Tutorial – Photography for beginners

Hi MAddicts,

Recently I’ve been asked for some help with photography in SL for those who are newer to it – so I thought, why not make a post with some tips and tricks for you guys, just in case any of it might be useful to some of you!

Now fair warning, I am FAR from the best photographer in SL lol. That goes without saying really. I’m just a person who messes around with settings until I get inspired and decide to make a photo out of it; so all you other photographers, if you have tips to share, please feel free to leave them in the comments for everyone to learn from!!

When I first started doing photography in SL, it was well, a little tragic. Like everyone else I was just using snapshots to inventory, and a little later on I started using screenshots instead (mostly because I had no idea you could save to your computer from the snapshot screen at that point), and well the results were… low quality 😛 Luckily for me though, I stumbled across Strawberry Singh’s photography tutorials, which taught me a great deal – so I highly recommend them. I also recommend attending any of the photography workshops at the NCI (New Citizens Incorporated) – they’re free and even though I had been doing photography for a while when I went to one, I learnt a lot of tips there that enabled me to take much higher quality images.

Now my process for taking photos is relatively simple. I spend a lot of time messing with settings, windlight and exploring sims waiting for that ‘ah-ha!’ moment, which is a pretty long winded way of going about it really lol. As far as what I “do” though, when it comes to getting that high resolution image, here’s my steps! (again, be warned, I’m no photography expert):

1) Find the location to match the outfit or mood I’m in (see some examples below of places I like to go):

  • Image Essentials – I’ve used this sim since I started doing photography really, and whilst recently it has had to downsize, I highly recommend it to budding photographers, especially those who don’t own a lot of poses and the like. The sim features photo studios that are free to use, and these will rez poses, props and all sorts for you to use in your photos! Just join the free group to use them, and she sells her amazing poses there as well, so you can grab some while you’re there.
  • Serein – This sim is owned by a good friend of mine Raven, and as a blogger/photographer herself, she has set up all different areas on the sim with poses, animations and different aesethetics. She adds new features often, so definitely a good one to explore.
  • Black Kite – I found this one recently whilst looking at 8f8 (who are now located on the sim). It’s a gorgeous display of water, particles, flight and fantasy, I highly recommend checking it out. You can join their group for free to enable rezzing.
  • The Village & BarDeco – lovely vintage feel sim.
  • Winter Moon – I love this sim for images with a more dark, foggy and almost mystical feel to them. It’s also a gorgeous sim just to be on.
  • Black Basalt Beach – For beach shots, this is one of my favourite sims.
  • Frisland – this sim changes with the season, but features many different poses integrated in the decor throughout the sim, with houses, farm areas, waterfalls a church and many other spots

2) Pick a spot and a pose from my collection to get my shot ready. Now for controlling my eyes (where I want to be looking) I use the free Anypose Expression HUD. This is probably my most used tool, however recently Fate Eye Poser 2.0 was released, and this tool lets you control other’s eyes too, which is often a pain for me when posing with two or more avis, so I might grab this one!. Second would be Animare, a tool I use for fixing some of those pose issues that can occur because of body sizes/mesh bodies, such as hands being stuck in bodies and all that fun stuff. I fix 99% of problems with a photo IN-WORLD, rather than edit outside of world, so check out those two huds for sure. I also use LumiPro, but that’s only been more recently. Lumipro is a huge tool but for those that do photography a lot, it’s worth the investment for lighting control, pose control and other features it comes with.

3) Go into Preferences (Ctrl+P in firestorm), select Graphics tab and set settings to Ultra (or as high as your computer will allow), ensure LOD is set to 4 and that shadows are on complex.

settings change

4) Select Hardware settings tab and set anisotropic filtering to on and Antialiasing to 16 (or as high as your computer will allow). These increase quality and smoothness of jagged edges.

settings change 2

5) Open phototools and select a windlight to use. When I find one I like, I also press ‘edit’ so that I can play with the angle and time of day sliders, this helps me get shadowing where I want it to be. A big part of my photography is that I use very little out of world editing, usually just cropping and sharpening sometimes.

photo tools

6) Once I have shadowing, windlight and everything setup the way I like it, I take the photo. Now I do this using the Snapshot function, which you can set to ‘custom’ and save to your harddrive directly, but the important part is to increase the size of the image you’re taking. I use the biggest size I can get away with before my computer will crash, then save as to my computer!


