BTS – On The Beach

First, I will say that this image has  revealed a few issues and created a few frustrations. I will list them right off the top to get them over with.

  1. I am not happy with the pose I created. I created the pose with a specific image in mind but when trying to put that image together, I changed my mind but kept the pose. It wasn’t until late in the process when I really decided I didn’t like the pose but by then it was too late to go back.
  2. The current version of GIMP which I am using (2.10.10) has a ‘new’ option to enable using 32bit floating point precision when editing images. The default is 8 bit and I wouldn’t have considered changing it until watching a video pointing out that it was available and I should be using it….so I did.  When I thought I was all done and went to use Irfanview to resize my image for uploading, the image was much darker than I had created. When I resized using GIMP, they looked fine but upon uploading to this site, the uploaded image was also several shades darker. An hour after back tracking and undoing I finally determined that setting GIMP back to 8 bit before exporting the image resulted in the expected uploads.
  3. Finally (so far!) After sorting the above out, when I uploaded the images for this post I noticed that all of the files I have uploaded since installing the EWWW image optimizer have been converted from the original .png to .jpg format even though I specifically disabled that function. A google search took me to EWWW’s site where 9 months ago, a user complained about this very thing. The response was (paraphrased) “You obviously don’t know what you’re doing so we took care of it for you. If you REALLY  wanted to keep your .png images, justify it to us and we’ll think about it.”  Yeah, I’m looking for a new image optimizer or at the very least, a way to leave the original uploaded files untouched. This server is a backup repository for my original images.  Don’t touch!
  4. Finalcut!  Way back I was given a copy of Finalcut Pro…a $399 value. I decided to use it when creating the videos for this effort. What I am doing is super simple yet nearly every video has been a pain because Finalcut Pro is not intuitive and even when  you think you finally figured out how to do something simple…sometimes it just doesn’t work. It’s not just me. I’ve watched several videos of extremely frustrated users and learned from a coworker that uses it professionally that this is normal.The video created for this one was another frustration. I’m not trying to do anything fancy so rather than continue frustrating myself, I’ll most likely not use Finalcut in the future.  My 29.95 Movie Maker 6 will do the same thing much, much easier..

There!  I feel better now!

Now, onto the process.

This effort began with two pictures only because of the conflict with Aedan’s hat and hair.  I could have just drawn the hair in I suppose (and did later) but to start I wanted a ‘clean’ image with his hair in place and not pouring through the hat. So, after lots of tweaking to get the sun as I thought I wanted it and moving around to get a decent composition, I took the first image.

Hair was removed and the second image was grabbed. Close inspection will reveal that the bird and trees have moved between images so though they are otherwise identical, a choice had to be made about which to use.

Two layer maps were used in GIMP to introduce the gausian blur to items above the wall and gradually, behind the grass at the edge of the sand.

First shot for "On The Beach"
First shot for "On The Beach"

There were many hand-made edits to achieve the final image. The palm tree behind Aedan isn’t blurred as much as the other things that are further away so where they met had to be smoothed over.  Foot prints were needed in the sand so that he didn’t appear to have just dropped in from the sky…and sand added around his left foot that is bearing weight.

Shadows were added where I felt windlight had failed….under the brim of the hat, on his cheeks behind the glasses, along the left side of his torso behind the shirt and on his legs below the shorts (which in hindsight may have been a bit much but I was eager to add shadows 😀 )

 

Finally, concerning Aedan, I manually added hair to his beard and head since I’ve not been able to find what I’m looking for in SL. At this distance it’s unnoticeable unless you’re looking specifically for it. Future images will be closer so hopefully I will have perfected the technique by then!

The final touch was to add a flare and some dirt on the lens but the photographer took the shot with the sun in the wrong place so….he moved until there was solar reflection in the top floor window of the building across the street 😉

Aedan walking the beaches of Havana
Final Image

BTS – The Diner

I will probably say this again and again but I am feeling more comfortable with Gimp with each of these ‘exercises’ that I do. Using layer masks was initially somewhat daunting but now that is becoming second nature and greatly simplifying the task at hand by minimizing the ‘glow’ that I was struggling with image. That ‘glow’ was a side effect of using a mask to cut out pieces and replacing them with bits that were cut from another image. That was not the case this time.

The first photo is the base that everything else was added to. Christi plays both the customer and the waitress but there is only one of her…

 

Part 1
Part 1
Part 2
Part 2

The second image is identical to the first except Christi is now playing the customer.

While examining photo 2 to determine where the customer would be snatched and added to the first photo I noticed that her long mesh skirt didn’t behave so nicely when she was sitting. I considered how to best address then and settled on taking another photo that was identical except she is wearing the short version of the skirt to which I copied bits from the previous photo and applied them where they should have actually been then manually touched up some areas to make it all fit.

Part 3
Part 3
Part 4
Part 4

To create a more realistic scene outside the diner where the light would be much brighter, everything inside the diner was de-rendered and windlight was tweaked to brighten it up.

