Monday, February 7, 2011

Making the Shot - Verdigris

A scenic, cleverly designed and constructed place in Second Life that I don't manage to visit as often as I should or would like is Vintage Village in Verdigris (SLurl). But I was there today and it struck me "Is this the place that the Windlight preset 'Verdigris' is designed to enhance?" So, naturally, I took a picture as such. Well, a few pictures. Thinking ahead I set my graphics to Ultra after the establishing shot, cranked up every setting that wasn't thusly maxed, and worked on the composition. When I thought further, I decided to play with the water settings, too.

The first pic uses just the High graphics settings that I normally run with the sun set to midday and no other "in-camera" adjustments and no post-process work. As you can see, the 128m draw distance does the scene no justice and the sky is very lackluster. Normally when I use midday as the primary setting I will go into the sky settings and tweak the clouds until they are attractive. In hindsight, I should have done that for the subsequent pictures, but I usually forget something on any shoot. Fortunately, it is never the lens cap.

The second pic is the same scene with all the graphics tweaks I mentioned and the Verdigris Windlight settings. Much, much better. This is the reason I often use this preset for every day wandering. This is nice enough that I could really walk away at this point and do something else because it really works. Looking carefully, though, with a nagging thought that something wasn't right, I decided to try something else.

The third pic is essentially the same, but I turned the water fog off. Often when swimming or diving in tropical waters I'll cut the water fog in half for a more natural effect, turning it back up to the default or higher when I go below 20m. I think turning it off entirely here gives a more natural reflection of the hue in the sky. For fun, I tried various colors with the fog set to about half. None of these did more than make me smile so I didn't save any of them, but it did give me another idea.

The fourth pic shows the water fog turned up a bit (probably near half) but the color changed to black. Much better, I think. Just what I was aiming for without having to resort to post-process work. As I like the some of the clouds in the third picture, something I could do in post is blend the two. Or I could just go back and shoot again. Maybe tweak the composition a bit to make it less static or to make it seem like the clock tower is not holding up the bridge. Sure, that is only a first impression, but those count.

I could take the first "raw" shot and simulate the Windlight setting and water changes offline, but that would be a waste of tools. Growing up into the photo hobby as a kid, I was taught early to always take one or more unadulterated, technically correct pictures before playing with filters or exposure settings. That way if you had ideas after you got to the darkroom, you had material to play with then.

If clicking these images doesn't enlarge them, you can see them on my Flickr stream.

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