Tip of the Week: Guide to high-quality photography

Guide to high-quality photography (condensed)First, my apologies: I don’t have a video tutorial for you this week, because the one I did is hopefully going to be shared EARLY NEXT WEEK for very good reasons… I promise you’ll find out. Like comedy, timing. 🙂

BUT, I did want to share that the “first edition” of my:

» Guide to high-quality photography

is done for your enjoyment! it’s a very visual compilation covering a lot of things, answering many questions I get asked in respect to my Second Life photos. If you’ve ever wondered about how to most effectively capture your inworld memories, check it out!

And, the guide doesn’t just apply to budding photographers either: a number of the tips are applicable to improving the overall visual quality of your inworld experience, and ease-of-use getting around. (Snapshots tend to be meta-tastic that way.)

Happy snapping,

Fun with my autograph after vectorizing it (small)

Torley Linden is a Product Manager & more who regularly contributes to the Official Linden Blog. See more Tips of the Week… are you ready for new Search?

About Torley

Who am I? See http://torley.com/
This entry was posted in Community, Creativity & Ideas, Resident Experience, Tips & Tricks. Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Tip of the Week: Guide to high-quality photography

  1. Jayden B says:

    Please push a firstlook of Windlight out soon Torley… and keep up the great work.

  2. Daisy Beauchamp says:

    Awesome. You rock Torley. Photography in SL is so much fun. I’m a RL Professional Photographer and love the challenge of SL. Nice job.

  3. You mean you wont show us that movie of Havok 4 ?

  4. Lincoln Lightfoot says:

    Why don’t you take the resources you are using to provide tips and try to figure out why there are so many crashes. 8 Today alone – and with the new release.

  5. Azadine Umarov says:

    Cmon, Lincoln! Creating a tips video, while it takes some editing, has no relationship or relevance to whether or not LL can manage its release problems effectively. This has been a messy release, no question. But that’s not Torley’s particular area of responsibility. Hopefully, at some point those managing the decisions on how best to issue a new viewer releases will get their act together too. Still, no matter how good they get I’m sure they’ll never be perfect, any more than any other software project produces entirely working code every time they make what they hope will be an improvement.

  6. Azadine Umarov says:

    And someday I will manage to catch every single typo. Probably after I’m dead.

  7. ok… let me guess… the next tutorial will explain how to make the most beautiful sky?
    tell me, tell me, tell me!

  8. Pingback: The Grid Live » Second Life News for November 9, 2007

  9. alf lednev says:

    Thankyou Torely, I enjoyed that,. The comedy/timing coment was appropiate, try not to release your articles the same time as a major viewer release. You will only cop the overflow of frustrated users.

    Don’t push windlight yet, everyone (except the ones who get off on colouring their pie charts) want a stable working “grid” before anything else is added to stuff things up more.

    Back to topic, thankyou, I enjoyed it , the video isnt always necessary and watch your timing to .Thats the essence of good comedy and most things in life

  10. Dekka Raymaker says:

    Always useful

  11. Susannah Clary says:

    Thanks again Torley for another great and informative post! I love the challenge in getting “that perfect shot” in SL and you have given lots of helpful tips here to help achieve that goal.

    Rather cruel to keep dangling that Windlight carrot in front of us -drool on my keyboard is not a good thing! But seriously, don’t rush it – get it right first – all bugs worked out before launch please!

  12. The Todd says:

    Nice writeup — Thanks Torley

  13. bobbyb30 zohari says:

    Yet another example of how the lindens push things out to early. (They are in their own world…)
    -Bobbyb30 Zohari

  14. alexwarrior says:

    G’day Torley

    Thank you for the tips, but the pics I want to take – action shots of people and particles seem to crash my client. By that I mean – it dumps me completely and closes SL.

    I want to take the amazing pics – any tips on how I can stop the client crashing for these types of shots though? (Obviously turning my particles down then affects the shot and it’s not as spectacular).


  15. Jay Prospero says:

    Nice tut, worth pointing out that taking pics in depth mode crashes the game on my dual 2ghz Mac G5. This problem has been around for a while now.

  16. Cat Gisel says:

    Hey Torley, is there a reason so many of these neat features are not settable (and saveable) like a default? even having a few more on hotkeys would be great.

