Your very first photograph

Posted: June 10, 2012 in Getting Started, Rule Of Thirds, Techniques, Zoom

I am now going to take you through your very first photograph on SL – This is more than a simple snapshot of a random place, you need to take your time to find something interesting to photograph, and take your time making sure the picture is as good as it can be.

Note : All menus and options are those in Firestorm. Other viewers will have similar options.

First – find a good destination. I used the destination guide for this – to find “The Black Forest Hills” on Le Dome/57/93/21.

Now – find something interesting. Take your time to walk around the location, and find something to photograph. I am going to take some photos of the Lighthouse at Le Dome/4/177/21.

And before you take any pictures – set your viewer up to the best quality images you can. Avatar -> Preferences ->  Graphics. I am able to set render Quality to High – your PC might not be able to do that. Leave Shadows set to Sun/Moon, and reflections set to Minimal for now.

To illustrate how to go from a snapshot to a great pic  – here is straight snaphot of the Lighthouse..

Basic Snapshot

Although not a bad shot – but it is pretty dull. Lots of water … and sky – and not much of the Lighthouse. This shot was taken with the default settings, straight to disk. Notice that I have turned off the HUDS and interfaces.

So – zoom in – and lets see what that looks like. Press and Hold the Alt Key on your keyboard, and Left Click on the lighthouse, and let go of the Alt Key. You can now use the Scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in and out (if you have no scroll wheel, keep the Alt Key held and move the mouse backwards and forwards to get the same effect). You can pan left and right by Holding Ctrl and Alt together and move the mouse around.

So we zoom in on the lighthouse.

Just the light house

Unsurprisingly maybe, zooming in shows a detail that you might not have noticed – a walrus.

Can we do better – sure. There is a rule in photography called the rule of thirds. What it says is that photos look “better” when objects are lined up a 1/3 of the way up – or a 1/3 of the way down. So here is photo #3 of this shoot with the light house 1/3rd of the way from the left.

Lighthouse - Rule of Thirds

It looks better already doesn’t it, but it is still a bit flat.

So what next ……. Lighting

You might be asking at this point – how do I change the lighting, since I am working outside. Thankfully SL makes it very easy – you can move the Sun. SL gives you 4 basic Sun positions : Sunrise, Midday, Sunset and Midnight.

Midday is nearly always flat – like the pictures above.

Let’s try the basic sun positions,

Go to the World Menu -> Sun Position -> Sunset.

Sunset

And now let’s turn on some other options : reflections, and shadows.

Sunset with Reflections

Note  If you have a slow computer you might need to turn off reflections and shadows back off if you move about.

Now – scroll back to the top – and compare this picture to the first one we took – is it better – or a lot better ?

In the next post we will explore an versatile feature of SL – the Environment editor.

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