Kultivate Magazine’s May 2020 Issue is Now Published!

The May 2020 Issue of Kultivate Magazine is now published! This issue features artist and Kultivate 5th Annual Spring Art Show Best in Show Winner, Skye Joubert. The Dirty Pretty Sim, the HP Lovecraft themed Innsmouth Sim, and the Twins Exhibit at Carbone Gallery will be featured. The issue also contains articles on live performer Lark Bowen, the 15th Annual Raglanshire Artwalk, the Thermae region, and the forests of Bellissaria. We also debuting a new travel feature: Travels with Tempest! Click the issue cover below to view it:


SL Photography: JPG, BMP, or PNG?

Saving your photos to your hard drive is a handy option, allowing you to save your photos to your PC for easy cataloguing or editing. Second Life allows you to save your photos as either JPG, BMP, or PNG. Which file format is best for your photos?

When you take a snapshot in SL, either by pressing the camera icon or using the keyboard combination Ctrl+Shift+S, you will be presented with the snapshot dialog window. On left of the Snapshot window are a variety of options.

Under the Profile section, there’s a button called Selection. If you click on this, it gives you a variety of ways to save your snapshot: to your inventory, Flickr, your Profile feed, etc.

There’s also an option to save your photos to disk, locally on your PC.

Saving to disk you can save your photos in three different formats: JPG, BMP, or PNG. Which is best?

  • JPG is a compressed file format. Unfortunately, while it will save disk space, that compression costs image detail.
  • BMP is uncompressed and maintains image quality and accuracy.
  • PNG is also uncompressed and also maintains image accuracy and quality. Its file size is smaller than BMP, though.

The choice for photographers is PNG. It delivers the highest image quality and a smaller file size than BMP.

JPGs can be very good, though. If disk space is an issue for you, you won’t be giving up too much quality, but just be aware you are losing some image quality.

If disk space isn’t an issue, choose PNG when you save your photos to your hard drive.

SL Photography: The problem with profile photos

Kultivate contributor Myra Wildmist is back with a new tutorial! This time she discusses the problem with profile photos:

Do profile photos look stretched or compressed to you?

You’re not alone. There’s a good chance a large part of the Second Life (SL) community sees your profile photo wrong.

The problem is Firestorm (FS) – and probably some other third-party viewers – or rather the way Firestorm handles profiles.

FS profile pic on left. Same pic as it appears in LL viewer


The problem: Linden Labs web profile photos use a different size and aspect ratio than the Firestorm profile photos.

Several years ago, Linden Labs (LL) revamped their profile system and went to web profiles. When they did they changed the default sizes of profile photos. Before transitioning to web profiles, profile photos were a weird size and a non-standard aspect ratio – 178×133 pixels, almost, but not quite, a 4:3 aspect ratio.

[Note: Using standard aspect ratios is super important for ease of use and ready sharing of images. You can read more about aspect ratios in this article.]

When LL went to web profiles, they changed the default size of profile photos to 300×300 pixels. 300×300 pixels has an aspect ratio of 1:1, a standard aspect ratio that lends itself easily to the SL default upload size for snapshots – 512×512 pixels, which is also a 1:1 aspect ratio.

Firestorm maintained the old, legacy profile and didn’t migrate entirely to web profiles. By default, Firestorm uses the legacy profiles which means your profile photo has to fit into the old legacy size of 178×133 if you want it to look nice on the Firestorm profile view.

The problem: Linden Labs viewer uses 300×300 pixels for its profile photos while Firestorm uses the legacy size of 178×133.

When you look at a profile pic made for LL profiles in an FS profile it will appear stretched out, but when you look at a profile pic made for FS in the Linden viewer it will appear compressed.

Why did Firestorm continue to use legacy profiles?

If this is an issue why did FS stick with the legacy profiles?

  • FS legacy profiles are faster. Web profiles take longer to load.
  • Web profiles sometimes fail to load, at all.
  • Legacy profiles are better organized and have a couple more features (e.g. online status) than web profiles.

Unfortunately, while there are good reasons to continue to use the legacy profiles, it does create this problem with the profile pictures.

It is impossible to take a profile photo that looks good on both LL and FS viewers.

Because of the difference in aspect ratios, LL profile photos will look bad in the FS viewer, and FS profile photos will look bad in the LL viewer. FS will stretch a profile photo that looks good in the LL viewer, while an image that looks good on FS will look squashed in the LL viewer.

Is there a solution?

