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.

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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

 

Everyone is an artist

Do you want to be an artist but don’t feel you have the talent?

That’s not unusual.

You might tell yourself you have to be able to draw or paint. You might tell yourself you have to be talented, born gifted, or you need to go to art school. You can’t chisel the Pieta from a block of marble or paint the Mona Lisa. How could you possibly call yourself an artist?

That’s your human nature talking, “creating” artificial barriers, false walls, walls so high and imposing why bother trying to climb them. There’s no higher wall than the fear of failure, is there?

Well, get out the ice axe and crampons, because it’s time to scale that illusory fear-of-failure wall.

No, you don’t have to be a brilliant painter or a skilled sculptor to be an artist. You don’t have to be “gifted,” whatever that means. An artist has to create, make something new, but the way you create is up to you.

Do you think you’re not creative?

You’re probably more creative than you realize. In fact, daily life is full of activities that, while mundane, require you to be creative. Writing a report for school or work is creative. Taking a snapshot of your friends is creative. Cooking a meal is creative. Every one of these activities requires you to create something new, something no one has ever seen before. These activities might not rise to the level of “high art,” but they are still creative.

Everyone is creative.

And everyone is an artist.

To create something artistic, you simply need an idea, a different way of looking at the world, or something to say.

You have ideas, every single human has ideas. You have a different way of looking at the world simply by virtue of the fact that you’re a unique person – no one else is you. And is there anyone birthed from a woman who doesn’t have something to say?

Let the world hear you, see your ideas, your singular way of looking at life. You just need to choose your medium, your way of expressing yourself. You don’t need to draw or paint or understand photography. You just need a way to create your art.

Your choice of medium is up to you. Whether it is stone or charcoal or PhotoShop or Blender or dirt, you can create from anything. Work in what feels comfortable, what works for you. How you create and what you create is up to you.

Sol Lewitt, a minimalist and conceptualist, often had others create his work. He provided the idea, the instructions for making his work, but let others build “his” works of art. Dan Flavin made minimalist sculptures from fluorescent light tubes, sometimes nothing more than a single tube on a wall. But Flavin’s work explores light and darkness, and demonstrates the beauty found in even the simplest of objects. Barbara Kruger creates collages of typography and images from mass media, but her work addresses and highlights important cultural issues. Warhol took images from mass media, copied them, and made silk screens out of them, barely changing them in many cases.

The list goes on and on. There are almost endless examples in contemporary art of brilliant artists creating important work that doesn’t use paint or pencil or stone to create their art.

The idea is important. What you have to say is important. Your ability to draw or paint or mold clay – while helpful – is not so important.

Art can be easy to create. Pick a medium, whatever you can use, and make your art. Will it be great art? You’re not the best judge of that. That’s a judgment best left to history.

It’s human nature to come up with reasons why you can’t do something, why there’s no point in trying. Don’t do that. You’re an artist. You might have something important to share with the world, perhaps something revolutionary, but if you don’t scale your personal fear-of-failure wall, the world will never see your art.

And that’s a real pity.

 

 

 

 

Kultivate Magazine’s April 17 Edition is Now Available!

On April 1, 2017 the next edition of Kultivate Magazine will be published (and no it is not an April Fool’s Joke)! This issue will feature artist Giovanna Cerise, the Rosehaven Sim, a preview of the Kultivate Spring 17 Art Show, The Grand Canyon in Second Life, live performer Melenda Mikael, a discussion of Flickr & art, a cyberpunk photo essay by Wicca Merlin, a photo essay on cityscapes and city streets, The Edge Stylists present their April stylings, and an article to help you produce a fashion show. Click the cover to read the issue:

Kultivate Magazine-April 17

 

SL Photography: Using a 300mm telephoto lens

Kultivate Contributor Myra Wildmist is back with another SL Photography tutorial. This time she discusses how to use a 300 mm telephoto lens.

In real life, a telephoto lens is often used to in situations where it’s difficult to get close to your subject, such as sports photography or wildlife photo.

Getting close to your subject in Second Life, isn’t usually an issue. The likelihood of being mauled by a tiger in SL is fairly low.

