Myra Wildmist is back with more tools for SL Photography:
This week I wanted to save you some lindens and talk about what you should buy if you want to take better photos. We’ll come back to Phototools and photography techniques, soon.
What do you need to take good SL photos? Do you need an expensive photo studio or an expensive lighting system or a hundred other photo things for sale on the Second Life Market Place?
The quick answer is no.
All you need to take nice, quality SL photos is your viewer. That’s right, you can go out and start snapping away, and still take photos like a pro, if you know what you’re doing (There’s a lot to learn.).
That said, there are a few things that will help you take better photos.
You don’t need expensive things to take nice photos, and when you’re first starting out, I’d suggest you don’t buy them. That might be hard. Whenever you start a new hobby there’s a temptation to raid the store and get the best of the best.
But resist shopping’s siren call. Take a deep breath and save your lindens, at least for a bit.
What if you buy a 3000L studio, then find you like taking photos in all the beautiful sims around SL? What if you buy an expensive posing system, stock it full of expensive poses, then end up using furniture for most of your photos?
Wait until you know what sort of photographer you’re going to be before parting with your lindens.
Starting out there are a few things you should consider getting, though, but you don’t have spend money on them.
Get a facelight. Photographers need facelights. Yes, the bane of SL night clubs is a boon for SL photographers.
A good facelight will bring out your face, eliminating shadows, and let the viewer see you without flooding a scene with unnecessary light. It’s a very valuable tool for almost every SL photographer.
The good news is you don’t have to pay much for one, if anything. There are a lot of facelights that cost 10 lindens or less. Lots of facelights come free with your clothes, too.
Unfortunately, most of these are limited – they have one setting for the light and that’s it. That’s not very useful. A good facelight lets you adjust the brightness, the radius, and the color of the light.
If you’re just starting out, one you can get for free on the marketplace is the CG facelight. It has presets, not variable settings, for brightness, light radius, and color, but it does the job.
There are plenty of other free or nearly free facelights out there, so be sure to look around. If you have a recommendation, please share it with us in the comments.
[Please be kind to your fellow SL citizens: Don’t forget to take your facelight off when you’re done with your photo.]
Depending on the type of photographer you are, you might not need poses at all. If you’re planning on taking landscapes or you’re content using furniture animations, you’re not going to have much use for poses.
However, if you’re like most SL photographers you’re going to use yourself as a model, so it’s useful to have a few sit and stand poses.
The good news is, you don’t need to spend many lindens to stock up on poses. In fact, you don’t have to spend a single linden to get an almost overwhelming collection of poses: A search of the marketplace revealed over 200 free poses available – sits, stands, couple poses, group poses, action poses – all free.
That’s more than enough to get you started.
As you take more photos, you’ll start buying specialty poses – there are lots of good pose makers in SL – and looking at and buying poses can become something of addiction, just something else to buy. Who knows, you might even start making your own poses.
But there’s no need for any of that when you’re just beginning. You can get plenty of free poses off the marketplace, and save yourself time and money, letting you focus on your photography.
Photo studios can be very useful, especially if you’re blogging and just want to show outfits against a neutral or green screen background (Green screens are used by Photoshoppers to add backgrounds after taking photos in SL.). Many photo studios have easy to use posing systems and support both singles and couples.
Depending on what sort of photographer you are, a photo studio might be just the thing for you.
But the best ones are expensive. If you think you want a photo studio, wait. Use some of the free ones scattered all over SL and decide if a studio is really what you need.
The only thing I’d recommend for beginning photographers is a good facelight and some freebie poses. You don’t need a photo studio, though they can be fun and handy, but try the free ones before you decide to buy one.
Second Life photography is fun and doesn’t have to cost a single linden. You can get everything you need for free and still take high-quality photos. As you grow as a photographer, you’ll figure out what you need to invest your lindens in, later.