Tea Party

Tea Party
Tea Party

This image turned out to be a huge effort…bigger than I had imagined. To begin, I needed to find a location for the shot. We explored several places but finally settled on Dim Sum Gardens in SL. Next, Kyashi and Pattie had to find Kimon’s they were happy with. I wasn’t too concerned about Robert.  I knew he had one available though I forgot how old it was and how terribly it fit.

Then there was the search for the tea set that I could place individual items where I wanted them. To make it more difficult, I was initially turning things away because they had handles, unlock traditional cups I had seen for tea servings. After many trips and actually purchasing several sets only to find they would not fill my need, I finally bought some full perm, mesh cups and saucers. They came with textures so I new I could texture them to match the tea pot. I created the textures in photoshop and they looked perfect.

There was also the table – I wanted an empty table to set the tea serving on. Again, I wasn’t able to find what I was looking for but was able to wipe the table clean in photoshop.

I had noticed white things floating in the air but figured photoshop would take care of that. Additionally, I had a cat to add. My list was long but not overwhelming.  Similarly, while shooting, I noticed that I would have to  fix Pattie’s kimono but this was all manageable. So, I took the shot.

Original Tea party Image
Original Tea party Image

It took me a while to notice the tea cups and saucers. I recalled reading complaints about Balck Dragon and transparencies but i didn’t fully appreciate them until now. If you zoom in to the cups you’lll see my problem.  I had created the textures with a transparent layer (in .phg) for no good reason and now I had unrecognizable cups and the only option at this point was to repair them by hand while they played tricks on my eyes.

There were wardrobe issues that I had to address, the building being lit in the background.  Missing ring, fence mending, and tending to the cat to ensure he was sat the right light.  The list of repairs goes on and on.

Finally, there was added lighting and shadows and…and flying tea.

Adding splashing/spilling liquid was a new effort by me. All the videos I found made it look simple and had I not cared what it looked like, it was simple. but I did care and struggled to get the correct settings. Finally, i had to say ‘enough’.  I could have spent a lifetime on this one but I was ready to move on.

I am quite happy with the finished result though. Yet again it was a great learming experience…but hope to do some easier shots for a while.

Onc

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Breathe

Breathe
Breathe

Without sounding like a broken record (hopefully!), this image is yet another created as an artifact to the ‘bigger’ image that Pattie and I are collaborating on. Kyashi and Pattie spent a lot of time shopping for kimonos for the upcoming shot. There were so many to look at!  It was easy to weed out many simply because we didn’t appreciate the fit or style but in the end, there were so many left to choose from that it was difficult.

In fact, Kyashi couldn’t really decide so she bought a fatpack (which means there will be more images of her in a kimono). Then there was the hair piece and socks and shoes.  All this was going on while also searching for and in some instances, creating objects for the ‘big shot’.

Finally feeling quite happy with her choice of kimono, Kyashi couldn’t help but stop and talk to the birds at the gate of Dim Sum Gardens while on her way to take a closer look at the actual photo location.

This is one of the first images taken in the Black Dragon viewer and did require a small amount of post processing. The blurred background was done in world, but highlight was added to most everything in the foreground – flowers, dragon, birds and of course, Kyashi.

Kyashi’s pose was created using the poser in Black Dragon which I love.  There is so much flexibility that it is easy to move the wrong thing and too far. It does take some getting used to but I think it work the effort.

In the end, I was quite happy with the way this one worked out – both during the process and in the final result.

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Believe!

Believe Image
Believe!

I had begun to doubt the day would come when I published this image. It is very much a composite that was plagued along the way by many instances of “oh! it would have been easier if I just….”  So, when the opportunity came to create a profile image for Pattie and her new head, it was a welcome break.  Believe!

Even while working on the other image I was considering just starting over with the original photograph for this scene and then do it as I realized I could have done it much easier.  That was interrupted by my new interest in the viewer Black Dragon after learning that one can also set poses from within the viewer.  Were I to use Black Dragon, Aedan would not have to be composited into this scene…  However, Black Dragon may become a post of it’s own. In short, I’m struggling and may have to actually read the manual!

However, after over a week away from the image, when I opened it again I realized it was very close to being done…too close to start over.  At that point, it required only some shading on his palms and a level adjustment for the entire image.

Getting to that point included taking two photos – one for the primary night scene and a second daytime image to be illuminated by the three sources of light. I didn’t realize that getting such a bright moon near the horizon is not an option in SL these days so to achieve the full bright moon and it’s subsequent moonlight, I used a curves adjustment.

Aedan was shot in the studio using AnyPose and then carefully painted in behind the fire pit.  The fire was added so suddenly that the snow hadn’t even had a chance to melt from the stones or pots 😉

I hadn’t chosen a name for this image until I found a tune I wanted to associate with it.

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Lonely Sunset

Lonely Sunset
Reflecting on recent events and those yet to come...maybe

Recent events in US politics and the second of a more personal nature put me in a state of mind that I have been avoiding for the most part.  I started a PS project unrelated to SL and as of yet unfinished. Rather than jump back to it this morning I went for a virtual walk to Hazardous Inc which I had first visited two days ago and determined to return.

