Zombies, Photography Tips, Windlight & Opaque Math in Second Life

Shoregate, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fun (adult)

One of the things I like about the changes being made to Shoregate is that I can stand outside the gates and cam in to take photos. This has nothing to do with fear of zombies *cough*, it’s just easier to concentrate when nothing is trying to eat your brains.

I’ll use this location to distract you from a random collection of tips & tools I’ve collected recently. I know you’ll all use them to much better effect that I. :)

Eupa recently shared a group of machinima tutorials by Erythro Asimov. They’re very good and include a lot of information beneficial to photographers as well. One tip he shares is how to save a region’s windlight so you can use it again. The instructions assume you’re using Firestorm, so for those on the official viewer I’d like to expand on something I told you about last year.

Shoregate, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fun (adult)

This is what I said then:

The Lab made changes to the Environment Settings window last year to allow estate owners to define default windlight settings for their land. On the positive side that means we know what creators want their land and builds to look like – heavy fog or red dusk etc.

The bad news is that it means sometimes you land and it’s dark or the sun’s angle isn’t right for taking photos. The changes mean that if (in the main Viewer) you don’t know what the default setting is you can’t manipulate it. The Edit Sky Preset tabs aren’t enabled unless you choose a Windlight Setting.

If you want to use the creator’s default settings, but still make some changes to them, you have a few choices. You can guess and try and come close; if they provide that information you can select their setting (if you have it); or you can take advantage of a bug in the Viewer (just don’t tell a Linden about this, I’ll be really pissed off if they fix it).

Standing on a region where you want to manipulate the region default Windlight, but don’t know what it is:

  • Open the Edit Sky Preset window and select a Windlight setting. It doesn’t matter which one, but you want to enable those tabs that you need.
  • Open the Edit a Water Preset window (World/Environment Editor/Water Presets/Edit). Select a preset. It doesn’t matter which you choose or even if you can see any water around you.
  • Use the little X in the corner to close the Edit a Water Preset window. You’ll see your environment switch back to the region default, however the tabs in the Edit Sky Preset window will remain enabled. You can now manipulate the region default Windlight without knowing what it is.

If you now want to add this Windlight to your permanent collection, change the name of the preset and save it. The settings on that region will be stored for you to access without doing that little dance.

Shoregate, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fun (adult)

One of the things I did on my vacation was to spend time online doing photography tutorials. I’m not much of a photographer in real life and all those camera settings are pretty much gibberish to me. Most of the information escaped my brain as soon as I received it, but one thing made an impression.

Most of you will already know about HDR – even your cell phone will allow you to do this. It involves taking exactly the same image 3 times at different shutter speeds. You can then use PS, Gimp, or specialized applications to merge them. This will (in an over-simplified summary) give you a way to reveal more detail in dark shadows etc.

I tried playing with a lot of the camera settings in SL in order to accomplish this process inworld. The difficulty I had (apart from my general ignorance) is that I couldn’t figure out a way to mimic different shutter speeds.

Now, I have avoided using filters on my images – I just couldn’t see the value to me of trying to make them look old, or weird. I mean, working with Windlight can do enough craziness for my purposes. Trying to use the functionality of something like HDR was an attempt to just get better photos. It turns out there’s a filter which can be used to try and achieve the results of HDR, without having 3 photos or different shutter speeds.

You can find it (and other cool stuff) in the free version of Perfect Effects 8. I’ve been playing with them a lot! (Note: by the time you read this they have probably moved on to later iterations of the product so search for the “free version” of whatever the latest number is.)

Shoregate, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fun (adult)

I also spent a long time playing with the camera debug settings. Most of these only take effect when you turn on Depth of Field, so I also experimented with changing them while minimizing blur.

When I was seeking ways to mimic shutter speeds I discovered that the default settings in SL are for a 35mm lens with a 3:2 aspect ratio. This seemed like something it would be interesting to play with, so I set out to optimize the camera for my screen aspect ratio and try different lens. However……

This is an actual quote from the wiki entry on these settings: CameraAspectRatio – “Camera aspect ratio for DoF effect” — Set this to the aspect ratio of the camera you’re modelling. For example, a 35mm camera has an aspect ratio of 3:2 (1.5). Second Life will use this as a frame of reference for how field of view and focal length must be adjusted depending on window size.

