sI’ve always loved making nice snapshots in Second Life, or the art of ‘virtual photography’.
But if you want to make pictures that look real nice, you need a big fat super duper computer and wonderful internet connection, not something we all can afford.
Until now this has kept good top level SL photography a hobby and even job for the lucky few.
And even if you have a pretty good computer, like I do, making photos at busy events in laggy sims with all the bells and whistles such as wonderful light and shadows… things start to slow down dramatically and sometimes makes it even impossible to work.
Getting things to look just right for a great picture has always been quite an effort and/or required a lot of patience.
Recently I’ve been using SLGo a LOT more, thanks to the addition of the Firestorm viewer.
But I’ve also started using SLGo to make snapshots in SL and although at first I thought SLGo would not be very suitable for this, I’ve now changed my mind and truly love doing it.
I’d go as far as saying that SLGo has made me fall in love with SL photography again.
Because SLGo allows me to make pictures with the full ultra settings my computer barely manages without any lag or even slowing down SL.
And best of all, it even allows me to do this on my 5 year old Macbook!
You can take a look at all my SLGo made snapshots here in my Flickr album.
Although I generally prefer to first check all snapshots before I put only a selection online, I no longer really need to do this because the odds of grey avatars popping into the frame has gone down drastically thanks to SL improvements but also the amazing speed of SLGo.
Still, SLGo is not (yet) perfect and if you decide to start using it for photography there are a few things to keep in mind and suggestions that could improve the experience.
Even though you don’t really need to check pictures before uploading them, I am sure many people still would like that option, if only to pick the best of the series you’ve made during an event.
You can’t save to your disk so either email them to yourself, an option that I’ve found can cause quite a few errors when the image is big.
So I prefer sending them straight to Flickr, which makes them public right away.
I think it would be great if an extra option was added to the upload window of Flickr that allows you to set it to public or private.
I am not sure if this is something the Firestorm viewer must do or the SLGo people or both together.
But this way you can send a whole load of pictures to Flickr and then sort out the bad ones.
Another thing that is a bit annoying is that the photo window doesn’t remember all your settings.
It remembers the Metadata (name, tags, etc) which is great, but it forgets the custom settings.
I like making big pictures of about 3000 pixels and I don’t like having to set that every time I want to make a photo after I’ve logged off.
It would also be great to be able to choose a group or album you want to upload your pictures to, even though of course this does add a risk of flooding a group.
A bigger problem, one that might not be easily solved because it involves your internet connection I think, is that quite often the image on my screen gets a bit fuzzy.
This isn’t a problem when you’re gaming and running around shooting, but if you’re making a photo it can be quite annoying, especially if you’ve got depth of field activated which purposely makes part of your screen fuzzy and you may find it hard to figure out which fuzziness is good and which is bad.
It would also be nice to be able to increase the resolution of the window.
Because right now my screenshots look better than my live screen.
Anyway, the disability to download textures to your computer made me at first think SLGo wouldn’t be very attractive to the many professional photographers in SL, but in the end it turns out to be not that much of an issue.
This will allow us all to make brilliant SL screenshots and that in turn will perhaps help make people realise the SL graphics have actually moved on a bit from 2007….
Another thing I find annoying is that after a while of ‘inactivity’ you get logged off, which is understandable but SL is one of those programs you quite often keep running on the background while you do other work.
A bit of photoshop, sending an email, all the time keeping an eye on the SL window or just using SL because you love listening to the music stream in a club while you work on something else… and then suddenly, you get logged off.
And one last suggestion to the folks at SLGo, how about a SLGo Flickr group where we can all upload our wonderful screenshots?
Just give the go ahead and I’ll set it up.
One final request to all your photographers (to be) out there.
If you succeed in making the most stunning SL pictures, make sure you share them and upload a few to Wikipedia Commons without any copyrights.
Yes, that will mean people will be allowed to use them for whatever they want, but it will be great publicity for Second Life because this is often a place journalists look first when they need copyright free material for their articles, so that is why they sometimes end up with very very outdated screenshots.
The ones I’ve uploaded there have already been used in articles, showing people that SL can look good and at the same time giving my sim some free attention.