Linden Labs just had a four day “Fashion Week” of their own with fashion “experts” invited to blog and host the forums, posting topics and encouraging conversation. I was one of the people invited to participate. In the other Second Life social media communities there was a bit of discussion about what makes someone an expert. I have been thinking about it quite awhile, ever since I was invited and think perhaps the single most important quality of being an expert is the willingness to enter the fray, to state your opinion and give reasons to back it up. Lots of people have knowledge and opinions, but are not recognized as experts because they don’t jump into the scrum and give voice to their knowledge and opinions. Perhaps they are shy, or too humble to even recognize what they can add to the conversation, or perhaps they fear ridicule or opposition. There’s many reasons to hesitate before risking oneself in public. I hope, though, that I can encourage my readers to share their knowledge and opinions and their expertise – with suggestions of blogs, bloggers, photos and photographers. There’s far too much for any one person to find and share, so join in the fun. It really is a joy to share something good and beautiful with other people.
I have been admiring the work produced by Freya Merryman over at KoinUp for a long time. Her work appeals to my love for the pre-Raphaelites and their beautiful world of beauty and romance. Her work reminds me of John William Waterhouse who seamlessly combined the pre-Raphaelites inspirations with the Impressionists techniques. While shot in Second Life, there is quite a bit of post-processing in her work, such as adding the skirt texture to address the deficiencies of Second Life’s fabric physics. Her collection of work in her KoinUp gallery is quite small, but is well worth exploring. There are several pieces every bit as beautiful as this one.
One of the problems with focusing on fashion blogs is that it bypasses a large section of the SL fashion community that shoots and shares their looks. Over at Flickr®, there’s several micro-blogging fashionistas who post their pictures with the details in the decription. I love this one from Tamzin Xigalia with its shadowy chiaroscuro contrast. Her eyes are powerful, aren’t they? I love the emtional intensity in her glance. High contrasts in light and dark increase the dramatic impact of a photo and heighten its emotions and with her intense gaze, that effect combines perfectly.
I love this picture from Fuzz Lennie for Blacksheep by Fuzz Lennie. This is not shot in shadows like the photo above. It’s well lit with black on a black background to give it drama. Details of the form disappear into the black background, but what’s so fascinating about how we work as observers is that we will in all the missing details. Our minds know what should be there and create form out of shadow. Sure, it’s part of our biological survival system, but it’s wonderful that it also enhances our experience of art. Normally we are told to crop so that the subject looks into the frame. Like all “rules” of art, it’s more a suggestion since once you know and understand the rule, you also know when it’s best to break it. In this case, with her body position poised to move – looking out of the frame encourages our speculation about what is beyond the frame. When a photo engages our mind in a story, it succeeds.
I love the pure unadulterated joy in this photo from Bowie Zeplin. I also love her name. She’s a fanciful fairy. The softly blurred edges add to the dreaminess as does the completely blurred background. Her eyes are closed as she exults in flight. There are diagonals and triangles in this photo that please our pattern-loving eyes, but it’s the pure sense of uninhibited happiness that makes this photo powerful.
I like this picture from Dailyn Holfe for Daily[n] News. The colors are subdued and have cool undertones that put us in mind of chilly, damp mornings before the fog has lifted completely. I think her styling is adorable and I love the elephant bag. She puts the horizon at two-thirds of the way up and has the ferry moving out of the frame, telling us that she’s gotten off the boat which is chugging away and is bound for new adventures and the way she has her hand on her hip, she’s probably waiting for her ride which is late.
I instantly recognize photos from Nienor Savira for NS Style. They are always styled in her own distinctive way, wholeheartedly and completely to the last ring on the last finger. They are consistently well composed and the subject fills the frame. This is just one more in her consistently excellent styling and photography for her blog. I just like this one a little more than usual because she’s looking over her shoulder and her look suggests a conversation is in progress and she can’t believe he just said that.
This picture by Fauna Moonwall for Eclectic Equations is bold and brassy and fun. She cropped the horizon perfectly. If the horizon undulates, you have to decide where on the horizon you make your crop decision. In this case, she cropped so that the horizon line is at the upper third line on the right. Some of that comes from cropping to her body, but her body’s position relative to the horizon was already chosen when the photo was shot. The right makes a strong leading edge because her body is slightly canted that way and that is where her bike is – so that is the direction she will move. I love that she stood right among the grass and let it add depth to the photo. It’s one of the best things about alphas for shoes – the ability to stand in the grass and not have to pay for it with lots of post-processing.
This photo by LouLou Teichmann for her blog La Mia Bauhaus is amazing. This blog was new to me and I know I will have to spend some time paging back through it. The photos are all stunning compositions that show great care and planning combined with a wild and brilliant imagination. Don’t take my word for it, go there and get lost in her blog or her photostream. The usual elements of strong composition are at work, but she adds such clever ways to build geometry and lines. For example, the diagonal line formed by the viola and the birds. The triangles forme by her skirt and her leg, by her arms and the viola and of course, there’s so much drama with the violin and the musical score flying about. It’s so much more than just a fashion shot.
I recognize the spot where Ilary snapped this photo for Orinoco Flow. It’s at Baffle and I have shot many pics there, but tI don’t like any of them as well as this. Sometimes you have to know the rules and then break them. The lighthouse is near, but not on the center, the subject is not on the third vertical line and the horizon is near, but not at the center. Yet it works. However, look at the lines in this photo. The grassy hill, the rocks where the seals are, the waterline along the grass, the direction of the birds and of her gaze. Everything directs you to the lighthouse. Even the darker shadows on the sand head upwards toward the sea and the lighthouse. When you add the magnificent roiling clouds and the texture overlay that gives it a painterly feeling and you get a simply marvelous photo.
This photo by Petra Messioptra for Vitabela is stunning. Some of its power comes from the limited color which removes the distraction of color from our focus and makes us see at a different level. The botton of the tree comes right at the first third and her head is at the intersection of a vertical and horizontal third, so despite the appearance of a centered photo, key elements are placed relative to the rule of thirds. However, the main subject is dead center and it works for two reasons. There are strong leading lines that give the picture energy, from the line of the tree and its echoing shadow to the sweep of the clouds stretching toward the center. I think she must have used CTL-9 to get the clouds to look like that but was close enough t the subject to minimize distortion anywhere but in the sky. The key idea of this photo is the power of that snake woman and centering someone can suggest power if you have leading lines to reinforce that position of power and this photo is rich with power.
This photo from Seashell Dench for Closet Disclosure has such beautiful lighting. There’s a ton of geometry in thsi picture with the exposed framing, but what gives this picture its evocative and slightly soulful mood is that filtered light from the bright sun shining through glass and lighting a dim interior. You can almost see the dancing dust motes.
If this photo from Komachi Lemon for her blog Komachizm does not make you smile, you’re doing it wrong. Her basket tells us she is on an errand, wending her way home and stopping to enjoy the view and perhaps take a little rest after working her way up the hill. We know she’s on a hill despite the flat ground because the trees in the background are lower than the tree on her level. It’s just such a universal moment, that brief respite to savor the day before going back on her way.
I love this photo from Aisya Jewell for Aisya’s Diary. I notice right away that the line of sight from the tin of flowers and her eyes meet back in the blast of light coming through the trees in the background. Everything points toward that bright light, even the subject, but that’s okay because she’s looking at it. Surely someone is coming. Maybe Bambi? It’s the sweet, romantic sort of picture that one imagines deer feeding out of her hand and birds perching on her shoulder.