Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Science of Beauty

If I don't start off with re-affirming my love and commitment to my SL wife, Angela (Seale) Galway there is a substantial risk that my avatar will be found floating ashore at the New Port Yacht Club, bereft of life but possessing quite a few bullet holes. That said, my friend Liara (Kemicq Resident) is heart-achingly, take-your-breath-away beautiful. (ahem ... I love you, Ange!) I set out to discover why.
The My Second Life post that started me thinking.
Well, obviously, she crafted her avatar very, very well. The process required conscious thought on her part, but was it all intuition or was there math behind the magic? During a life-figure art class long ago we looked at the Golden Number idea (AKA, Phi or 1.168), a concept closely related to describing why things are beautiful and the mathematics behind using Phi to create beauty. Many plastic surgeons (and sculptors, if you stick with the idea of art) use an extension of the Golden Ratio idea called The Marquardt Mask to reshape faces to be perfect. Let's apply it to Liara.

Holy Da Vinci! It works!!
As you can see, her features very closely match the Mask, especially if you figure in a margin of error for doing the comparison in a quick and dirty fashion. So if you buy into this idea, maybe we should all tailor our avatars with this tool.

Not so fast. Any good photographer will shoot the heck out of a scene then stop and critically think about what drew them to raise the camera and press the shutter button in the first place. Assuming there is time, of course. When I reflect upon Liara's face There are a few things that draw me that aren't related to the ratio guide.

Her eyes, for one. They are intense. The shape indicates an alertness, a bit of a longing, and casual sophistication. Her fair skin. Freckles are a big draw for me, but like most humans, the psychologists tell us, I am drawn to fair, healthy looking skin. Deep down when we look at people we are looking for good genes and clear, fair skin is an indicator. Don't ask me where I read that ... a decade in therapy tends to blur things. Then there are her carefully and deliberately chosen flaws – the piercings. Much like dimples or Marilyn Monroe's celebrated mole, they become beauty marks that help shape her face's symmetry and draw the eye.

The photo has elements that enhance her beauty, too. The tilt of the head complimentary to the leading lines that accentuate her face, using her face as a negative space in all the business of the fabric (the bright sun detracts from that and my old studio lighting class teacher would have shot me for including it).

Last, but not least, of all the factors that make me think gorgeous when I see Liara is that I know her. Not well, mind you, as I get dizzy looking at her sometimes and what she says during those times rather blurs in my brain, but I know she's whip smart, confident, very artistic, and more things I could think of if I wasn't all blurry brained. Let's call it an inner beauty. Just as your voice changes when you smile and talk, your overall appearance changes based on what is inside you emotionally and such.

Cripes. All this writing and I've totally lost where I was going. Right.

Liara is a truly beautiful woman, she's crafted a stunning avatar, and she did it with magic. Something about math and geometry is in there somewhere but I keep looking at her picture and ...

Did I mention that I really love my wife?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Topless Tuesday Massage

My good friend Xandah stopped by this morning and suggested we start the day with massages. She's a very good friend *big smile*.

Click the picture to embiggen or see it in the Topless Tueseday in SL Flickr group.
Here's the SFSL (Safe for Second Life) picture I posted on MySL.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Writing Skills

Yes, this blog post starts on the paper above.
Of course, you can use the built-in keyboard, as shown, or a Bluetooth device for improved accuracy. As you can see, symbols can be added, or as you can't see, the app capitalized Stone Age for me. Some auto-correct works and text can be tap-selected for editing so Hanx Writer might be a bit more neolithic than paleolithic.

Documents are saved to .PDF format to preserve the special font used (optional, in-app purchased typewriter skins have different fonts) so one can't easily edit a document on another device or in another app. Andy Ihnatko describes how he wrote his review of Hanx Writer with the app itself and exported it for publication at the Chicago Sun-Times (here) but the whole business sounds laborious.

Still, I like the tappity tap of the keyboard, the ding-carraige return, and the need for focus on what I'm writing. In the latter respect this app is very much like the no-nonsense approach of IA Writer (for Mac or iOS). There is no getting lost in formatting options, layout, or other distractive elements. The words take center stage, a good simulation of the thoughts-to-paper experience of using a typewriter but IA Writer is tappity-free. Mores the pity.

I'm not the only one who likes the soothing sound of the machine doing my bidding. It seems that The Times has a plan to pipe in the sounds of newsrooms past with the constant flow of typebars pounding paper-clad platens at the behest of harried news hounds pounding out a story. They hope the soundscape will encourage productivity in the workforce.

Good luck. White noise is often a good thing, but for me that often means letting my iPad run Koi Pond HD for the lovely, natural background noises (and to occasionally poke at fish). I look forward to the results of the newsroom test and have Circa set up to follow the story.

In the mean time, I'm practicing my typing ... tappity tap tap tap tap ...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Zyx's Week

My pixy friend Zyx Flux was pretty busy this week and she sent a bunch of pictures to me to prove it.

This is just one of many blurry, poorly composed photos that Zyx sent from her trip to Pygar's Lil Plot on Varney (SLurl). I guess she was too excited to see the new things in the garden. Pixies have trouble staying still near blooming things.
Someone in Bay City (SLurl) setup a playground on some land they were selling and Zyx bugged me no end for money to buy it until I explained to her that the playground equipment didn't come with it. She was relived when I told her she could go back all she wanted until the land sold.
Have Space Suit; Will Travel.



After her trip to Spaaaaaceeeeee she shopped for more space suits.
Back at home.
She spends a fair bit of time at home.
I never should have got that girl a camera phone. My data plan has overages every month thanks to her constantly sending pictures. She really needs to learn about Flickr.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Topless Tuesday FX


Unable to come up with anything truly creative, I shot a simple image in-world and tossed it to my iPad for editing in a new app I bought, Tangled FX. You might know the images that come from this app – wistfully whiskery like this lion at left. How the software works I don't know, but you'd think the uses would be pretty limited, but if you play with the controls and have some patience, you can get something different from what most folks buy the app to do. Like my picture above. Less whiskery but certainly different from the original (shown below).


Three-point lighting thanks to some projector prims in an all black studio and a simple pose from somewhere in my collection. Details, details, details. This is why I'll never be a serious fashion photographer, right?

Look for more Topless Tuesday pictures on Flickr here and check out a great use of the Tangled FX app by Andy Ihnatko here. The SVphotography Blog is another great source for cool pictures with this app.