So in short MAddicts, that’s how I do it. It’s a very high level basic overview, but hopefully it helps a few of you out there who might be learning take pictures of your new bodies! If you have more advanced questions, or suggestions for additional tutorials, put them below and let me know! <3

<3 Daria

I’m wearing:

Mesh Head – Jessica by Catwa
Mesh Body – Isis by Belleza
Skin – Sara by Belleza (Available at Uber)Catwa applier
Hair – Ginny by Mina Hair
Tattoo – Human Nature by Identity (Available at Skin Fair) Includes appliers for Belleza, Maitreya, Omega, Slink & TMP
Outfit – Ahrianna Top & Bottom by Just Because (Available at Uber)Includes Belleza (all), Maitreya & Slink (both) sizes
Pose – ID Bench by Ys House
Sim – Black Kite

10 thoughts on “Tutorial – Photography for beginners

  1. Hi Daria!

    I thought I would leave a little something here that has always come in handy for me, and I wish more people knew about! This can be used to completely change your perspective and how you frame the shot.. as well as what you can capture in the background! I used this frequently and it has some awesome results!

    Extreme Zoom In/Out
    • To use extreme zoom in/out – which is fun for snapshots, close-ups, or even attempting to work on very small objects such as jewelry – use the key commands Ctrl and 0 to zoom in, and Ctrl and 8 to zoom out. You can hit each one multiple times to continue to zoom in or out, or hit the opposite to go a step back from the one you did previously. Obviously, this can do funny things to your camera, so when you’re done (or need to reset and start over) use Ctrl and 9 to go back to normal view.

  2. I’m looking forward to trying these tips out for my own photos. I hope your graphics settings suggestions will fix my issue. I have a mesh body, but still use the system head, and when I set my graphics to max ultra, my mesh body turns out a lot darker in tone than my system head, so I have to drop my settings to the notch below ultra. Going to try this out to see if that fixes that! Thanks for the guide 🙂

    • Hey Aimee! Yes this is a common problem – the issue here is usually shadowing. The mesh on your body is much smoother than the sl head, which is quite jagged and low poly. For that reason when you go to ultra you’ll see this difference becomes more pronounced. Windlights can help with this issue (because some cast more light) and also using lighting (a soft facelight or a lighting HUD to allow you to manually cast more light on the neck area). Before I got lumipro, I used this one – https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Fotoscope-FotoLight-V2-Boxed/383056 which allows you to add seperate lights to your body and adjust the colour/intensity as well 🙂

  3. Great tutorial! I’ll have to check out those tools you mentioned, especially the eye posers. Eye direction is probably my number one challenge.

    I also want to second Jacolyn’s suggestion of using the zoom features. In fact I think it’s a necessity for just about any shot. I do mainly portraits, so being able to recreate the look of a long lens is a must for me.

    Another feature that’s invaluable is Depth of Field. It can add so much dimension to a shot…I highly recommend experimenting with it!

  4. I was considering doing photography lessons and charging for the privilege, but now I will just give people the link to your Tutorial.
    Great work covering lots of the things for people to try keep in mind.

    My Tip add would be:
    In the advanced men, make sure you have High Res Snapshot and Quiet Snapshot ticked on.
    That way if your snapping candid pics, your subject does not know they have been snapped until you show them your awesome pic 🙂

  5. I took away a lot from your photo tutorial, the biggest improvement to my photos was made by the settings. I had no idea about ‘antialiasing’ and taking a shot bigger works a trick too. I now have the Fate Eye Poser. That saves time waiting for her eyes to get in right position. Brilliant.

    One thing I also picked up recently was to use DE-RENDER on an object or avi for a clearer shot. It doesnt do anything to them but takes them out of your frame before you shoot. And it temporary. Which was good the last time I used it cause I accidental de rendered the prop I was on!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: