Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Now that you have your photograph – you might want to upload it to SL – so you can show it off on your profile – or maybe display it in your home. You need to know about file types and file sizes.

SL supports three different file types : jpg, png or tga. The different files have different uses and in some cases some are better than others.

  • jpg : Great for photographs or textures in SL. In general JPG files can be resized a lot without nasty pixelation or jaggies.  I would recommend that you do the resizing in GIMP or similar – and not in SL – stretching images in SL is not the best feature.. JPG files don’t support transparencies (which you might want to use in some places in SL – buildings, clothing etc) – if you need transparency – use TGA. Also because of how JPG files are compressed, they are not good for diagrams – use PNG or TGA for these.
  • PNG : These are good files for retaining details (such as in diagrams), but not as good for photographs, especially if you planning to resize them. at a later date. PNG files do support transparency but under some cases, SL seems to have an issue with PNG files with transparency.
  • TGA : Like PNG files they are uncompressed, and they support Transparency (i.e. you can make them see-through; and SL has less problems with TGA files. They are regularly usedwith clothing and building textures (windows for instance), and would be cool with some types of picture.

Now that you have chosen your file type – what size should you use. You need to remember two key facts :

  1. SL limits image uploads to a maximum of 2048 pixels in each direction (horizontal and vertical). Any file bigger than this will be rejected – files are then resized to 1024 on its largest size.
  2. SL will resize any picture to the nearest power of two – i.e. 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024 , so a 27 x 62 picture is resized to 32 x 64, which means that it will be distorted.

It is critical that you are aware of the re-sizing the SL does – and how it might distort your picture for you. I would suggest you plan your picture sizes before you upload into SL, and then – if you are unsure use the Temporary upload feature to see whether the uploaded image is right in world.

When i upload pictures in SL :

  • Edit them in GIMP (add signatures, borders etc).
  • Scale them in GIMP so that the biggest dimension is 2048 pixels – typically  this makes a picture 2048 x 1453.
  • Upload them in SL –  it is resized to 1024 x 1024.
  • Display it on a prim or frame which honours the original aspect ratio – 1.4 to 1.0 in the case of a 2048 x 1453.

In Firestorm the upload function is in the Build menu.

Have fun – and get uploading. Don’t forget to contact me and tell me about the pictures you have taken.


So we have our picture on our PC, and now we want to work on it to make it look like a real picture that we could hang on a wall.

We are going to add a border and a caption to our light house picture.

Open Gimp – and then from the File -> Open, I open the final image.

File menu in Gimp




The Lighthouse picture will open in a brand new window, along side the normal GIMP docks.

Note : My Gimp opens with the Main toolbar, and the Layers,Channels, Images Docks both open – depending on your set up, yours might not.

Add a new Layer and call it “Border”, use either the New layer button on the Layers dock, or  use the Layer Menu on the main Window and choose “New Layer…”. Don’t change the size of the new layer.




With the New Border layer Selected in the Layers Dock, go to the main window and Select Everything – Select -> All

Now – still with the the border Layer selected, Shrink the Selection by 20 pixels






You now should have a flashing line – inset from the edge of your picture. Currently the area selected is the area inside the flashing box, but of course you need the border in the area between the flashing line and the edge.

Invert the Selection –





Main Window -> Select -> Invert. This now means the area between the flashing line and the edge is selected. Inverting the selection changes what is selected and not selected.

You now want to choose a colour for your border




Click on the colour picker tool in the Main toolbar. This will open up a colour chooser dialog, so pick a colour which will work – I chose a simple white border.


Then click on the paint bucket tool, and move the cursor over the main picture window, so it is between the flashing line selection and the  edge of the picture, and click. This will fill the selection with your chosen colour

You now have a border around your picture.

That seemed like a lot of steps – but you soon get used to it, and there are short cuts you can use if you do things often : You can use Keyboard Accelerators (Ctrl-A is the same as Select -> All etc), and there are things which will be covered in later posts.

Also don’t be worried about making mistakes – GIMP has an undo feature (On the Main window – Edit -> Undo – or Ctrl Z).

Adding a caption/Title

To add a caption you need to use the Text Tool


You can choose the Font you use and the colour of the text.


Having chosen your Font and colour – click on the main image where you want your text.  . GIMP will automatically create a new Layer, and open a dialog box for you to type into. Don’t worry if you don’t get the positioning exactly right, you can move your text later

Type your caption into the dialog box, and click close. Remember you can use captions to describe the image itself, or as a signature so that there is a record of who took the picture and when.
You now have a picture with a border and a caption.
All you need to do is save the file, and upload it back to Second life if you wish.
You can save the file by using the File -> Save from the Main Window. You should get into the habit of always saving the file as a xcf – which is GIMPs own format – this will allow you to edit every element of your picture separately in the future. For now, make sure you save it as an xcf file.
If you want to upload the picture into Second life you will need to export it as a png, tga or jpg. A future post will explore the pros and cons of the various file formats. I will also explore the size of image you need to use when uploading to Secondlife.