SL Photography: Depth of field- Part 1

Windlight Contributor Myra Wildmist is back with a new tip, this time on Depth of Field:

Two graphic settings will dramatically increase the realistic look of your Second Life photographs. One we’ve previously discussed in depth – ambient occlusion (AO), which adds realistic shading to your scene. The other is depth of field (DoF).

I’m dividing up the DoF information into at least two posts, maybe more, since, just like AO, there’s a lot to get into.

What is depth of field?

Depth of field, or focus range, is the point in your scene where things will be in focus.

In SL, the easiest way to set this focus point is to alt-left click. Alt-left click will set the focus point and distance of the depth of field. Moving away from this focus point, the scene gradually loses focus.

[Note: Alt-left click is the same as the magnify glass on the camera control.]

No DoF. Focus point is on me

Depth of Field. Focus point is on me.  Notice the vase in the foreground, trees, and the building in the background are blurry

Turning on DoF


You can turn on DoF under from the main Firestorm menu or from Phototools .

Phototools DoF/Glow

From the main FS menu: Avatar – Preferences (Ctrl-P) – Graphics. Select the Depth of Field tab. Check “Enable Depth of Field”.

From Phototool (Alt-P): Select DoF/Glow tab. Check “Enable Depth of Field (DoF)”.


You can move closer or farther away from the focus point (Set by alt-left click.) by using the camera control slider bar or your mouse wheel. In camera geek terms, this is an optical zoom.

Camera Controls

SL also provides a digital zoom. A digital zoom decreases or increases the view angle, that is it crops or enlarges the photo view.

The keyboard commands Ctrl-8 (zoom out) and Ctrl-0 (zoom in)  allow you to digitally zoom in and out. Ctrl-9 will reset your zoom to the SL default.

Use phototools for digital zooming

I almost never use Ctrl-8 or Ctrl-0. The problem with using the keyboard to digitally zoom in and out is they jump – Ctrl-8 and Ctrl-0 leap in and out.

You can’t control how much you zoom in or out by using the keyboard.

Phototools allows you much greater and smoother control over digital zooming with the View angle setting under the DoF/Glow tab. The View angle setting has a slider and a spinner dial for precisely controlling your digital zoom.

Style thoughts

I find it much easier to use the View angle slider in phototools when I want to zoom in or out. I almost never use Ctrl-8 or Ctrl-0 for this.

You control and decide how much you zoom in and out with phototools’ View angle slider; the keyboard commands decide for you.

Useful Keyboard commands

Alt-left click: Sets the focus point
Ctrl-8: Digital zoom out
Ctrl-0: Digital zoom in
Ctrl-9: Resets digital zoom to default


Understand Depth of Field in Photography

The Difference between Optical Zoom and Digital Zoom on Your Digital Camera


Published by Myra Wildmist

Perfectly nice. Yes, perfectly. Canadian nice. Been known to wiggle and waggle.

4 thoughts on “SL Photography: Depth of field- Part 1

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