Is there a solution to this discrepancy between the two most popular viewers?

The best solution would be for Firestorm to change the default size of the legacy profile pictures. The burden is really on Firestorm since the legacy profiles use a non-standard aspect ratio for their profile photos.

Aside from that, there’s not much you can do. You can use web profiles in FS (Avatar – Preferences – User Interface – check “Use web profiles by default”), but, as mentioned, they’re a little slower among other things.

What format should you use for your profile picture?

Should you use the Linden viewer dimensions or the Firestorm viewer dimensions for your profile photo?

This might seem like a dilemma, but it’s really not. Make your profile photos for the LL viewer.

Advantages of taking a profile photo that fits the LL viewer:

  • It’s a standard aspect ratio. You can easily use your profile photo elsewhere without it looking distorted.
  • More people use the LL viewer, so more people will see your profile photo correctly.
  • If an FS user wants to see your profile photo correctly, they can just click on it. That will bring up another window showing your photo in the 1:1 aspect ratio (This doesn’t work with your profile photo, though.).
  • You can easily use a SL snapshot without having to crop it to fit into the weird FS profile photo dimensions.

For these reasons, even if you use the FS viewer, use a 1:1 aspect ratio for your profile photos.

1:1 aspect ratios sizes. Some examples:

72×72 pixels, 300×300, 512×512, 1024×1024, 2048×2048, and so on. Just make a square.

Want to take better profile photos? Check out these other articles I wrote:

SL Photography: Taking your profile picture

SL Photography: 6 ways to take a great profile photo


Photofocus | History of Photography: Photos as Propaganda

As photography evolved, one theme remained fairly constant in the public’s opinion: seeing is believing. People generally regarded photographic prints as evidence of truth and reality. Steadily becoming more mobile, photographers tended to photograph scenes of current events wide, because as much visual information as could be jammed into a photo, the better the photo was considered. A tight crop didn’t give the viewer nearly as much information to digest as a wide shot. It was believed there was more truth and accuracy in wider shots than close ups.

However, despite advances in technology, many photos still took multiple seconds to expose. This limited how much a photographer could successfully capture of live events, particularly ones involving lots of moving people such as war photography.

Up until the mid-1800’s war was something romanticized and fantasized about. Unless you had been to war,  you didn’t know what it looked like. Cameras offered a glimpse into what it was like and given the public’s opinion that photos = truth, many officials in power began to realize they had a great PR tool at their disposal. If they financed a photographer’s work, they could pay him to bring back images that support the views they’re trying to perpetuate. In short, photos were (and still are) a stellar part of propaganda machines.

Continue reading “Photofocus | History of Photography: Photos as Propaganda”

30 years of the GIF | TechCrunch

Few technologies survive more than five years — let alone 30 years — without significant change. In the last 10 years alone, our phones gained 20x the processing power and added capabilities from multitasking to visual messaging. We’re on the fifth standard of HTML and have evolved from FLV to MP4 as the dominant video streaming format on the web. As Andy Grove, one of Intel’s founders, said, “only the paranoid survive.” Technologies that do not change are resigned to obsolescence.

But the GIF, which celebrates its 30th birthday this summer, has endured as a format. While its technical aspects haven’t changed, GIFs have taken on three different lives — and usage of GIFs has never been higher than it is today.

Continue reading “30 years of the GIF | TechCrunch”

GIMPHOTO: Free Photoshop alternative Photo and Image Editor software

GIMPHOTO is a free GIMP based, cross-platform, feature-rich Photoshop alternative Photo and Image Editor software for Windows 10/8/7.

Source: GIMPHOTO: Free Photoshop alternative Photo and Image Editor software

How to Replace the Sky in Any Photo in Photoshop: A 2-Minute Tutorial

Source: How to Replace the Sky in Any Photo in Photoshop: A 2-Minute Tutorial

Adobe launches redesigned Lightroom for Android | TechCrunch

Adobe launched an update for its Lightroom photo management and editing apps on iOS and Android today. The iOS app for iPhone and iPad is getting a few new features, including support for Adobe’s selective brush, a new details tab and an interface update for the iPad version. That’s all pretty nice, but the biggest news here is that Adobe also completely redesigned the Android app from the ground up.

Adobe has long been an iOS-first shop and, while it now offers most of its apps on Android, too, it often felt as if the teams spent far more time polishing the iOS apps than the Android versions. Lightroom on Android was always a pretty competent mobile version of the desktop experience, but it never felt all that snappy and native.

