Friday, November 23, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

I just finished reading Honour McMillan's fabulous blog post "On Mainland & Fences & Rusty Toilets in Second Life" about her visit to Tatty Soup (SLurl) and a rumination about land in Second Life. After seeing her pictures I thought the location would be perfect for a writing topic that came to me as I was drifting into a turkey coma yesterday. Basically, how important is hyperrealism to the suspension of .... no, wait. Let's save that for another day.

As I was composing the first picture that I needed to illustrate the topic I thought about the Region Default Windlight settings. Normally when I explore I keep the Region Default set so I can enjoy the area as the buildscaper intended. Tatty Soup is set to what appears to be a modification of "Alchemy Immortalis - Fog Lifting" Fixed sky option (I peeked in the Environment tab of the Region/Estate tools .. it comes installed on some Third Party Viewers or can be found with a bit of Googling). The effect of this pre-set is perfect here. Actually, it is perfect most places, but I like fog – just this morning in Real Life I was up early, glued to the window to watch the densest fog we've had in some time. But that's all aside at this point. Here's what the region looks like (maximum draw distance plus everything but Depth-of-Field active in the graphics settings):

At this point, I was ready to break down the tripod, pack up the ol' Tamrac camera bag, and head back to the Lydia Rose Memorial Park (SLurl) to grab the next shots I needed for my original idea. Then another idea hit me ... Moar Shadows!! The picture was a bit flat. Well, snow, fog, overcast, lack of greenery, etc. So I thought "Sunrise!" and started a whole series of pictures, totally shelving my original idea. So let's look at the same shot above but changing its character via some different pre-sets.

Midnight: In the Garden of Frost and Snow. Pretty much as you might imagine it would be, but no fog. No weather at all, actually, so it is rather dull if you ask me.

Sunrise: Here Comes The Sun. As you can see, East is behind me and slightly to the right of me. This is the standard sunrise, though the East Angle and the time of day can be changed in the Environment Editor. I like how the cabin catches some of the first rays of the sun. Looks cozy.

 Midday: Checking out life in the park (thanks, Yusuf). Crisp, clear, and I have my shadows. A careful photographer with time on her hands would watch a complete cloud cycle to pick the best sky/water reflections, but one cycle can take nearly an hour before it repeats.

Sunset: Hopin' to promote a dream somewhere along the way (thank you, Mike). I did watch the clouds for a bit here to catch the faint rainbow that sometimes appears (never noticed that we had those, did you?). Still a little warm, but the over all feeling is still chilly. And far different from the region default, you'd have to agree, but all within the bounds of "normal" weather.

And that's where Day Cycles come into play. Look for them in the Environment Editor. Unlike the usual Windlight pre-sets, Cycles work with the flow of time as Second Life skies regularly do, but have some color and weather effects.

This is the Default cycle, the one that is synchronized with the Mainland. Based on the coloration and the extent to which the sun's rays reach, it looks like the time is a few minutes past the 6:22AM time where default "Sunrise" is fixed. So in effect I was in Tatty Soup at about quarter till 7:00AM, I'd guess (I could have looked at the clock at the time, but I forgot and I'm writing this about an hour later, so close enough). The subsequent pictures were taken with different cycles no more than 10 minutes after this picture, so all are morning images.

The Dynamic cycle differs little from the Default cycle, but if you look closely (and your monitor allows) you can see there is a slight increase in color saturation. As clouds and sky can color the land and water, there may be some change due to wind shifts, as well. After this, things can become strange.

The Colder Tones cycle is dark this time of day and the sun is either in the West or that is a really bright moon. Not one of my more favored settings, I seldom use this cycle for pictures.

The Pirate's Dream cycle is very, very nice for this shot. It looks quite similar to Midday, but the contrast is amped up and the sky has a slightly violet hue and that, of course, colors the water and the shadows. There is also a bit more haze in the atmosphere and that picks up the same hue.

I'm wondering if we can just assume that Torley Linden is responsible for the Psycho Strobe! cycle? I can hear the meeting now ... "What's wrong with pink and green? The Residents love it. They love ME! They'd want a pink and green cycle. What? Oh, well. Orange clouds and deep purple-blue skies. Go Broncos *sheesh*"

The Tropicalia Cycle sometimes works in tropical locations, but not often, and it certainly doesn't work here. The contrast is just too harsh. Notice the azure/topaz water, though. Cycles change how water looks as much as fixed presets do, but and the way the sun's coloring and general coloring is set gives the default water this more tropical look. You can always use different water pre-sets to change any cycle effect.

The Weird-O Cycle is just that ... weird. It always strikes me as some post-apocolyptic, radiation-enhanced thing. That's about all I can say about this one.

I've made some fixed Windlight pre-sets for places I frequent and for various photographs but sometimes I'll slip out the Dynamic Cycle just to be different. So even if you have a hyperrealistic setting like Tatty Soup, you can easily suspend ... oh, that topic again. Maybe in another post. Now go explore!


Honour McMillan said...

Damn you're good :)

Uccello Poultry said...

Awww, thanks, Honour. Not as good as you.