    Also I find that disabling camera constrants often doesn’t really do anything, sigh…

  17. Ari says:

    Totally wicked.

    I’m a photography in RL and have always been frustrated with no zoom or aperture controls. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed those darned zoom controls before. 🙂

    Thanks for another awesome tutorial, Torley.

  18. Blinders Off says:

    I always appreciate Torley’s Tutorals.

    One thing I don’t appreciate is SL’s automatic “lossy” transfer of textures. Have always wondered if there was a way to get around that, but if there is, it’s not obvious to the customer. I get so tired of taking top quality photos and having them come out pixellated and fuzzy. Even the “hi res snapshot” doesn’t work right, because SL apparently auto-converts texture uploads without saying a word to the customer. Grrrr. Double grrrr.

  19. Aisling Homewood says:


    I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to put all these tutorials together. I can’t always get to all of them, 🙂 but I look forward to reading this one when I can squeeze a few free minutes out of my day. Please keep doing *your* job…you are doing it very well. Kudos to you for trying to help those of us who are “graphically challenged” to make our experience in SL more enjoyable.

  20. JetZep Zabelin says:

    Hi Torley

    Thank you again for the hints and clues! =) Even without a video, this kind of information is especially instrumental for us visual artists.

    Now I finally got some antialiasing in SL. Although my NVidia interface didnt match your instruction, I was able to figure out my “version” of the Nvidia panel: Start > Settings > Control Panel > Display > Settings > Advanced >GeForce tab: (then wait for sidebar to expand) > Performance and Quality settings: Antialias is there.

    A question that maybe you could touch upon in your guide is in regards to the Compress Snapshot to disk option. What is it exactly? The files are being saved in a .jn2 format. Photoshop won’t open it. Would an “Open as” work? And what format is it?

    See you at your office, I hope I can make it today! =)


    P.S. #19 (Blinders Off): When you edit (i.e. photoshop) the image, RESIZE it to standard SL sizes: 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 1024 BEFORE uploading and the end result will be much better. I use JPG with the highest compression levels. Uploaded images look great.

  21. JetZep Zabelin says:

    Oops =P I meant highest duality of compression: 12 !

  22. Verdana Klaar says:

    When am able to be in-world – without drashing every 2 hours – and setting parameters higher than a 96m draw distance, 1.5 “cloud”, etc… may be i can have high quality landscape as well ? no ?

    Who cares high-quality snaps, when on a standard pc you cannot run graphics properly (3Hgz – 1GB memory – 256MB vidram – 2.5 DSL – 300MB cache) ?

    Lindens are funny.

  23. Ron Crimson says:

    “Yet another example of how the lindens push things out to early. (They are in their own world…)
    -Bobbyb30 Zohari”

    ROTFL! *Of course* they are in their own world! They *built* it! 😀

    Torley: marriage proposal is on its way. *sly grin*

  24. Ron Crimson says:

    How did I manage to say @30 when I meant to refer to @14 o_O

  25. Diricial Dagger says:

    Torley, how does the Camera Control Zoom differ from the Zoom available through the View Menu?

  26. Amanda Ascot says:

    Ooooh, Torley! A totally useful tutorial. OK, I knew some of this, but I never really applied any of this to in-world photography — mostly just using it to degrade my viewer so I can actually *do* something in-world in these laggy times. I don’t take a lot of snapshots, and, sadly, many of them I took from early in my life, here, are gone forever due to an inventory loss awhile back — many fond memories of a newbie still wide-eyed with wonder at the marvels she was seeing in Second Life. You can be certain, though, that I’m going to be taking lots more in the future — especially now that I have detailed instructions on how to make them look their best.

    Lincoln @4: *rolls eyes, bites tongue, shakes head sadly, points at Azadine’s retort … and goes on …*

  27. Penny Patton says:

    I really wish the depth controls (ctrl+8,9, and 0) were able to be scripted into attachments. Like for HUDs for games, avatars, and specific areas. Being able to script other visual effects, such as wireframe mode and others hidden in the client, would make for some really neat HUD capabilities as well.

  28. Storyof Oh says:

    Nice tutorial but as mentioned typical mist and mirrors timing when our main priorities are staying in game…taking photos are lowww priority..unlesss as evidence we did get in!