“We wanted to provide the best Android experience possible so we redesigned Lightroom for Android from the ground up to be faster, more efficient, and, well, more Android-y,” Adobe says in today’s announcement. “Every screen has been redesigned with the goal of ensuring a natural, native Android experience while providing the highest quality, professional-grade mobile photo editing app ever.

”Sadly, new features like Selective Brush, which complements the currently available linear and radial gradients, and the Detail tab that gives you global control over sharpening and noise, are still coming to iOS first. Chances are we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to get these on Android.

Source: Adobe launches redesigned Lightroom for Android | TechCrunch

Photofocus | Portrait Retouch Tutorial with ACDSee Ultimate 10

Editor’s Note: For Window’s users looking for an all-in-one digital asset manager, RAW photo editor with layers, ACDSee Ultimate 10 offers a solution.  We invite you to check out a free trial of their application

Source: Photofocus | Portrait Retouch Tutorial with ACDSee Ultimate 10

Photofocus | Lightroom FAQ: Update Folder Location

This is useful function to know about if you are wanting to move a folder (or even your entire photo Library) from one drive to another drive. For example, say you are running out of space on one drive and want to move photos to a new drive to free up space on the original drive.You could use Lightroom to move the folders via drag and drop within the Folders panel, but I don’t recommend doing that when a large amount of date is at stake. Using a move command is risky, because if anything goes wrong in the middle of the transfer you could lose data. I prefer a technique that involves copying the folders to the new drive outside of Lightroom, updating Lightroom to this change, and then later manually deleting the files from the original location (outside of Lightroom).

Here’s how:

Open Mac Finder / Windows Explorer (or any file browser or folder synchronization software of your choice).

Copy the entire folder structure (as-is without changing the folder structure or photo file names) from the original drive to the new drive.

Open Lightroom.

Once the copy operation is complete, Expand the Folders panel and right-click (or however you trigger the contextual menu) the parent folder (of the folder structure you copied to the new drive) and choose Update Folder Location.

In the resulting dialog box that appears, navigate to and select that same folder in the new drive (the one you just copied over). Lightroom will update the catalog to point to the folder in the new location (and everything inside of that folder). If you have all your folders/photos in a single parent folder then you are done, but if there are additional folders at the same level as that top folder you just need to repeat steps 4 and 5 with those folders. Give it a test run to make sure everything is as it should be before removing the files from the original location.

Having a good backup in place before you do this is always a good idea. I use this function every time I migrate my photos to a new drive.

Source: Photofocus | Lightroom FAQ: Update Folder Location

Photofocus | Selective Coloring Tutorial with ACDSee Ultimate 10

Editor’s Note: For Window’s users looking for an all-in-one digital asset manager, RAW photo editor with layers, ACDSee Ultimate 10 offers a solution.  We invite you to check out a free trial of their application In this Ultimate 10 tutorial, we’ll learn an easy way to create a popular selective coloring effect, converting a photo to black and white while leaving the main subject in full color.

Source: Photofocus | Selective Coloring Tutorial with ACDSee Ultimate 10

Photofocus | 8 Tips for Better Candid Photos

Some of the best photos are candid. People are more relaxed and photos have more context. Despite what you might think, candid photos do take some planning. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Continue reading “Photofocus | 8 Tips for Better Candid Photos”

Photofocus | Create Keynote or Powerpoint Templates with Ease in Photoshop

I was recently asked to create a Powerpoint template for someone and soon realised that with a few Photoshop techniques creating, editing and creating individual assets was a breeze. To keep the whole thing as flexible as I could I used Artboards, Smart Objects and Create Assets.

In this video I show you how to make three slide template, a main slide, a ‘blank slide’ and a slide for an image. Should you wish to create more then this technique allows you to do it in seconds. I hope you find it helpful!

Source: Photofocus | Create Keynote or Powerpoint Templates with Ease in Photoshop

Photofocus | Mirrorless Camera Maniac: There’s An App For That

Most mirrorless cameras include wifi and the ability to work with a smartphone app, and most mirrorless photographers I talk to aren’t maximizing that connectivity and the included functions. The cameras themselves create the wifi, so you don’t need to connect to wifi wherever you are. I highly recommend you get used to using your app and let it help you work better. Here are some of the things I do regularly with my Lumix cameras and the Panasonic Image App.

