Serenity Gardens, Contemplating Realism in Second Life

Serenity Gardens (general)

I haven’t shared a garden for a while, so today’s destination is the sea level build on Milova. Up in the air you’ll find the Savoir Faire shapes and poses store, but on the ground you’ll find Serenity Gardens.

Serenity Gardens (general)

I was thinking about my fondness for super-realism as I explored, and the fact that I can still love the “un-real” ability to walk through an impressionistic landscape. This made me also consider a debate I’ve been trying to ignore about whether or not images of Second Life still have value if they’ve been photo-shopped.

My brother, who actually reads this blog, assures me that I’ve been far too cranky lately. So, I’m not venting here, I’m just going to gently offer my own opinion.

Serenity Gardens (general)

I would suggest that, unless you’re capturing a moment to serve as evidence in a criminal trial, a photographer’s job (even a virtual photographer) is to try and present the best version of what they saw and how they felt when they saw it.

Post-processing is no more “un-real” than changing windlights, using depth of field, creating interesting angles, moving the sun, or de-rendering that avatar you don’t want in the frame.

Serenity Gardens (general)

As long as physical world photographers can use filters, and then airbrush out zits on a face, inworld camera buttons and image manipulation software are fair use tools.

We are creating something that speaks of us – you can do it differently. It’s not like there are rules about this. :)

Serenity Gardens (general)
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  1. Processing (either during capture or post-capture) has been part of photography since the inception of photography. During capture use neutral density (ND) gradient filters to allow the film (or the sensor) to record details that would otherwise be lost (e.g. when the sky is too bright); we use polarisers to tame the reflections of window panes, eyeglasses, or the sea. We use colour correction filters to compensate for the crazy white balance we get from artificial light. We use ND (non-gradient) filters to force the camera to need long exposure times so that we can make moving objects disappear or blur the movement of water. We use coloured (gradient or not) filters to create impressive sunsets, dusks or to counteract the high-altitude haze on the mountains. We use net filters to blur a portrait and flatter a person’s face. And I could go on forever – just point your browser to the websites of companies like B+W, Cokin, Lee Filters or Tiffen and you’ll see an immense range of filters to put on your camera and create the effect and feel you want.

    Frankly, changing the windlight and the sun’s position during capture in Second Life is really tame compared to the sort of things you can do with filters on an RL camera. And applying DoF in SL is no different than selecting certain apertures for DoF in RL; likewise, changing view angles during capture in SL is the same as zooming in or out in RL, or changing prime (fixed focal length) lenses on a camera with interchangeable lenses.

    Doing all this to get a good shot in SL is not different from what a photographer does in RL in any way whatsoever.

    Now, let’s get to post-processing. It’s been around since the days of Ansel Adams, perhaps even before him. The great landscape master (and mountaineer) not only used grad filters extensively on his huge, wooden view cameras, but also worked on them post-capture a lot; he developed each sheet of film according to the exposure settings he used, and then, while printing, he would dodge and burn (google these terms please) judiciously (but also extensively) to bring out the very last bit of detail in the picture.

    And, of course, cropping is a form of post-processing as well; it’s used to cut out unwanted bits, to strengthen the composition etc.

    Why is this “not real”?

    Maybe I should refer to toning? Sepia toning? Selenium toning?

    And I’m only talking about what happens in the analogue dark room, without even touching upon more advanced (or crazy) techniques for things like perspective correction in photos where tilt & shift lenses were not used. And I’m not even touching upon what’s done in Photoshop…

  2. /me agrees totally

  3. Your sister reads it too.. She just doesn’t understand very much of it :)

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