a man 4 all seasons's Blog

a blog about the weird and wonderful virtual world that is Second Life

Inspiration for pictures on a theme

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Just lately I’ve been going through my files of virtual photography – some good, some not so good and some downright craptastic – so I thought I’d write a post on how I find inspiration for artwork.

Now you may not agree with photo competitions. Maybe you’re not sure about their fairness or even if the originators will carry through the competition if they don’t get enough entries. What I will say is that sometimes this happens, it’s SL life and in any competition of this sort you take the rough with the smooth and learn from it. On the whole, however, and especially of late, those who run photo competitions  have been making efforts to settle things down and to make them more equitable and enjoyable. For me, just joining a competition is inspiration for a start! I would like to be in with a good chance of winning, and the prize is always a good piece of bribery a good incentive. So I would suggest entering some photo competitions, not least because you’ll have a deadline in which to get the work finished but also you’ll get to know other competitors, their styles and strengths. You’ll also gain some understanding of what the judges pick as being a worthy winner.

Inspiration often comes from films or songs or novels. Sometimes I like to drag people that I know into the theme. For instance, this picture  below is a comic representation of the novel 1984.  It was a competition given by Shae Sixpence for the Model’s Workshop photographers. I started off with the avatar picture taken on a white background which I cut out and saved as a layer. Then underneath I added a background which was a combination of brushes using colours from the avatar picture. Then I added various pieces of humorous text as they came to my weird mind and put them on different layers so I could move them around a bit. Next, I drop shadowed the title and avatar. In something like this you have to think what needs to stand out the most. Here, it was the title of the ‘magazine’ and the avatar – since the text was based on the designers of the items the avatar was wearing.

Another inspiration for me is things that builders make. Sometimes I’m so enthusiastic about a particular piece of furniture that I wonder about my geek rating and how high it will go. Here the object of my adoration was a writer’s desk by Isla Gealach of ‘Cheeky Pea’.  I was also teasing my Editor at Scruplz Magazine. As a writer in first life I do know about burning the midnight oil. So that was a start – to get the lighting right. I set the world lighting on midnight and switched on the desk lamp. Lo and behold all the shadows fell just right and so I scrolled back and took a shot. All I did in Photoshop was to sharpen the newspaper on the desk a little and add my daft poem on a black background. Perfect!

Sometimes a client gives me a good inspirational idea. Saleena Hax, ace model heheh, wanted to take a photo with a city theme. Now if you are a photographer it really pays to spend an occasional day  TPing around SL and visiting various sims, taking landmarks of them, and placing those landmarks in a folder for later use. I’d visited the Manhatten sim recently and so that came to mind. Off we went and Saleena posed at an intersection of the streets where I could get plenty of the city into the photo as well as her beauteous self. And then I thought, oh yes there’s a song called ‘New York City Girl’ and so the theme progressed. Back in Photoshop I added a frame to divide the picture, recoloured it with colours from the photo, then rotated the whole show and added the text. It’s much easier to rotate your picture to add what will be text in the vertical, and then rotate it back. Lastly, I selected the avatar figure and applied a perspective shadow which is an AlienSkin 5 plug-in effect. AlienSkin EC5 series are one of my favorite plug-in sets, and with just one of those you can do some wonderful effects if shadows don’t work for you directly in SL. Go HERE and you can pick up a whole load of filters for nowt but sssh!

Finally, this picture has the most post processing on it and it’s really only for advanced photography students otherwise it’ll drive you mad. If you’re on Flickr do go and join the MasterMinds group where each week they have a photo competition where the winner of the previous week chooses the theme for the current week. It’s such fun, you’ll make a heap of friends and get good experience in working to a theme. This week it was Max’s choice and here’s his intro – what more inspiration do we need? “All people fall asleep most of the time in their lives and when we sleep we see dreams. Our dreams are very different: Mysterious, magical, light, dark, terrible. Dream, a beautiful part of human life, nobody knows what we are doing there. In dreams we live and breath. We feel love and danger. Imagine that you are in a dream. And show your imaginative dream in your pictures.”

Again, it’s another song which inspired me – R.E.M.’s ‘The Great Beyond‘ which has some really heartfelt lyrics about being trapped in an artificial world and calling out for answers from something which is perceived as having wisdom. I started off with a background landscape as asked for in the MasterMind rules, then placed my cutout avatar sitting in his rocker, sort of falling asleep and dreaming about the song. Then I added bits and pieces from the song all around the avatar, attempting to blend these into areas of the background or at least merging them. After a lot of fiddling, resizing and so forth I joined all layers together and then worked with various filters until it looked colourful and uniform. It’s a process that takes time and may not even work so please do keep an original of your merged layers. If you enjoy that sort of fiddling though, it’s very creative and some amazing pictures can result. Good luck with the fiddling!


Written by Moz Loordes

16/02/2011 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Chat, Tutorials

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