I’m not a math genius, but even I know that an equation requires more than 3:2 = 1.5. WTF do you do if you want 4:3? or 5:3? How did 3:2 translate to 1.5? Do I move the number up or down? How much?

I’ve tried a variety of things and can’t give you much help with this. If you figure it out, please let me know!

Zombies are much easier to understand. :)

Shoregate, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fun (adult)
Leave a comment


  1. Hi Honour…

    They’re leaving something out…3:2 translates to 1.5 to 1. You need to do a little math and reduce the ratios to that same factor. I’m not explaining it well but in terms of traditional film sizes:

    35mm = 36mmx24mm = 3:2 = 1.5:1

    Medium format
    645 = 6cm x 4.5cm = 4:3 = 1.33:1
    6×6 = 1:1

    Large Format
    4×5/8×10 = 4in x 5in = 5:4 = 1.25:1

    Clear as mud, eh? Sorry.

    • ahhh now that makes much more sense!
      thank you :)

    • I should have said that the point of this is that the same focal length has different amounts of depth of field depending on the size of the film used (or sensor). That is, a 50mm lens is considered “normal” in a 35mm camera, a moderate wide-angle in medium format and very wide in large format, with the equivalent increasing amount of DoF.

      That’s a lot of numbers, The good thing though, is that since we are basically seeing what we get in a picture right away,I doubt it matter all that much, just adjust the sliders until you get the DoF you want.

      • I actually that variable on my list – it was the math for that one other setting that stumped me:p

  2. Thanks for sharing. That ‘little bug’ in the SL viewer is a sneaky one *shh’s* I’ll have to try it out – since I use the SL viewer, all this time I’ve been automatically adjusting my windlight settings, probably back to something similar to the builder’s default, to take photos, without questioning why my viewer didn’t reflect them in slidable sliders!

    I hope others find your Perfect Effects 8 suggestion useful. I use an old version of Paint Shop Pro (7) and there are two simple ‘filters’ I apply there from time-to-time in both RL and SL photos, “Clarify” and “Fade Correction”, both of which are found under Effects… > Enhance Photo… I have dabbled in ‘HDR’ in RL… ( although I think your statement “even your cell phone will allow you to do this” is a little hopeful, perhaps the word “maybe” should be applied to that sentence ;) ) With HDR you have to choose your subject well and take the time to set it up I find, and then apply the merge back at base… it can feel like a faff when I’m not in the mood for anything other than pointing and shooting! There is a memorable example of mine here (the first one at http://bmhonline.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/cycling-photography-and-deviantart) I wonder if there are similar useful tools in GIMP, which I rarely use but I know others do…

    • Gorgeous shots!
      As for the cell phones – I was quoting what that wikipedia explanation of HDR said. I think it’s called bracketing – but since my phone barely handles calls I can’t swear to it :p

  3. Perfect Effects 8 is a wonderful program. In fact I got a special offer to buy Perfect Photo Suite 8 for $49.99 and jumped at it, but I use Perfect Effects 8 the most and they include the old Perfect Effect 4 filters/actions in it too.

    • Er I’m JMB Balogh!

    • I don’t know what was in 4 – but I agree with you about 8:)

    • underwatercameraranks

       /  July 29, 2014

      I second Perfect Effects 8. I absolutely love it. It’s also extremely accessible for people who are relatively new to creating photographic effects. Although, I sure wasn’t lucky enough to pay $50 for it. I paid the full price ($100). jmb1, how did you manage to get such a good deal? I’m jealous. :)

  4. I think a underestimated topic before photos is monitor calibration. Is not necessary spend a lot of money for a professional calibrator, for example i use a little Pantone tool (sw+hw) and for sure difference is visible (before and after). This become also more important because Linden client is going on update PNG libraries (libpng), supporting also ICC profiles.

    • good point – I have two monitors attached and they’re obviously calibrated differently
      I’ve been meaning to deal with this – thank you for reminding me!

  5. Thank you, Honour – and all respondents! (Mireille Jenvieve has much to learn…)
    Smiles and wanders off to take a few shots here and there…

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