    Would be fantastic to log into the site after numerous rolling restarts to read a tutorial on whats changed, how it’s been messed up, workarounds to survive, how to reset the home location moved into the neighbouring sim and anger management……

    I also sell meditation pilllows for the uber stressed lol……

  29. Digital Digital says:


  30. Verdana Klaar says:

    Does anyone have an idea on how to pick a high quality photograph, now at 11:00 SLT – just to illustrate in a smart and sparkling manner that : “the database is off for maintenance” (once more) ?

    How long will they manage to fail… ? This remains a perfect mystery.

  31. Other PO'd Resident says:

    Stop playing games Lindens and Fix this game. We dont care about pictures. How bout working on all the issues at hand?

  32. Alyx Sands says:

    *chants* Windlight, Windlight, Windlight! 😉
    Seriously, Torley’s pics always make me SO envious….

  33. Ric Mollor says:

    Great tips and fantastic photos but I’m curious about the source of the word “MOAR” that is used in the wiki link. Thinking it was a from a non english language tried Googling it and got.
    (Google hits #1 and #2 below)
    1. moar

    1. A combination of “more” and “roar”.

    2. An order bellowed to a forum to remedy the bellower’s insufficient pr0n collection. Usually accompanied by foaming at the mouth.


    Moar, like sauce, is a word invented by /b/tards. Also like sauce, it is used whenever someone puts up some porn of unspeakable nature. It has become such a well known meme that it is often used in place of more in irc.

    Wow! Is that really what you intended to say?
    (Discovery of what ‘/b/’ is will be left to the readers)

  34. Taff Nouvelle says:

    since this is not shown on the blog by a Linden, I will show it.


    If yopu take more than one set for sale item into your inventory at the same time, all items are set for sale at the price of the last picked up when they are rte rezzed. BE CAREFUL this could mean the skin you have just spent weeks making gets sold for $0.

    Torley has escalated this to critical, why then is there no mention of it on the blogg.

  35. Alyx Sands says:

    #32: No, SL is NOT a game, yes, there are enough people who DO want pictures (GO CHECK OUT FLICKR if you don’t believe me), and no, you wouldn’t want people like Torley, who is assigned to do different stuff, try to fix server bugs or something. Just because he is posting useful stuff doesn’t mean everyone else at LL stops working or something. Sheesh.

    (SL even runs on my 3 year old laptop with only 512 MB RAM-apparently it isn’t necessarily only high end computers that run SL smoothly)

  36. Dorie Bernstein says:

    Yay for Torley!

    And to avoid losing snapshots to inventory issues (plus saving money!), save to hard drive, people!

    By the way…all this inventory loss and crash trouble. I’m not experiencing it. Am I doing something wrong?

  37. Ron Crimson says:

    Nope, Dorie, I’m suffering from the same problem: i.e. none!

    I’ve always said it and I’ll say it until people start getting the idea 😉 when you log in, open the Inventory, click on the Recent Items tab and LET IT FETCH ITEMS UNTIL IT’S DONE. This is (in my experience) a 100% safe way of ensuring you NEVER LOSE A SINGLE ITEM. Which I haven’t in over one year of playing SL. 🙂

  38. Brenda Maculate says:

    Torley, to say you are awesome would be a great understatement.

    This week’s TnT goes a little over my head, but that’s okay– it means that there is a challenge for me to learn how to do something else! (I especially like that pointer to Comic Life. I didn’t realize that something that cool was out there!)

    I always look forward to your posts. Keep up the good work!

  39. Melanie Milland says:

    Actually, I see no inventory loss, either.

    I do see a distinct usefulness in these extra controls… even though I don’t need to take pictures oftem. those are very avluable tips for building, too.

    Wtg Torley!

  40. Yoshikuni Takakura says:

    Enough with the Windlight previews! No more till we can get a test of it ourselves. 😮

    But thanks for the tips *that we cant use till WL.*

    Ehehe. 😀


  41. Maklin Deckard says:


    Would be nice if you actually did something about the 1+ second delay between hitting the snapshot keys AND it actually taking one…you know, the lag that got introduced with the ‘new’ snapshot interface…the lag between initiating the snapshot and gettitng it that didn’t exist with the original interface.

