Uh-oh, It’s Firestorm Phototools Time…

So a couple of people have asked me to do something about how they’re not sure what to do with phototools and I seem pretty confident playing with them.
I’m going to walk you through the VERY basics in this blog post, and I would love love LOVE hearing from you about what you’d like me to delve deeper on.

This is a photo I took a while ago- back in February, the upload date tells me.
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It bears note that I did not touch it with Photoshop: I’m including it as an example of the sorts of effects you can pull off with phototools if you take the time. Now that I’m getting a bit of a handle on using Photoshop, I feel like I could have done SO MUCH more with this, but imagine having this as your starting point in editing with Photoshop. It’d be handy to let the viewer do a lot of the work for you, right?

Let’s look at some of the Phototools settings available using Firestorm or Singularity viewers. I’m going to be working on a PC with Firestorm here: Singularity uses most of the same shortcuts, and has most of the same functionality. On a Mac you’ll wanna use the Apple key (if memory serves) instead of the Control key.
So here’s where we’re starting out: mid-range graphics settings, no bells and whistles. This is just me, sitting in a chair, hum de hum…

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Nothing bad, but nothing very exciting, right? Let’s go deeper… Continue reading

Random SL Photo discovery

Today I learned that the annoying stepped edge on shadows is all about an advanced setting.

I went into the Phototools menu in Firestorm today, playing around with posing a photo, and got very cranky with the way the shadows were rendering. I mean, really, look at this:

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Uggggh.  All those… raster-y stepped edges, and the shadows not meeting the object casting them.  Why does it do this? WHY DOES SL HATE ME???

I went through the pop-up text on Firestorm’s Phototools ‘Lights and Shadows Settings’ menu bit by bit by bit, and found this on FOV Cutoff:

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This determines the FOV cutoff at which the viewer will switch between ortho instead of perspective projection.  If you are getting shadows that are ‘jaggedy’ try adjusting this setting for improvement.  Also adjusting the XYZ values for the debug setting RenderShadowSplitExponent can be VERY helpful.

I played a bit with FOV Cutoff there, then went into the Advanced menu for the debug settings.  I dug up the RenderShadowSplitExponent setting and found that my X was 3.0… my Z was 2.0… and my Y was 65.0?!?
Resetting the Y to 5.0, I found that suddenly my shadows looked like this:

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Well that was easy, wasn’t it?

Figured that someone might find that helpful, so- enjoy!

Coming back to this one after a while, I notice that there’s something I learned that hasn’t gotten in here.  I talk about a specific set of numbers in the above post: ‘I dug up the RenderShadowSplitExponent setting and found that my X was 3.0… my Z was 2.0… and my Y was 65.0?!?  Resetting the Y to 5.0, I found…’
Further playing around with this has taught me that Y varies dramatically depending on what the angle of the sun/moon is in comparison to the shape you’re shining the light on.  Since the jagged edge is from transitioning not often enough from one type of perspective to another, sometime, you may find that a Y of 65 IS RIGHT (disclaimer: I haven’t found that yet).  I would say ‘play with the Y number, and see how it affects your shadows’.

The Long-Promised Depth of Field tutorial (Part 1 of ?)

OK, so for months and months now, I’ve kept threatening to do a tutorial on how to use Depth of Field.  People like the way I use it, apparently: I have to admit I’ve pulled off some stuff with it that I really can’t believe I did without using Photoshop.  All the pics in this tutorial were done using in-viewer post-processing.  I didn’t do anything outside of my viewer except for cropping them.

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First off, what IS depth of field?  I grabbed this pic as a good example for talking about what it is, and how it works. Continue reading

We are the Hollow Men.

So I went browsing around for things to spend lindens on a few nights ago, and came up with… the Robin (Sojourner) Wood gacha at Oh My Gacha!, which is named ‘Manny’.  Manny is a little mannequin, of the sort an artist might have on his desk to draw from.  He’s cute! He’s rare! He’s debonair like Fred Astaire!

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He’s resizeable! He’s bright! He sheds a light!

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And of course, when he closes his eyes and contemplates the wheel of dharma, he’s mystical.

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If you need Manny in your own home, visit the OMGacha fair and look for the Robin (Sojourner) Wood gacha there.  More information on OMGacha is here!

Who knows who wrote that song of Summer, that blackbirds sing at dusk?

