Let’s Talk Photography in SL

Photography—or taking picture—in SL is just like taking pictures in Real Life (RL).

Except when it isn’t.

Let’s look at the very basics of RL photography:

  • Pick your subject
  • Compose your shot
  • Adjust for lighting conditions
  • Focus
  • Take the picture

Now let’s look at the basics in SL

  • Pick your subject
  • Compose the shot
  • Take the picture.

It’s a bit like the old Kodak® Instamatic™ days. Except in SL, you’re given the option of either saving your picture to your inventory (at $10L a shot), emailing it, or saving it to your hard drive. The latter option is what I recommend. That way, you can edit it and tweak it exactly how you want, before uploading it to SL (again, at $10L a picture).

A Problem Unique to SL

Depending on how you’re going to use the picture, the length vs height ratio comes into play. For your profile  pictures, both your 2d Life and 1st Life photos will display at a ratio close to 1:1—that is, they will be (mostly) square when displayed.

It’s when you want to use a picture for your Picks that things tend to go sideways. No matter what ratio the picture is in, SL will display it in a ratio of 16:9—which means you really need to edit the picture to that ratio.

Your 1st Life picture will always display as 1:1; that is, a true square.

Your 2nd Life picture displays—and looks best—at the ratio of ~4:3. But this is not a firm, fixed rule: if you use a 1:1 (square) format, your profile will still look great.

Like all other things computer, pictures are framed in multiples of 2: 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc.

I’ve done extensive research on SL photography, and have discovered the optimum picture sizes:

  • Profile Pic: 168 x 126 (Use 512×384 or 256×192 for upload)
  • My Picks: 290 x 164 (Use 512×292 for upload)
  • 1st Life Pic 135×135 (Use 256×256 or 128×128 for upload.)
  • 2nd Life tab – ~4:3 (178×133 pixels)

Now for the Disclaimer

The above sizes are true for the Second Life viewer, versions 1 and 2. The latest version is 5. And while I’m sure nothing has changed, the ultimate proof of the pudding is in the tasting. In other words, try it out and see how it works.

(Ever wonder why we say “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”? It’s because we’re using “proof” in its meaning of test. Just as missile proving grounds really mean missile testing grounds.)

Further Resources

And that, my friends, is all the relevant information I could find on the official SL website.

Two great in-world resources are NCI Kuula and Caledon Oxbridge University, both of which offer tutorials on SL photography. Caledon has several levels of tutorials, depending on your interests.

In addition, there are hundreds of on-line tutorials besides the SL site. I’m not going to list them, because you know how to use search engines, and I’m not going to do all the work for you; you’ll never learn that way.

Until next time,

Aisling's Signature" Love, Aisling