Whether I’m sending pictures I just took of my kids to my wife or sharing pictures I just made with a client, I use this function daily. More and more, people want their pictures immediately and I find that sharing one during the shoot satiates the need for immediacy and gives me more time to finish the rest before sharing. It’s waaaaaay better than taking a phone picture of the back of the camera.

The trick with my camera/app combo is that only JPEGs can be transferred. Fortunately, your camera can create a JPEG from any RAW file you’ve shot, and also allows you to put some finishing touches on the photo. I often use my camera’s RAW processing tool to create a black and white JPEG of a photo and I share that with the client. This both trains my clients to like my black and whites, and it allows me to not be concerned with perfect color correction.

Continue reading “Photofocus | Mirrorless Camera Maniac: There’s An App For That”

Instagram direct messages now support web links and different photo orientations | TechCrunch

Instagram’s Direct feature just got more generally useful as a messaging option, with support added for external web links, and the ability to send photos and video in their original portrait or landscape aspect ratios without cropping. The first is really far more important than the second, mainly because it means users have less reason to go seeking other messaging options outside of Instagram.The links feature also includes inline previews for websites you paste the URL for, and the new photo and video treatment is much more in keeping with how people actually capture and view media on mobile these days. The updates are rolling out now to iOS users, and will arrive on Android soon. Links are supported on both platforms as of version 10.22.

Instagram Direct is a popular feature among the social network’s user base – there are 375 million monthly active users on Direct alone as of last count, a fresh number shared publicly in April. It’s a far cry from Facebook Messenger’s 1.2 billion monthly actives, but that’s still one of the biggest messaging apps in the world, and a product worth iterating on in order to help it capture even more market share.

Source: Instagram direct messages now support web links and different photo orientations | TechCrunch

Photofocus | Don’t Miss this Free Business Course for Photographers

Contracting for Creative Pros with Seth Polansky

This course is free until 7/1/17In this course—specifically designed for creatives—professor, contract attorney, indie film producer, and musician Seth Polansky explains how to protect yourself when presented with an industry contract. Media and entertainment companies spend billions of dollars every year on creative talent. Get an overview of the types of contracts that you can expect to see, the situations in which a particular type is used, and the specific red flags inherent in each. Seth discusses NDA, work-for-hire and contractor agreements, and proposals, quotes, and SOWs.

Topics include:

Why do you need a contract?

Types of contractsAsking for an NDA

Work-for-hire and contractor agreements

Proposals, quotes, and statements of work

Licensing agreements

Delivery and payment terms..


Source: Photofocus | Don’t Miss this Free Business Course for Photographers

Photofocus | Photography Marketing: Creating Brand Engagement Through Instagram

Instagram is a constantly evolving tool, and one that has changed drastically over the past year. Now, more than ever, it’s important to follow some simple rules when posting to the social networking platform that can help you engage with not only your fans, but potential clients.

Tag Businesses and Locations

This might sound obvious, but oftentimes, it’s overlooked. Mention your clients or potential clients by tagging their Instagram accounts in images that feature them or their products.

On my recent trip to North Carolina, I stopped at several bars and restaurants, as I have a passion for shooting food and drink. Once I processed these images, and prepped them for Instagram, I made sure to mention the official Instagram account for the business. This made them not only aware of the image, but also made them look at my photograph. Doing so can create the potential for them looking at more of your photos, and potentially hiring you for an upcoming job.

Likewise, it’s important to tag locations. Even if you’re at your home, tag the neighborhood or district you live in. Doing so will make it so your photo is seen by people who are searching for location-specific images. And sometimes, these could get the attention of potential clients.

Use Applicable Hashtags

Just like tagging businesses and locations, be sure to use appropriate hashtags in the caption or comment of your image. This spreads your image across anyone looking for a specific type of image.

In my experience, it’s better to use hashtags that are more specific. When using a generalized hashtag with thousands (or millions) of photos tagged to it, your image is bound to get lost in the shuffle.

More is not always better here. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags in a post, but if you put hashtag after hashtag, you might annoy your followers, as it seems spammy. Instead, pick relevant hashtags that will draw an audience to your post

.Consider Creating a Series of ImagesSomething I’ve recently discovered is the advantage of creating a series of images. For me, I typically post three images over the course of one or two days. This helps my audience not only know what to expect, but it lets my account be more known for a certain type of photography, instead of a hodgepodge of images.Use a SchedulerIt’s helped me tremendously to use a schedule website like Buffer or Later.com. These tools allow you to upload your images, apply appropriate captions and hashtags, and schedule them for publication. When your image is set to be posted, you get an alert on your phone, and then your post is copied over to the Instagram app.Why do this instead of just post directly on your phone? It allows you to think more in-depth about what you’re posting, and come up with a plan.