There is yet another shoe that could fall in the next few weeks…or maybe the following month or maybe it won’t fall at all. In the end it does little to worry about the things we can’t change …and so we won’t today!

This is a composite image only because I used lumipro for the face light. Obviously I wasn’t thinking straight at the beginning this shot and could have dialed back the luminosity to better isolate the light to my face.  I did recognize the extra light at the time and took a second shot with Aedan nowhere in the view to better capture the diminished light on this dark side of the swing.  Aedan was then set back on the swing with a mask to eliminate the background of the original shot.

The Lumipro also added light to places I didn’t want it – such as the front of his torso, arms and back of the right leg so shadows were introduced using the curves method mentioned a couple posts ago and similarly, the hair and eyes were highlighted just a little.

Finally, a few strand of hair were added around the edges in addition to filling in the beard.   A nice relaxing way to spend a morning full of questions 😉

 

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Touching The Face

Though not nearly as technically challenging as the previous image, this one was very enjoyable to create in both the planning and the finish.

Part of the motivation for this image was a sentence I heard in a youtube video. I had to find out where it came from and found this poem:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

–John Gillespie Magee, Jr

The other factors behind this image are more personal.

The background image is obviously not something from SL but it was what I wanted to be the center of attention. I searched for the right cliff to be standing on and looking up for quite a while. Once I located it, I created the poses for Noel and I and then returned to get the foreground image dialed in using windlight.  It had snowed!

I hadn’t planned on snow and the clothes we were wearing was inappropriate so this meant it was time to get some winter clothes.  Once I had clothes for both of us I realized that the barren cliff I had chosen was now too barren when covered in snow so the search for a new place was in order.

Thanks to a very good friend who has her own amazing Flickr page and whom I knew would have snow scenes that weren’t barren, I found what I thought was the perfect spot.  I just had to de-render a hundred or so prims that were a house and it’s contents behind the tree 😀

A huge white screen was rezzed to aid in the creation of a mask that would help isolate all of the bare tree branches and I had my base image. Noel and I were added after photographing in the studio under similar lighting and the sky was added. Finally, a lot of time was spent adding ambient light from the lamps on the left edge of the image. I don’t know that it is noticeable but like to think this is one of those things that would be noticed more if I hadn’t taken that extra time.

‘Ghosting’ Noel was the intention from the beginning.  She is ‘here’ but she’s not.  It’s a reflection of a personal note that is part of the theme of this image. Watching several youtube videos of different methods of attaining the effect I had wanted failed me. I had hoped for a more ‘wispy’ effect, similar to a cloud though the low light probably made that unlikely from the beginning.

In the end, I was quite happy with this – though I let Christi post the image without Noel ghosted on her page because I felt others might not appreciate the intention behind including a mostly transparent person in the image.

Once complete, I used the image for a new video featuring the music of Rameses B named “Night Sky”

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Wrong Turn

Aedan in the rain on a colorful street
If you must be stuck in the rain, make it a beautiful rain

This was probably the most enjoyable image I’ve created so far. I wanted to add some color to my work. Watching Natsumi painting with light in her work left me in awe so I found some additional tutorials on youtube and decided to give it a shot myself.  This called for not only bright, colorful lights but a wet surfaces to reflect it and a mist to spread it out.  This wasn’t something I was likely to find in SL and besides, had I found it, the fun would have been missed.

 

Several hours of wandering around SL revealed the street I thought would meet my list of demands. It is a gated city and from what I read at the gate, non-english speaking. There were people scattered about but none in the street so I stood outside the gate and cammed my way around looking for other possibilities before moving back to the street that first got my attention.

At the time of the photo, the only windlight adjustments made that I recall was to make it night time though I also grabbed an image using CalWL to use as a reference and filler if needed.  It wasn’t.

Kowloons Gate as it appeard
Kowloons Gate as it appeard

Back in the lab with the images, I followed closely the instructions in one of the tutorials I found (How to Give Your Photos the Cyberpunk Look in Photoshop) and adjusted the colors using the Camera Raw filter in Photoshop. Following suggestions from the same tutorial, I illuminated one of the signs (right, top corner) to balance the scene. All lights then received a bit of fuzziness to bring them to life in the planned rain. Additionally, ambient light from different colored signs was added to the atmosphere.

For the street reflection, a mirror image was made and transposed in an attempt to make the angle of reflection more realistic though I was never quite satisfied with how that ended up.

Next, Aedan was added with reflections added to the umbrella along with shading to mimic the ambient light.  The rain coat also received a few wet spots.

Finally rain and mist were added before making final levels adjustments to brighten the scene a bit.  When all was said and done, I used this image in combination with a beautiful tune entitled “Follow the Light” by Wayr.

This was definitely fun and I hope to do more like this in the future.

 

(update 1 Janu 2020 – Happy New Year!) The video tutorial I linked to above is a great tutorial and expect I will refer to it again but today I came across one that created many of the same effects in a manner that seemed much easier to me. ( How to Create Lighting Effects in Photoshop ) It may just be that I’m feeling more comfortable in PS with each passing day. However, one thing I’ve certainly learned is that there is almost always another way to do what you’re trying to do and what might be ideal in one situation may not suit the next time.

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