This is a song of color.
I think we all have a favorite color for the sky.  Some people like the bright gaze of the sun to warm their skin, to tan their skin: some others have been one acquainted with the night.
I’ve always liked the time in between.  The night’s gathered up her skirt and while she’s still on the horizon in the west, the sun is making himself known — even though he has yet to rise in the east.

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And in between the two, not the bright blue that the sun trails and not the blackness that makes the moon so crisp, there’s my favorite color.  It’s a vibrant, iridescent blue… and I finally found it on a windlight setting.
It’s interstitial: that point between day and night, between sleep and waking, between warm and cool.  A blue that promises that what’s to come will be different than what was. 
RL, I grew up in an area deeply contaminated by mercury arc lights, which wouldn’t matter save that there’s also almost always low clouds or fog at dusk, which makes it… difficult to see the color of the sky as day becomes night.
And who the hell wants to be up at dawn??
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Even laying awake in bed to stare at a skylight and watch night turn to indigo turn to cerulean turn to sky, there’s still something less than terrific about mornings, to me.  It’s probably just my own problem.
Natural light, though, there’s so many different colors, aren’t there? There’s the greenish haze one sees on a still summer’s day, there’s the reddish hues of sunset, there’s the blazing yellow of dawn: what’s your favorite color? Why is it your favorite: is there another color that’s as good?

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I guess part of what I like about this color, this interstitial blue, this #11259E (as HTML calls it), is that promise of change, of shifting and differentiation.  I like how it wraps itself around the first star one might see in the night, or how it sets off the bright jewel of Venus on the horizon in the morning.
I like how it seems so bright and vibrant despite the fact that it is so dim and dusky.
I like that it’s between: not-this and not-that.

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I like how in the dusky closeness of our homes at this hour we feel safe, isolated and separate from the vibrant promise of this color, even though this color only promises… change. 
I like how it inspires me to jabber on pointlessly, too.

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It’s been a pleasant day RL, and finding the twilight blue color in windlight settings was quite a pleasant bit of serendipity.

The house in these photos is Barnesworth Anubis’ ‘industrial loft’, available at Collabor88 for L$388.  The multibulb fixture that hangs in front of the fireplace is from Circa, and costs L$188. You can visit Collabor88 for yourself, and pick up either- or see what else they’re offering!

A visit to the Mens Dept

So the Mens Dept opened today, and I figured I would put together an outfit using a couple things from there.  Here’s the Remarkable Oblivion hat named ‘Paragon’ in black, and the Aitui ‘Layered Jacket’ in black.

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Here, get a closer look at the hat:

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Both jacket (which comes with the shirt!) and hat are at Mens Dept: jacket’s L$199 and the hat, if memory serves, is L$100.  Enjoy!

Mens Dept

How Not to be a Jerkwad On Halloween

My, I haven’t said anything here in a while, have I?
I’ve been seeing a lot out there in the intertubes about racist Halloween costumes, this year.  Now, there are some that simply stagger the mind out there (I will not be linking to the trio who decided that it was in good taste to dress up a white guy in blackface as Treyvon Martin, and have him go around with someone meant to represent George Zimmerman, but if you want to throw up in your mouth a little, you know where the search button is on your browser).  Continue reading

We say that we’re in love

while secretly wishing for rain
sipping coke and playing games-

September’s here again
September’s here again…
David Sylvian, ‘September’
I’ve always been fond of the tail end of September, the dog-end of summer.   Where I live RL it’s always the warmest part of the year, and so people tend to go all out with the summer festivities that we don’t do when it’s the ‘height of summer’- when it’s actually, er, kind of chilly.

I like the dregs of summer, the ‘Indian summer’, as people tend to call it, that we get here.  I find them sort of rejuvenating, really: just a little last hurrah before the rainy season starts and the cold winds start to blow down out of the Arctic.

Conveniently, Calas Galhadon has reopened, just in time for me to model a pair of the stylish knee-length breeches that Schadenfreude has out at Collabor88 somewhere rather like where I went for a wander yesterday evening… Image

And Halloween’s right around the corner.  Happy Autumn, everyone!

Linky goodness, and no photos for a change

So I stumbled across this earlier tonight and thought I needed to share it.

And no, I am not looking for a partner in SL.  But I figured many of us who dink around with photography in Second Life might get a grin out of it.  As well as many of us who are not in Second Life at all and just thought that I did interesting photos.

http://www.photographytalk.com/photography-articles/3295-41-reasons-to-date-a-photographer

Enjoy the read!