Keep Up On Your Comments

When you get a comment from a follower on Instagram, be sure to thank them and reply back. Likewise, if you get a direct message (that little envelope in the upper right hand corner), answer it! Being responsive with your audience and engaging with them shows that you care about your photography.

That’s not to say you have to say “thank you” to all those spammy comments though. Instead, remove those and report the profile to Instagram.

Source: Photofocus | Photography Marketing: Creating Brand Engagement Through Instagram

Snapchat’s new eraser lets you ‘Photoshop’ stuff out of photos | TechCrunch

It’s Snapchat’s turn to copy Instagram while also staying one step ahead of its competitor. Today Snapchat launched a slew of new creative tools, several of which mimic Instagram’s features, including the option to remove the 10-second time limit on viewing photos that still disappear once closed. But Snapchat’s new option to let users erase real-world objects from their photos shows it’s still pioneering the visual communication format.As Snap adds more creative tools, it’s now organizing them all down the right side of the screen for easy access.

Here’s a breakdown of each of the new Snapchat creative features:

Limitless Snaps – Now you can select the infinity icon in the Snap photo timer so friends can look at the Snap as long as they want. It will still disappear once closed, though. This could be useful for sharing important information like an address via photo. Instagram already allows limitless viewing of ephemeral Stories and Direct Messages.

Looping Videos – You can tap the looping icon on the right side of the Snap composer to make your videos loop over and over, which is great for short videos or highlighting a particular moment. This gives Snap an animated GIF-style feature to compete with Instagram’s Boomerang.

Draw with Emoji – You can now use an emoji as a drawing brush. Select one from the creative tools on the right, and instead of a pen tip’s color, you’ll see a trail of that emoji as you draw. This takes the pain out of drawing with emojis by sticking them on one by one. Instagram actually tried something similar back in December with its Candy Cane holiday brush, but currently only offers more traditional marker, highlighter and neon brushes.

Magic Eraser – You can now select and remove objects from your Snaps, blurring their surrounding to cover the empty spot. Just select the Magic Eraser icon, paint over the object you want removed, and Snap will “Photoshop” it out automatically.Now the question is how long til Instagram offers a Magic Eraser and emoji brush of its own……

Source: Snapchat’s new eraser lets you ‘Photoshop’ stuff out of photos | TechCrunch

Photofocus | Lightroom FAQ: Additional External Editors

By default, the latest version of Photoshop becomes the primary external editor for Lightroom. If you go to Preferences > External Editing, you will see it listed at the top. This is the editor, and file settings, that are called into play when you use the (Mac) CMD+E / (Win) Ctrl+E keyboard shortcut or use the Photo > Edit In > Edit in Photoshop menu command.

An external editor is any other pixel editor you may have installed on your machine. Aside from Photoshop, some of the most common are products from on1, Nik, Perfectly Clear, Topaz, Macphun, etc. For most of these products, when you install that software the connection between it and Lightroom are also installed. If you click the Preset drop-down menu under Additional External Editor you will see these listed.

If you select one of those presets, you will see the file settings used when creating the copy that is sent to the respective editor. For example, selecting the preset for Perfectly Clear Complete, I see that it is set to create a 16 bit ProPhoto RGB TIF file. If I wanted to change any of those settings, I could dial in my preferred choices, then click the Preset drop-down menu a second time and choose Update Preset from the bottom of the list. You can do this with any of the presets you have.

Alternatively, if you have an image editor that is not listed here and you’d like to be able to send a copy from Lightroom to that editor, you can create a custom preset. For example, I have Photoshop Elements installed, and I need to use that for some of the classes I teach. Here’s how to create a custom preset:

1. Click the Choose button, and navigate to the program you want to open (Applications folder on Mac, Program Files on Win) and select it

.2. Configure the file type settings as desired.

3. Click the Preset drop-down menu, and choose Save Current Settings as New Preset, and give it a name.

That’s it. You’ve now got a custom additional editor configured and ready to go. If there is an additional editor you use frequently, leave that preset selected in the Preset drop-down menu. That will make it available right under Photoshop on the Photo > Edit In menu, and when you go there you’ll see there is even a keyboard shortcut associated with the selected additional editor. Might just make your workflow one click faster.

Source: Photofocus | Lightroom FAQ: Additional External Editors