Many of us have goals or aspirations we want to accomplish related to Second Life. When I began blogging, one of the things I wanted to accomplish was to improve the quality of my images. In just three short months, I’m happy to see how much my images have improved. On the left below is the first outfit I blogged. On the right is one of the pictures from this weekend.
I can’t blame the clothing, hair or skin for the lower quality of the picture on the left, and it’s obvious that I was already using a backdrop and poses for the photography, so I had already begun to pay attention to what I w as doing…so, what made the difference between “then” and “now”?
The first thing is resolution – a little trick I stumbled upon without assistance. When saving an image from Second Life, you can bump up the resolution quite a bit higher than the default (I’ve gotten it up to 6000 – 8000 pixels wide without crashing my computer). Make sure after you change the resolution that you use the reload button on the pop up image window to take the picture at the higher resolution. After you save an image at the higher resolution, those settings will be saved in your preferences (unless you switch viewers or have to ditch your local files in order to reset your preferences).
Generally, when one starts with an image at a higher pixel size and then resizes the image down in a photo editor like PhotoShop or PhotoShop Elements, the resulting image will be much more clear than one that was taken at the reduced resolution.
The second thing that helped me improve my images is optimizing Second Life settings – first the tweaks that work best to improve performance for the specific computer, and second, figuring out what additional tweaks might improve images themselves.
When I moved to the SL 2.0 beta on the Mac, I found this article by Gwyneth Llewelyn invaluable as far as improving performance. The 2.0 beta went from being far slower than the previous viewer on my Mac to performing much better than the 1.X viewer. Many of the recommendations in the article will also work with Kirsten’s S20 Viewer.
In addition, I began to research just how I could specifically tweak the settings to improve images.
I’d already been experimenting with Windlight settings based on information on the Second Life Wiki. Then, over on Juicybomb.com last month, Gogo released an updated Windlight Tutorial which really helped me as far as setting lighting and contrast.
I really felt like I needed to find a photo studio that would provide an unbroken background texture on the back and floor. My other requirements were 1) fairly low cost (while I was willing to go into the mid-hundreds, Linden wise, I didn’t want to go higher), and since I wanted to put this in my Linden Home, 2) not extremely high in prim count and 3) small enough in physical size to put in the home. I first read about the SecondSnaps Photo Studio on Margaux Dufaux’s Freebie Fasionistia’s Blog. This studio easily fits all the requirements I had, plus came preloaded with 40 different backgrounds. It’s available at XStreetSL.com and in-world.
I also began to experiment with alternative browsers. I tried Emerald, and it slowed my Second Life interaction to a crawl. Then I tried Kirsten’s S20 viewer this last weekend. I’m very pleased with this viewer, which I think brings in the best of 2.0 while still retaining some 1.X features.
There are many more tutorials and informational articles out there regarding Second Life photography. I continue to look at how I can improve the quality of my images, and hope to share with you more of what I find.