That doesn’t mean a telephoto lens doesn’t have uses in SL. A telephoto lens still gives your photographs that zoomed-in-from-a-distance appearance, which yields an appealing, real-life effect, especially if your subject is an action scene or animals.

Settings for a 300mm lens

For my 300mm lens, I’m using the specifications from the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm. Open your Phototools (Alt-P). Select the DoF/Glow tab. Check the box by Enable Depth of Field (DoF). Use the following settings:

View angle – .143
FOV- 8.2 degrees
Foc Length – 300
f-number – 2.8-22 (Recommended range.)

View angle, FOV (Field of View) and Foc Length (Focal Length) are the important settings. These three settings “attach” the lens to your camera. Once they’re set, there’s no reason to adjust them, again, until you want to return to your default.

View angle is the the FOV expressed as radians.

The f-number controls the depth of field effect. Lower numbers yield more bokeh, blur.The range of 2.8-22 is a physical limitation of the real world lens. It’s just a recommended range in SL. If you want to mirror the effect you get with the Nikon lens, stay in this range; however, feel free to go outside of the f-number range if it fits your purposes.

WARNING: Do not fuss with View angle, FOV, or Foc Length, once you set them for a lens. These parameters are all dependent on each other and should correspond to the specs of the lens you want to use.

Settings for other popular lenses can be found in my previous article, Simulating Popular Lenses in Phototools.

Sample photos taken with a 300mm lens:

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Antelope in the wilds at TerpsiCorp art sim
windmillbunny
Bunny on windmill at Bryn Oh’s, Hand
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Portrait taken with 300mm lens. That’s another Bryn Oh installation in the background

 

Kultivate Magazine’s March 2017 Edition is Now Available!

The March 2017 edition of Kultivate Magazine is now available! This issue features CasperTech Owner, Casper Warden; LaurieC Alexis, Co-Owner of The Keys Live Music Venues & Management Group, artist Nils Urqhart, The Ciottolina Rooftop Gallery, Builder’s Brewery, the Somewhere Sim, March stylings by The Edge Stylists, and two photo essays by Ilyra Chardin and AmyBeeBe. You can click on the cover below to view the issue:

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Kultivate Magazine’s February 2017 Issue is Now Available!

 

The February 2017 issue of Kultivate Magazine is now available!  This issue features artistic and talented designer, Lyrical Bizarre. Illyra  Chardin provides images of romantic art in honor of Valentines Day, Guest contributor Miaa Rebane has generously provided images for a photo essay, Kinn Fiachra has a new mainland piece on The Outlands, Veruca Tammas visits Weeville, Inara Pey reviews The Sagan Planetarium and the new exhibit at MetaLes, ILlogism; Eleseren Brianna previews Kultivate’s Spring Fashion Event, and  John interviews The SL Parade Owner, ReRe Sandalwood. Click on the cover below to view the issue.

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SL Photography: Leonardo knew a little about portraiture

Kultivate Contributor Myra Wildmist is back with another tip, this time on how to create the perfect portrait:

If you want to be an artist, you have to look at art.

If you want to learn how to create a great portrait, look at the work of those who have already done great portraits.

Remember those portraiture hints I gave you last time?

Those hints didn’t spring from my brain like Athena from Zeus’ thick skull. For years before I took up Second Life photography, I  looked at the works of artists, great and small, and read quite a bit about art. My ideas about what makes a good portrait – e.g. a profile photo – were formed from all that reading and from looking at the work of other artists.

The techniques for creating a good portrait have been understood for hundreds of years. You need look no farther than what is arguably the world’s most recognizable painting, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, to realize this.

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[Image: monalisa.png, Caption: Leonardo could take a great profile photo. © RMN, Musée du Louvre]

Almost all the portraiture techniques I mentioned in my last post, can be found in da Vinci’s portrait of Mona Lisa (Thought to be Lisa del Giocondo):

  • Mona Lisa fills the frame, almost as if Leonardo used a telephoto lens.
  • In my opinion, the eyes are the focal point of the painting. The viewer tends to see the eyes, first – She’s looking at you!
  • Leonardo used his bokeh.
    Of course he didn’t have photographic lenses or know about depth of field blur effects, but look closely at the background. You almost have to force yourself to look at the landscape surrounding the Mona Lisa. The background compliments the Mona Lisa, but it’s barely noticeable. That’s essentially what bokeh does – it compliments the subject without detracting from it.
  • Leonardo used light and shadow to bring out his model’s face.
  • And, of course, the Mona Lisa is doing something special. She’s smiling that world famous smile.

It’s safe to say, Leonardo da Vinci knew a little bit about portraiture.

If you want to improve your art, look at art. Look at the work of artists who came before you. There are lessons to be learned from every artist, great and small. You just have to show up for the lecture.

References:

Mona Lisa – Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo,
The Louvre

 

SL Photography: 6 ways to take a great profile photo

Kultivate Contributor Myra Wildmist is back with more ways to enhance your SL Profile Photo:

Time to get fancy.

Last time, in the article, Taking your profile picture, I focused on the technical aspects of taking a profile photo – changing your image size, changing your lens settings, etc. In this article, I’ll focus on more stylistic issues, things you can do to take better portraits.

A creative disclaimer: Art is a creative process. There are no hard and fast rules, and great art often breaks accepted rules.The following “rules” are meant to help you take better portraits. If you follow them, you’ll probably end up with a good or even great profile photo. But feel free to break them.

Continue reading “SL Photography: 6 ways to take a great profile photo”

Kultivate Magazine’s January 2017 Issue Preview!

On January 1, 2017 the next issue of Kultivate Magazine will be published! This issue will be a special edition issue and will feature over 40 images from the great artists of Kultivate. The issue will also feature  Bento from A to Z (everything from bento heads to the technical know how), CasperTech, Mr. SL 2017, The Abstract Lines Art Gallery, Mainland Bridges, January 2017 Edge Stylists’ Looks, New Year’s Resolutions, & 2017 Second Life Predictions. Very special thank you to Anouk Lefavre for the cover image:

january-17-issue-cover

The December Issue of Kultivate Magazine is Now Available!

The December issue of Kultivate Magazine is now available! This issue will feature 3D artist, Haveit Neox, Ghee Co-Owner & Top Model Beatrice Serendipity, poet Kile Koba, Seanchai Library’s The Dickens Project, Baycity , Winter Art, DSA Aircraft, The Wastelands Sim, the new Linden Labs experience, Horizons; and a year review of Kultivate’s fashion division, The Edge. Click the cover below to read the issue:

december-2016-windlight-cover

Kultivate Magazine’s December Issue Preview!

On December 1, 2016, the next issue of Kultivate Magazine will be published. This will be our last issue of 2016, so we made sure it is full of stories for you! This issue will feature 3D artist, Haveit Neox, Ghee Co-Owner & Top Model Beatrice Serendipity, poet Kile Koba, Seanchai Library’s The Dickens Project, Baycity , Winter Art, DSA Aircraft, The Wastelands Sim, the new Linden Labs experience, Horizons; and a year review of Kultivate’s fashion division, The Edge. Below is the cover of this packed issue:

december-2016-windlight-cover

SL Photography: Taking your profile picture

Kultivate Contributor Myra Wildmist is back with another photography tip. This time she demonstrates how to take your profile picture in Second Life:

Today, we’re finally going to take a profile picture. Yay! I’ll walk through this step by step, hopefully making it easy to understand. If you have any questions or need help, feel free to contact me in world – I want everyone to take the best profile pics your system will allow.

Continue reading “SL Photography: Taking your profile picture”

SL Photography: The problem with SL image defaults.

Kultivate Contributor Myra Wildmist is back with another SL Photography Tip, this time she discusses what is wrong with SL image defaults:

Before I move on to portraiture and profile photos, it’s worth taking a look at the default sizes and aspect ratios of the images used throughout Second Life (SL). These have been gone over by others in numerous blogs and forum post, but I think it’s worth reviewing.

To its credit, SL allows you to associate an image with almost everything you’d want. You can put an image on your land, your profile, your profile picks, and lots of other things. That’s really nice and handy – a picture is worth a thousand words, and all of that.

Continue reading “SL Photography: The problem with SL image defaults.”

Kultivate Magazine’s November 2016 Issue is Now Available!

The November 2016 Issue of Kultivate Magazine is now available!  The following topics are in this issue: Inara Pey explores 360 Panoramic Photography in Second Life, Veruca Tammas explores the Outer Garden sim, Ilyra Chardin has an Autumn Art photo series, Kamille Kamla interviews poet Cortes Guitterz, The Edge Stylists showcase their November stylings, and Stavaros discusses avatar proportion. Our spotlights this month are on Zuri Rayna, The White Gallery, and Spookyboo Puddleglum. Very special thank you to Spookyboo Puddleglum for our cover image:

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SL Photography: Wide-angle effects

Kultivate Contributor Myra Wildmist is back with another tutorial! This time she demonstrates how to create wide-angle effects:

In our last few articles, we’ve been focusing on wide-angle lenses – the 20mm and 24mm lenses. As I mentioned, since they open of the field of view (FoV), widen it, they’re great for landscapes and capturing interiors.

Continue reading “SL Photography: Wide-angle effects”

Kultivate Magazine’s October Issue is Now Available!

The October 2016 issue of Kultivate Magazine is now available! You can click the cover below to read the issue. This issue features the art of Sandi Benelli, photographer Amy Beebe, Potomac Homes Owner & Creator, Winter Loxely, Bird Art, Live Performer Ceci Dover, Charity in Second Life, Wanderlust Bench Art Park, the Sarawak Sim, and Faster Pussycat and Bender owner & designer, Honey Bender!

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Kultivate Magazine's October Issue is Now Available!

The October 2016 issue of Kultivate Magazine is now available! You can click the cover below to read the issue. This issue features the art of Sandi Benelli, photographer Amy Beebe, Potomac Homes Owner & Creator, Winter Loxely, Bird Art, Live Performer Ceci Dover, Charity in Second Life, Wanderlust Bench Art Park, the Sarawak Sim, and Faster Pussycat and Bender owner & designer, Honey Bender!

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SL Photography: Simulating a 24mm lens

Kultivate contributor, Myra Wildmist, discusses how you can simulate a 24mm lens in Second Life:

Last time we looked at how you could use Firestorm (FS) Phototools to mimic a 20mm wide-angle lens. This time we’re going to look at simulating a 24mm lens.

Lenses between 20-24mm in focal length are considered ultra wide-angle lenses. In real life, they’re often used for landscape, architectural, and interior photos. In Second Life, they’re useful for the same tasks, plus they’re good for capturing an entire sim.

Continue reading “SL Photography: Simulating a 24mm lens”

Kultivate Magazine’s October Issue Preview!

On October 1, 2016 the next issue of Kultivate Magazine will be published! This issue will feature the art of Sandi Benelli, photographer Amy Beebe, Potomac Homes Owner & Creator, Winter Loxely, Bird Art, Live Performer Ceci Dover, Charity in Second Life, Wanderlust Bench Art Park, the Sarawak Sim, and Faster Pussycat and Bender owner & designer, Honey Bender! Very special thank you to Sandi Benelli for the cover images below:

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Simulating a 20mm lens in SL

Kultivate Contributor Myra Wildmist is back with a new tutorial. This time she demonstrates how to simulate a 20 mm lens in SL:

Last time, I showed how to change your Phototool settings to mimic different types of lens. I’m going to review this, again, because using different lens isn’t at all intuitive to people in Second Life. It’s very confusing, in fact. But if you learn to do this, it’s a very powerful photography technique.

You can mimic any real life lens in Phototools by looking up the tech specs for the lens you want to use. For the 20mm in this example, I use the AF-S NIKKOR 20mm as my guide, but the specs from any 20mm lens will do fine.

Continue reading “Simulating a 20mm lens in SL”

Kultivate Magazine September 2016 Issue Preview!

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On September 1, 2016 the next issue of Kultivate Magazine will be published. This issue features MadPea Productions, Sheba Blitz, Katy Dirkle, The Vordun Gallery, Blanche Foxclaw, Bonefacio and AIM, Autism Awareness, Lakeside, fashion and modeling certification importance, Caltrinara’s Bar, and guest contributor Sparkie Cyberstar has an awesome photo essay!