Monday, February 28, 2011

Making the Shot - Flaws

Sometimes when I take pictures I get too excited and forget to look at the little things. When I used film, I had a shooting ratio of about 8:1 for assignments ... I'd take eight pictures to get one that was acceptable. So on a 36-expsoure roll I'd get four to five keepers. Other students had far lower ratios, but I got much better grades. For studio work my ratio was more like 3:1, depending on the subject. At a seminar, a Kodak photographer told me that the typical ratio for his staff was 100:1 for each image used in advertising or promotion. Then again, they got free film. In Second Life, this is not an issue. Shoot, shoot, shoot. But I find myself taking fewer images than I would in Real Life, so on today's assignment I finished up with only three images when I closed the Viewer and headed to post-production. Fortunately, one was a keeper.

My "job" was to make a Real World picture for my alt's profile (Web). Zyx Resident used to have this picture for that spot. No, that isn't me (or her, but since she is me ...). I haven't had freckles like that in at least 5 years and I don't wear eye-liner. Though that is my attitude and its a really great picture. It fooled lots and lots of people. Think about it ... how many people do you know post an honest-to-goodness Real World picture of themselves in their profile? I did once, but it violated ToS (too revealing), so it was there for five minutes to shock my wife and friends.

In keeping with the "My First Life is really another avie" idea in her profile, I thought it would be funny to shoot her in a non-pixy skin as if she really was just an avie in the Real World. I shot two pictures with one pose and another one with a second pose then closed the viewer. That is when I noticed the flaws with my first choice. First, I had a bad composition. Try to never have things touching your subject's head. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it can keep folks from getting the impression that something is growing out of your subject's head. On a similar note, never crop in camera or out on an elbow, wrist, or other joint if you can help it. Viewers tend to get uncomfortable. The second issue was a virtual world limitation. Her hair falls through her body ... object occlusion. That could be fixed in post but I hate to do that. The last problem I noticed is also from being virtual ... mesh stretching on her upper thigh. It's just the way our avie work. If there had been less of a pattern on the pants there might have been less of an issue.

Here's the final result, cropped to fit the format and all the flaws removed. Well, the only alteration other than the cropping was to add 0.1 Gaussian Blur to help with aliasing. A simple, L$10 skin then some L$10 eyes and she's human! But she's still all pixy ... pixy dust trailed her as she flew off the set after the last shot. There is a board "growing" through her head, but the two points of continuity make it a moot point. The cropping is on both forearms, though the right arm (on your left) is closer to the wrist than I'd like, but cropping higher would throw off the image balance. The one small bit of horizontal board in the top left bothers me, but I could just be nit-picking. The biggest issue is again the stretching of the mesh at mid-torso. Some fancy retouching could fix that, but I don't think most folks will notice or care considering the puny size the image expands to when you click on it in her profile. The leading lines of the structure emphasizes Zyx's face, drawing they eye from the problem spot. Helping this is the placement of the face in the upper left quadrant of the image, the place most Westerners first look in a photograph provided there are no very bright areas that initially attract the eye.

Next project? Similar treatment for my Zyx Flux alt's profile (Web). Her Real World picture gets her way too much attention.

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