didn’t have the skills or knowledge, and indeed the pictures are up for me to look back and realise how far I’ve come, is for the commenter to miss the point. There’s a further consideration here as well about commenting on pictures when that person wasn’t there when the picture was taken – it’s very easy to look at someone’s picture then freely comment, but they are unaware of issues like prims and other people in the shot that you’re trying to exclude when you took the shot, so “I would have done x” is not the most helpful or informed stance for a great many pictures taken in SL.

And finally: “Cruel”. For me, my SL art (as I’ve said many times to many people in many places), is my outlet. It is a very important way in which I voice unspoken emotions and unburden my stresses, it has a vital calming and relaxing influence in my life. Often my SL art is a very personal and heart-feltĀ out-pouring. Not all of it, but definitely a chunk of it. So when someone decides to tell me how I should have done my “out-pouring” differently, and adds a bunch of notes on top of it about where I’ve gone wrong, it – quite frankly – feels invasive and like an attack on my emotions and my expression of myself.

There is some art that I want people to openly critique, but I actually ask them to and in pictures that are set private for them and me only to view. I am constantly upgrading my picture skills through tutorials and experimentation, so I don’t actually need or want the average person coming along and telling me what to change, I’m already working on it, and each picture is just a record of that progression, not a claim at perfection.

The briefest of looks through other people’s comments on my and other art-works would have made clear to this person that people don’t use the comments or notes to “fix” other people’s work, but (as a general rule)to say rather if they admire it and what about it they liked, if anything.

It’s all comparative to using the comments section in this blog to “fix” my spelling and grammar. Would you do that..?

There, rant over. You may return to your usual programming.

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Funny Photoshop Dude

Ok, it’s very likely I’m the last person to discover this guy and his Photoshop tips, but my god has he got the funnies down. He even makes my husband laugh! Now as far as helpfulness goes he’s not high on the scale, especially since I use Gimp rather than Photoshop, and even more so cause I keep getting distracted by the storyline and forget to pay attention to the lesson. But if you haven’t checked this guy out, now is the time. I should warn you though, don’t check it out if you’re easily offended or dislike foul talking ^^



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