Shadow Play - Imprudence

Getting shadows to work well in a photo is tricky. Most everyone agrees that it takes time and practice to achieve realism. I have been working on refining my shadow skills. You may have noticed some more 3D style photos sneaking into regular posts.  I know there are quite a few of you trying to get shadows into your blog photos or even vendor shots, so here are a few of the things I have learned. Please note that I am using the IMPRUDENCE viewer (Imprudence 1.4.0 Experimental 2010.10.09 (Oct  9 2010 00:54:24) to be exact). This is NOT a Viewer 2 model, but an enhancement of the 1.23 code.

This photo was taken at the Rue D'Antibies Christmas Market where there are lots of free goodies under the giant tree. I had bookmarked the post when the event opened and then never got around to going. So today was the day. The oh so brightly decorated market stalls were a perfect test background. Add the calm timbered walls, a bit of sky, some concrete and ME -- all test surfaces covered.

For those of you just joining my treatise on shadows, Kristen's S20 doesn't work for me. My three year old system -- albeit with a new graphics card -- can't handle the enhancements. It is lag city. I have no idea what the frame rate is, but it isn't good. I may have been able to get the supersaturated look of my presets (and Strawberry's default)  back to a more normal look eventually, but trying to navigate and change settings was simply too slow and painful.

So I went back to Imprudence 1.4 and its "unstable" shadows. These still slow my system down, but I can get photos. Here are some things I have learned that may help you along the way to shadow play:

 * Like many others before me have mentioned, setting your scene (clothing, pose, angle etc.) BEFORE turning on shadows is best. Unless your system is venturing toward state of the art status, shadows will make most any task more difficult.

To turn on shadows in IMPRUDENCE use Edit - Preferences - Advanced - Enable Shadows

*You will notice that your Windlight settings for  -- let's call it flat screen for lack of a term -- viewing change dramatically when you turn on shadows. You can work FROM your favorite Windlight settings, but they are not going to give you the same quality of light.  In Imprudence you can cycle through the sky settings by using the  "next" button on the SKIES panel.

* Shadow settings for one locale will not necessarily produce shadows in another -- or the shadows you want anyway. So be prepared to play with your Windlight settings. East Angle and Sun and Moon position are the sliders that change things the most. Refine your look with the atmosphere tab. I suggest you save your shadows settings starting with the word "shadow" or another term that will keep them together in the list. Then later, at a new location, you can quickly go through ones that have worked before. As your saved shadow settings increase, the chances of finding a workable one will be less time consuming.

* Imprudence gives you PRIM shadows and ALPHA shadows (buildings, tree leaves and such). It does not -- for me anyway -- give you AVATAR shadows. So you will most likely see some dots from your shoes, hair and other prims you may be wearing. This was disconcerting at first. Now I just  let the background shadows take over and play across my body. Honestly I am getting a little tired of those photos of long cast shadows from bodies *wink*.Newness is good in my book.

*Screenshots are the only method that works for me. Taking a snapshot gets me the scene sans shadows.

* Using a facelight (a light value adjusting one is best) can give you fill lighting where you need it. The photo above uses both shadow settings and a facelight. So far, I have not been able to reproduce the cool and crisp look that you see in some fashion photos.

*Adding a slight diffuse glow (top photo) to your in world shot will often blend the foreground (most likely you) and the background into a cohesive look. The photo directly above is the minimally processed screenshot.

* And a postscript: I was just reminded that I almost always crash when turning on shadows. So having your viewer set at "Last Location" is a good plan. I don't crash when returning. That's the good news.

Style Notes: 

Hair: !!Calico Ingmann Creations!! Tracy  blood
Skin: []::Tuli::[] The Dressing Room LE :: Gina 01
Clothing: >>>Poison<<< Tartan jacket; PARADISIS Cold Kiss : sweater cream

Poses by: (Miyoko Magic) Look in the sky series (new)

  1. gravatar

    # by Arialle Dufaux - December 21, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Great advice and ty :-) Ms S. Singh and her magificient photos of avis are certainly an inspiration but yours aren't too shabby either! I gave up on Imprudence because my avi would not throw a shadow, so you're not alone (I now use Kirstens). Your tip about taking a screenshot v. a snapshot is something that hadn't occurred to me so ty for that too. One gripe I have about some of the shadow shots I see on the blogs (the photographers shall remain nameless) is their *lack* of realism. By that I mean in RL, photographers strive to *avoid* shadows across the faces of subjects however, in SL many seem to aim for this as if to say "woo hoo, look I've got shadows!". For me, it's enough to achieve DOF with some shadows for effect...but that's just my opinion :-)