My Settings & Approach to Photos in Second Life

SolAria (moderate)

It’s a good day! I needed to feel some virtual sun on my face after we had downpours in the physical world and so my visit to SolAria↑ was well timed. When I arrived I discovered a sim with the most glorious textures – I don’t honestly care about the guidelines for building that say you shouldn’t use large texture files. When you can achieve the detail and beauty that these do, go for it!

I said I would share my graphics settings etc., and this seems like a good backdrop for those boring details.

The following are not intended to be the “right” ones, they’re just part of a list of what I have (so far) settled on and there aren’t that many. Most of my settings have been suggested by smarter people than I, such as Strawberry Singh↑ (who has a number of tutorials on her blog which will prove far more useful than this).

SolAria (moderate)

I do use Windlight (a lot, I know). My usual objective is to find a soft light that doesn’t detract from the content. Sometimes the creator has a default setting in mind and I try and use them. I also turn on Lighting and Shadows – even if I don’t use shadows. This helps with anti-aliasing and general quality.

OK, now the Advanced Menu:

  • Choose High-Res snapshots if your computer can handle them. You’ll get much better quality and you’ll find it easier to keep the quality if you decide to do some post-production editing.
  • Be kind and mute the sound of your camera – check Quiet Snapshots to Disk.

Further down on the menu, click on Show Debug Settings. You’re not debugging anything here (who names these things?), the little window will pop up so you can adjust some settings not available through the menus.

SolAria (moderate)

I use these:

  • rendervolumeLODfactor  You’ll find this defaults to a low number, meaning sculpties don’t rez unless you’re close to them. I use 14 – but, everytime I lower my graphics settings it goes back to 2, so check it periodically. You might be happy sticking to 5 or 6.
  • meshBytesPerTriangle I have this set at 256. I used to use a lower number but a change to the Lab’s coding meant I had to raise it to see mesh within 96m.
  • meshmaxConcurrentRequests My setting is at 132. Think of this as your mesh cache – if you have trouble seeing some mesh objects, raising the number from the default should help.
  • meshminimumByteSize I have this down at 1. I like detail. :)

To try and get good quality (of the image, not my composition) I choose PNG Lossless in the snapshot window and, unless I’m taking a really large photo, I keep it at screensize. For the big ones I stick to a maximum of 4,000 pixels in any direction (this helps me avoid the tiling bug).

SolAria (moderate)

Once I’ve saved the image to my hard-drive, I use GIMP with plugins↑ to make modifications. It’s free and googling helps me figure out how to do what I want. Usually I just crop them to the size I need for this blog, but I also rescale them to at least 250 x 250 pixel density.

Let me leave you with these thoughts. If I take a good photo it’s because of the content – somebody has created something wonderful. I’ve just tried to capture that.

If my angles or perspective are unusual or different, it’s because I spend a lot of time flying my camera around to find things that I think look interesting – composition is 90% of the result.

Practice is the main way I improve but there are resources out there I try and learn from. In addition to the amazing photographers on the grid, there are sites such as Light Stalking↑ and Gimp Magazine↑. They don’t care what world you’re in and I take advantage. I just wish I had more time to study. :)

SolAria (moderate)
Leave a comment


  1. ahuva18

     /  March 4, 2013

    Those textures are sensational! I always enjoy your photos – love how you capture shadows and sun. But the combination of your lighting work and these textures is simply glorious.

  2. Honour, your images are more than just records of a sim, they are beautiful interpretations, especially these.
    It’s a little outside the scope of this blog post — not really a basic practice — but you can avoid the resetting of graphics functions like LOD and anti-aliasing by editing the featuretable.xml file in your viewer application folder.
    It’s a simple text edit to change the settings to whatever you want your defaults to be. I have the top two levels set for my favourite image-making settings, and have tweaked Mid (my default) to be more suitable for walking around. (One hint: most setting names are easily recognizable, but anti-aliasing is “FSAA Samples”)
    Also for advanced users, I have followed Hitomi Tiponi’s lead and edited a number of the skin files to suit my image-making needs better, especially adding shortcuts to photo-related functions like environment settings.

  3. Your photos are always beautiful and interesting. Thanks for writing this!

  4. Shazaam!! Why didn’t you tell me all this stuff before missy?

  5. Great post, Honour. On Gimp, I would add: to any photo, no matter how “basic” or “complex” it is, I always check how it looks with enhanced colors. To do so, I duplicate the original photo layer and set the new layer to “overlay”. Then, having that layer selected (the one which is on “ovelay” mode, not the original one), I play with light, either by clicking on “Color”, “Levels” and playing with “Input Levels” or by clicking on “Color”, “Curves” and playing with the “Value” channel curve. One can get amazing results just by doing that.

  6. Maveryck Breen

     /  June 4, 2013

    thank you very much for make beautiful pics in my land, i would like to inform that some it is changed now in SOLARIA and i invite you to come back and see the new place i join. It was not easy to build all but i hope you can find other beautiful angle for your pic

    Maveryck Breen

  7. Doesn’t it sound like spam?

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