After applying a gausing blur to the previous image, a layer mask was used to replace the areas that were being viewed through the windows. Another layer mask was used to create shadows were they were missing.  It is when I went to fix the shadows under the table that I realized the windlight settings I used washed out the marble texture in the floor so it took a bit of work to repair that.

Final Image

BTS – El Sombrero

As simple as the story line around this photo was, creating the image was no small deal for me.  I would guess that I easily spent 12 hours preparing for and creating this image. While processing I completely started over once, corrected an issue I saw as much as possible and repeated the steps I knew well by then.

Anypose and Lumipro were both used though in the end, the only thing Lumipro was used for was to animate both avatars through the Lumipro sitball. Anypose is proving to be a godsend because in most cases I would never find an pre-made pose that would fill my need and I would have come to this conclusion after many hours of shopping.  Additionally, I have the option of adding any that might have a wider appeal to my marketplace.  (which I do anticipate doing)

In the beginning.  For “El Sombrero” I required a store to sell the subject hat. I could find nothing suitable in Havana and even traveled to several similarly themed sims but found nothing.  So, I started building a store. It didn’t take long to figure out that I don’t have the building skills to build anything  as realistic as I am demanding. I do now have some not-bad Havana style prim columns…that will probably never be used 😀

With that settled, I returned to Havana and found this building that I felt I could make in to my store if I could rez. Joining the Havana group in world for L250 gave me rez rights. With so many ideas for pics on this vacation, I could have made the previous images easier had I joined the group earlier.

The initial image was photographed with my video settings set to Ultra and the windlight setting as indicated – Nam’s Beach Scene is the initial preset. The only adjustments made was in the time of day and angle.  I was looking for something shortly after noon so the sun is nearly straight overhead.

Original Capture - El Sombrero
Windlight settings - El Sombrero

Havana is a very colorful build.  In most of my pics so far, I’ve felt it necessary to tone down the colors. This would be no different.  Additionally, to make the image more realistic, I needed different lights inside and something to fill the bare walls.  It because quickly obvious that I would need four layers to work with

  1. Aedan
  2. Store Front
  3. Display (w/Christi)
  4. Inside Walls
Attempt to create a mask in world

Using the trick I learned from Natsumi, I rezzed a prim inside the building, pulled it up close to the windows to block out Christi and the display that was already in place. I realized at the time that by pulling it so close to the wall, I lost the windows in the doors.

This wasn’t the only thing wrong with this mask – I failed to notice that the prim wasn’t tall enough to reach to the top of the windows. Though I went back in world for a second chance I wasn’t able to get the camera, viewing angle and Aedan all positioned in the exact same spots again. In the end, I had to piece together several pieces to create a functional mask.

Display Mask - El Sombrero
Aedan's Mask - El Sombrero

And so the journey continued…level adjustments, saturation tweaking, fixing missing shadows and wardrobe issues.  When the inside walls were darkened several issues came to light around the masking. Basically, I had to start over and redo some things to get back to the same point.

When I ‘thought’ I was finally done, it became apparent that all of the masking made the glass in the windows hardly visible….and on such a bright day, wouldn’t there be reflections?  I had an idea in my mind about what would be in the reflections but once I got back in world and moved inside the building, it became obvious that Aedan’s reflection would not be in the window beside him.  In hind sight, it probably wouldn’t be where it ended up at either because the column between him and the door would keep that from happening.

 

View from the pugh - El Sombrero
Reflections - El Sombrero

In the end…I’m basically happy with this image. The windows are too clean – that is bugging me a bit but not enough to change the image since it has been posted to flickr.

Like everyone of these, I feel I’ve learned a lot that will make future edits move more smoothly.  Above all else though, this was fun.  Can’t ask for much more than that.  Now, on with the next adventure!

BTS – Awakened

This image was a compilation of the three images below.

For the record, I’m finding it difficult to stick to my pledge to do this series of images in B/W. I am certain that the daylight photos will be much easier but these requiring night time are challenging to determine the correct level so that they aren’t washed out or just too dark on other’s monitors.  I believe the uploads to youtube – using the same final image – have all been too dark also.  I may have to form a committee and do a study to determine the correct exposure..or just avoid night time b/w photos 🙂

Interior photo taken with a huge white pixel blocking the exterior view

The windows of the airport terminal were a bit tedious for me so I derezzed them then put up a huge white prim (set to bright) with the CAIWL windlight selected for this image of the more mature Aedan waiting patiently.

Next, younger Aedan took the seat and the camera was carried to the window. This image was horizontally flipped, skewed a bit  and..unfortunately I had to hide most of it to keep the reflection from being too busy…including the cat 🙁  (yes, that was the only pose in the seat… )

Windlight was set to Cafe Lighting and the sun adjusted to get some darkness – which proved to be too dark so the exposure was later reduced.

The compiled image – before removing some of the reflection and increasing the exposure of the outside image….and removing the color.

Just testing below...

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