Face lights: Theory, correct usage and making of face lights

This conversation has been coming up a lot lately, so I thought that I would write about it. The use, misuse and full understanding about lighting in Second Life, mostly as applies to facelights and etiquette, but can also be applicable to photography. Why do people wear so many bright facelights with a tremendous radius? I suspect it’s simply because they don’t understand the inner-workings of how Second Life works, as well as not really having been informed as to what the social impact is. It’s NOT an all or nothing thing, we don’t need to go on a witch hunt, we simply need to make a bit of knowledge available. That’s what I’m hoping this article will provide.

Note: All of these images are clipped from the top, hiding the menus. This was the result of batch processing without thinking. It was also a quick and convenient way of hiding personal information. Hopefully, the location of all relevant menus that are pulled down can be discerned when comparing to your own client. Additionally, some of the screen shots are messed up with odd bits such as lines and double title tags. You can thank my video card for that. It does that when taking snaps with the UI turned on. Sorry about that.

Facelights are a two edged sword

On one hand we want to enhance the appeal of our avatar, to see it in dark conditions and to generally highlight our best features. The pros and cons: The Pro side will make comments like this: “I just want to look nice, and remove the harsh edges from my AV”, “The lights enhance my look”, “Everyone tells me I need a light, so I got one.”.

The Con side might say something like this (copied near-verbaitim from unidentified freebie face light merchants): “Ever sit in a dark place, enjoying the scenery or perhaps a particle show, when someone with a facelight geared for disturbing fauna several miles away walks in and spoils the scene?”, or “I made this due to seeing some horrible facelights, so here you are, a face light that lights your face and chest and not the whole area…”

While it’s true that a facelight can really enhance your look (I often use one personally, and as a photographer, I use them constantly!). The trick is to use the facelight in a manner that in fact enhances your look, that doesn’t wash it out, or blind others. We want to make the best use of our light that we can without being light spammers.

Witness one of the very many examples that were the inspiration for this article. We shall name our subject Facelight Fanny.

Fanny shows us that people with mis-used lights DO exist. This is in the daytime, and her light overpowers the sun

Fanny shows us that people with mis-used lights DO exist. This is in the daytime, and her light overpowers the sun

That is not Chernobyle, that's Facelight Fanny! Note that in this scene, there are no chirping crickets. They've been cooked at 20 meters away by Fanny's facelight

That is not Chernobyle, that's Facelight Fanny! Note that in this scene, there are no chirping crickets. They've been cooked at 20 meters away by Fanny's facelight

Other that turning off the lights that belong to a build, other avatar’s lights and splashing them with an overly powerful light, there are other disadvantages, such as
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New Series: An Elven Journey

Got inspired to do a series that focussed on trying to create some sort of a story that was emotionally based. It’s not very planned, most of my bright ideas come from when I’m in the middle of something. It started of as a neat pic that eventually became a study in composition (I don’t have *real* photographer training, so I have to teach myself. So, I hope you enjoy it, feel free to leave comments.

See An Elven Journey on my Flickr account..

An Elf trudges though the snow, bow in hand.

An Elf trudges though the snow, bow in hand.

SL Pure Photography Flickr Group is born!

I’ve created an open group on flickr.com for pure Second Life photography. Here is the group’s charter.

About Second Life Pure Photography

The mission of this group is to raise the bar on Second Life photography, to really push our vision, skills and technique in taking in-world photographs. It is to entice, challenge and celebrate Second Life artistic photography that is "pure", meaning that it has zero post processing beyond cropping for aspect ratio and resizing. We want to raise the bar on Second Life photography.

Inspired by the Best of the Best Second Life photography group, we will be limiting this pool to an as-of-yet undefined number of photographs of the very best, most stunning and realistic photos possible, using The Way of the Purist. Probably 1000, and each will have to compete for it’s place.

When you post an image, tell us HOW you did it. Give us the specifics of the implementation of the technique so that we can reproduce your effect. Some people may fear giving away what they consider to be a secret. Consider it otherwise: you are demonstrating your skill and originality and crediting yourself as someone who is learning and moving beyond the common screenshot. Each thing you learn, share and teach raises your status as a photographer.

While we are very impressed by the creativity and technical skill that so many here posess in using image editors to retouch images, none of these images will be accepted. These are better suited to digital art groups. Filters, effects, cloning, blurring or any other technique used to enhance a photograph that was not 100% generated in-word and taken as-is will be disqualified. It if wasn’t generated in your client, it doesn’t fly, and sadly we will disinclude it from the pool.

This group may have artful nudes, but consider that if you wouldn’t want your neighbour to show it to your 5 year old daughter, this is probably not the place for it.

FAQ to come.

I have not yet put the final details in place, but, for the moment it’s there. I look forward to seeing how people push the envelope and the challenges to my own sense of vision of skill. Let’s have fun and learn!

SL Pure Photography Flickr Group can be found here.

They called it “Home”

Image of a young female cyborg on a ship, deep in space, overlooking the planet Earth

Image of a young female cyborg on a ship, deep in space, overlooking the planet Earth

When I create a look for an avatar, there’s always a compulsion to find just the right environment to fit it in, or (pun fully intended) to make it look like it’s at home in it’s environment. This is a stunning sim that seemed to suit the purpose. Throw in a little windlight to add the mood: dark enough to make it feel as lonely as space, backlit to create the sense of space and yet enough to illuminate the model’s features.

At first I thought that Windlight would be difficult to master. It’s not. I should start writing a Windlight post or perphaps a series of tutorials to inspire me to deepen my undertanding of it.

I sure do love Second Life!

A reminder of Luis Royo

Image of a female cyborg amongst the ruins of Midian City

Image of a female cyborg amongst the ruins of Midian City

This is a very Luis Royo image to me. Beauty, ugliness, apocalypse, culture. No matter how I set my graphic card’s settings, however, I just was not able to get rid of the anti-alising on her hair. That’s annoying. Not my best work, but who said that a picture has to be perfect to evoke emotion and imagination?

Oh who am I kidding? This was an excuse to experiment with Windlight, me having just acquired a video card. /End confession.

Windlight experiment at The Far Away

I often spend time just practicing the getting the right shot. Since I’ve just recently gotten a new video card for my machine, today’s experiment involved playing with Windlight for the first time. It’s deep, rich and scary! And I can see that as of now it’s an absolute must-master skill for those to aspire to be the best SL photographers they can be.

Clear blue water at AM Radio's The Far Away

This particular image uses the Costal Afternoon lighting and the Clear water setting. I wanted to balance the lovely gold of the field, matching the dresse’s red with the light umber light of the afternoon and the clear blue of the sky. I like the way it turned out, but in the future, I’d like to have a better understanding of how to edit the sky. Compare this with the default blue water.

Default blue water at AM Radio's The Far Away. Provides a stonger contrast/horizon

Default blue water at AM Radio

This was taken at AM Radio’s The Far Away. AM is a master of creating sims that are deep and rich, and emotionally evocative. Some people’s sims are a testament to their building ability, other’s their vision and creativity. AM’s are simply the kind that speak little and evoke a quiet stirring in our soul.