Yesterday’s secret brings up a few issues that I fret about when working on my column. The first is the obvious fact that it’s impossible to see all the work produced by people in Second Life. There’s a minimum of three photo repositories with Flickr, KoinUp and Deviant Art. There are unknown hundreds of blogs and over a dozen feeds. Of course, I miss great photos. I bet there are a few dozen great pictures for every one I happen to highlight. The second issue is simply that taste is subjective. If someone else were writing this column, they would choose different pictures. I try to step back and recognize the skill that is evident in photos outside my personal comfort zone and I can find a reason to like the photo. However, there are types of photos I don’t like and no amount of objective recognition of technique will overcome that.
The more important issue is the fear that some people are discouraged by this blog, rather than motivated and inspired. I can understand feeling discouraged. Sometimes I see some piece of artwork and I know that no matter how much I try, I can never be that good. Sometimes the imagination and creativity of other people makes me envious, recognizing that my creativity runs in other directions and that my own work is so much more prosaic. However, if we were all Picasso, he wouldn’t be special, would he? I have to remind myself that I take pictures and blog because doing it gives me pleasure – not to seek external validation. Every week there are more good pictures than I can feature. Dozens of good and great pictures don’t get added for many reasons, please don’t let this column discourage you from enjoying your art and taking pride in your pictures.
I love the work of Paola Mills. Funnily enough, I have admired her work since long before I started to do this column so I somehow got it in my head that I had already featured her work. She does lovely chiaroscuro pictures such as this one with its velvety blackness casting her body into bold relief where the light shines brightly. This pose and the angle of the shot gives us strong diagonal lines that frame her face. It’s beautifully done. I like the half-open eyes that are so much more suggestive of another presence outside the frame than closed or fully open eyes might be.
Paola Mills has a creative way of looking at the world and has many photos that make you think and wonder what the story behind the photo may be. This one is called The Way of the Heart. It’s clearly THAT WAY! I love the pointing finger in the foreground, the layering over the sky and water. With the perspective and the close-in shot, she seems almost like a giant goddess pointing the way.
Introspection is another fabulous photo. While very different from the others I highlight, it still exemplifies common elements of all her work – the use of different angles to give a fresh and insightful perspective, exploring the human body as a way to see into the mind and heart. Curiosity and creativity are always a part of her work. So definitely click on through to her photostream and get swimming.
I love this picture from Evion Ember for Another Damn SL Blog. I remember reading a comment from someone criticizing a blog photo that said bloggers should never photograph clothes in front of a background that is the same color and thinking how misguided that advice was. I agree that you need to take care so that the colors work together and not against each other, but shooting red on red or black on black can be fabulous. Perhaps learning hardanger as a kid makes it easy for my to understand how color on color can be exciting and beautiful. It sure is in this photo. Of course, that come-hither-or-else look in her eyes doesn’t hurt either.
I like this photo from Sid Rufus for her self-titled blog. I love the wash of light coming in from the left and the natural blurring it creates on the subject’s left side. I like the pose and the tension it creates with her walking out of the frame but turning in as she does. It does seem to capture that moment when you are walking outside, the air fresh and cool except for the heat of the sun and so you stop, and close your eyes and turn your face toward the sun and let the heat soak into your bones. That’s what this photo captures, the magical healing power of turning into the sun and letting it embrace you with its heat.
In this photo from Aeon Perian for Modavia Fashion Marketing Blog, you can again see how even though the subject is moving out of the frame, that turn toward the frame with the upper body makes the picture work beautifully and gives a sense of movement arrested for a moment. This pose is so very red carpet that its perfect for the high fashion look. I love the background he choose that suggests a step and repeat. He also really captured my attention with the placement of the avatar to suggest casting two shadows, though looking closely you will see the second shadow is not him, but that suggestion is a bit of sly wit that made me smile and really enjoy this picture.
This photo from Nana Minuet is pure and simply beautiful. Who can resist such a unabashedly romantic picture as this complete with flowers in her hair and even a dove flying up into the sky? She titled her post Waiting for Spring. If she’s serenading spring into the world, I hope she’s playing a fast song.
I like this photo from Endija Sella for her Flickr microblog Weirdster. Shot from above, the subject appears so vulnerable, yet still defiant. Looking right into the lens, so to speak, her arms crossed in that mix of defensiveness and courage we are all familiar with. I love the emotional power of this photo.
This picture from Bronson Twine for McGreavy Place is a perfect example of photos outside my comfort zone that I still like because they are so well done they overcome my natural inclination to skip on past them. The subject is off-center and looking up toward us, since the angle is from slightly above. There are strong diagonal lines to get our neural receptors all excited and paying attention. It tell a story, a very gruesome story. The image is powerful and creates a strong visceral reaction – which is the point.
I like this photo from Amie Optera for her blog Amie’s Way. I assume the mast and riggings from a sailboat or ship is casting the shadows. It has such a tranquil, contemplative mood. I like the story it suggests of a quiet swim as the sun rises and wrapping a towel around for warmth as you walk out of the water. Having grown up on a lake and enjoyed many pre-dawn swims, I can promise you, it’s nippy in the morning. Refreshing and lovely, but the minute you get out of the water, that breeze feels so chilly, even the gentle breeze that lifts just a few strands of her hair. Even if this photo didn’t remind me of where i grew up, though, it would still create an emotional response with its quiet and gentle mood.
Pictures don’t always have to be pleasant to be powerful. This one from Elysium Elide on the Festival of Sin’s event blog is a disturbing capture of a moment of wrath – and murder. Her technique of layering a copy of the picture over itself intensifies the color and works so perfectly for capturing this intense moment. I love how the angle of the counter leads your eye right to the couple and the fateful blow with the knife.
This photo from Tyra Eiren for El diablo viste Second Life caught my eye because the angle and the crop makes it so dynamic. There is something wild and free about this photo – a bit of devil may care bravado. Her body’s angle gives us this strong diagonal across the frame that catches our attention. The rich saturated colors, probably from a similar technique to Ely’s and the kinetic movement of the hair she chose all come together in an exciting snap.
I like this snap from Renee Parkes for Dream World. It has the look of one of those street fashion snapshots taken by fashion bloggers and magazine columnists that capture fashion in the wild, so to speak.
I like this photo from Veenya Venter for V for Veenya. As a picture to highlight shoes, it works having them be so boldly in the foreground and to use depth of field to take the rest of the picture out of focus. The strong diagonal works to lead us to the subject’s face which is still visible and while out of focus, clear enough to see her expression. I love the angle of the shot and the close crop on the boot.
Before posting this column, I just wanted to encourage all of you who enjoy taking pictures to remember that the real reward is the fun and the personal pleasure you get from doing something you enjoy. The reward of coming up with an idea for the photo, making it come together and having it work is what keeps me shooting and blogging. Don’t worry if your photoshop skills are not advanced. Most of these photos are not heavily photoshopped and you don’t need photoshop to take good photos. Just keep taking pictures and enjoy the act of doing something you like doing.