One of the great gifts of Second Life® is that it is predominantly a creation of its participants. The terra, the flora and the fauna are what we make the to be. Whether we craft our worlds from our dreams or our nightmares, they are reflections of us. The crass and garish business-in-a-box mall with flickering billboards and constant popup greeters is as honest a reflection of human values as the bucolic meadows and streams undisturbed by anything louder than the flutter of butterfly wings. What we craft comes from within, from what we know and what we value. And so our sim builders and owners give us everything from the mundane to the Spectacular Spectacular and all stops between. And then photographers chronicle and document and transform those scenes with their own vision.
Carlotta Ceawin is someone who documents Second Life’s beautiful scenery in stunning landscape photos such as this one of the familiar, often photographed The Far Away by AM Radio. I chose this from among her many landscapes because it is such a familiar image so you can see how her unique vision comes through in the work. The basic rules of composition are used to draw us in. Her horizon breaks at a third and the subjects are off center. Then her artistry takes over. The lowering sky is a brighter blue and clouds speak of sunny days, not coming storms. The texture layer over the original photo gives it a painterly feeling and the similar values emphasize the complementary yellow and blue relationship. Instead of the more customary mood of isolation and alienation of the huge open prairie, we can sense the homey contentment and optimism that can lead people to settle there.
This piece by Carlotta Ceawlin is very different at first look, but you can see the same aesthetic running through it. In both pictures, she focuses on the color story and the sky. The subject in both photos, the landscape and its objects is simple and serves to highlight colors and the sky. Again she uses a texture layer to add dimension and richness. Her composition would make a good raw photo even before she worked her magic with textures and contrast. Please do take a look at her works. She has many glorious landscapes that should not be missed.
Who can resist a photo of such pure, undiluted joy like this one from Minolya Preis for her blog, Fashion Kawaii Colors? I really love this photo or I would never send you to a site that has auto-playing music. So, if you’re on break at work, turn off the volume before you click through. As you can see, the horizon falls on a horizontal third and the photo is framed and grounded by the building on the left. The mood is happy and joyful in the background as well as on the avatar’s face. It’s a lovely, simple photo enlivened by a sense of whimsy and fun.
This is a photo from Syra Hyun that she shared on her self-titled blog. She shot it for The Pretty Bald in Pink campaign – an unusual cancer awareness campaign where people can style themselves bald and make an appointment with the one of the campaign’s photographers for a shoot. Participants are provided with official ribbons to incorporate into their shoot/styling. The Flickr Pool for the campaign is a delight to see and full of great photos. Some, like Syra Hyun, were inspired to shoot their own pictures and submit them. This one is just stunning and dreamlike with the subdued colors, the sheer fabric drapery and the avatars in their levitating dance. You should also check out that photo pool, and if you have time, see if you can style yourself for a shoot to raise awareness of breast cancer and the need for vigilance and research.
This photo from Strawberry Singh is powerful and striking and not just because it bends some of the usual conventions of fashion photos by placing the subject in shadow with the sun behind her. This works in part because seen from behind, the structural details of the dress come into sharp relief. The shadow, in essence, reveals what we might not see fully illuminated. She also places the subject in the center. That is reinforced by the powerful lines of the pillars leading to the window and its peaked arch. However, notice that she is turned slight to one side and that it’s not perfectly centered at all. The slight off-kilter element gives us some unconscious work that will make us take a closer look – and fully engage with the picture to see its subtle beauty.
This photo from Natalee Oodles of Style Minions is fabulous. The color scheme is wonderful and redolent of autumn. With her closed eyes, you can almost smell the crisp fall air, the dry powdery scent of fallen leaves, the tangy aroma of ripened sumac and crab apples, the tang of fallen fruits underfoot and you can hear the susurration of the dry, brittle grasses and wheat rustling against each other. Autumn is not just a visual feast and this picture conveys that. Many people avoid trying to shoot pictures with eyes closed because it seems difficult unless you know how. Thankfully, the always generous with her talent Strawberry Singh has a tutorial to help you.
I love how in this photo for SLexy Fashionists , Katya Jhamin gets the landscape so close that it becomes abstract, bold splashes of color in shapes that are echoed in the outfit. The road forms a powerful leading line that forms the foundation while the roadside vegetation gives us big abstract shapes. It’s all a bit of kilter and that is made even more prominent by framing it in a poloroid snap frame. It’s a cute form to use and works perfectly with this clever shot.
I like this triptych from Atteris Amarth for False Mirrors. Diptychs and triptychs are fairly common in Second Life blogs and function well enough for the purpose of showing clothing, but seldom work as art because most people see them as individual photos that are merely put together to save space. In real word fashion photography, they are more catalog than editorial. However, they can function as art instead when the photographer integrates the three shots into a single piece. Critical elements to making that work is to have the single shots look toward, not away, from each other. As you can see, even the one on the left that has the subject turned away from the other two panels, she is looking over her shoulder back at the other two. Using different angles and zooming in or out also makes the photos seem related to each other more effectively than if the three panels are from the same camera angle and the only difference is pose position. This is a new blog and one with many great photos. I am always excited to discover new, high quality blogs or, as in this case, find them because another person (Thanks, Thalia!) shared them.
And of course, Thalia Heckroth knows good fashion photos because she is one of the best. This is a a fabulous shot that highlights shoes in a very sexy way. The pose is one that can easily look vulgar and yet does not because of her use of depth of field and shadows to add mystery. There’s powerful leading lines and strong geometry in this photo. Other elements that enhance its power include how her face is blurred and turned away – increasing the mystery and the allure of the picture. It’s a stunning photo, sexy and erotic and done with exquisite taste.
I love the creep factor in this photo by Chloe Messenger for her blog, The Messenger. This is one of those less is more photos, but cropping away most of the subject’s face and even covering one eye with her hair, the focus on her one visible eye is intense. That is exponentiated by the different color and brightness of the eye. It becomes more immediate and intimate by being off center – seeming unposed and caught in the moment. It’s a great shot.
This photo from Graphic Dix for Modavia Fashion Marketing is fabulous – not least because it’s part of a tutorial on local lights. There’s no one better to provide such a tutorial. This is a raw photo other than adding the text and possibly cropping it so that it is perfectly composed by the rule of thirds. Look at where the floor meets the wall and the position of the avatar on vertical and horizontal thirds. He also followed the rule of odds, giving us three spotlights and three objects, the bucket, the mop and the man. Compositionally everything is spot on, pun intended. Any trip through his photostream, though, will leave you in awe at his understanding of light.