    Sure, its real easy to take POSED pictures with Windlight backgrounds, but try getting shots of MOVING objects…you have to litereally GUESS and hit the keys a second to two before the movement is in the position you want….and retake, and retake…until you work out the timing.

  42. Storm Nordwind says:

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Torley… say a few words about what REALLY makes the difference in achieving high quality photography! NOT all the wonderful techniques you showed us here – they’re just tricks and tips and people will keep on taking BAD snapshots with them. In fact you are getting people to unset one option that could help them significantly improve if they set it instead.

    * What REALLY makes the difference to great photography? Composition.
    * What’s the single worst feature of so many SL snapshots (including your own)? Subject in the centre of the screen.
    * What single feature would help people with composition more than any other? Checking “Freeze frame (fullscreen preview)”, not unchecking it as you suggest.
    * How does that help? Because of instead of just accepting the snapshot as it happens – the equivalent of RL “point, click and hope” – you take the snapshot and then get a chance to set up the EXACT angle, zoom, pan balance you want at your leisure without the critical moment being lost. You have a better chance of creating a superb composition, starting with the important “Rule of Thirds” you mention in passing at the end.

    Teaching people how to do that, so that they can experiment with putting the subject in different parts of the shot, would have the biggest effect on improving quality of SL photography.

  43. JetZep Zabelin says:

    Storm, Torley did touch on composition a while back but now I forget where. He even mentioned the rule of thirds.

  44. JetZep Zabelin says:

    Never mind

    /me eats his foot.

  45. Seeya Nexlife says:

    Thanx for continuing the proactive work on improving the user experience. Hope the video tutorial might come in some form of inworld issue (too) and that´s the reason for the delay.


    Most people seem to have other problems than taking pictures at the moment, which would also explain the low response to this post.

    I myself must say, I only spare some cynical remarks out of respect for you.

    But with the latest trick, that makes almost every 2nd or 3rd blue window in the upper right say, “money transfer denied blabla”, i just don´t want to be on anymore

    This paired up with a whole pile of other issues, like constant red packet loss blocks, chat / group IM & notices failing to be delivered and so on and so on…

    It took me now 6 months from total excitement to total frustration. Reason that keeps me here is that a lot of real money went into this already and its human nature to always try to survive somehow.

    But if i would be a user, who just uploads a few bucks from time to time, do some dancing, exploring, shopping or getting some fancy presents for friends, I would see absolutely no reason at all, why i should stay with this mess.

    Yes, lots of good friends here at sl, yes, bit addicted to sl too may be, but no, none of them reasons would keep me here…

    I decided for this to be my last comment on any blog, i will not submit support tickets any more or vote for any JIRA

    Just waiting for a good exit point and a good transition to a competitor that can offer TOS that don´t puke on any given customer protection law or act of any given civilized country.

    Introduce refunds for tier & classifieds. Downtime = refund, simple as that! You would see that most complainers stop complaining and start helping you sort out issues.

    Enough is enough
    Good weekend

  46. Pingback: » Tip of the Week: Guide to high-quality photography

  47. Doris Haller says:

    Seeya, I understand an partial agree.

    I just wait for U M to show up and say that it’s all running fine for him and he can see no problems and it must be client side.

    On topic:
    I agree with Storm that “Checking “Freeze frame (fullscreen preview)”” is better than leave it unchecked. It’s so great to try different perspectives that I usually take a whole series of the same still. Great thing, I wish I could do that in RL too.
    But it is very difficult to find the right moment in time to press the trigger. If you are taking pictures of yourself, it might be easier if you set animations to slow motion:
    Client>Character>Slow Motion Animations.
    I don’t know whether this works for all animations or just for the animations of yourself. And it does not get a marked (“X”) when you select it…why?

  48. Ron Crimson says:

    Hey #46… you’re sticking with SL but won’t submit tickets or vote for JIRA issues anymore? That’s like a citizen not doing his duty to the government o_O

    Well, what can I say… Seeya Nexvirtualworld! 😛

  49. Argent Stonecutter says:

    As an aside…

    What happened to the “friends on the mini map” feature. That was cool, having them show up gold, but it only lasted like one day. What’s up?

  50. Argent Stonecutter says:

    Freeze Frame is great for posed shots, but it’s lousy for action shots. What I really want is the equivalent of autoshoot, something that just takes a snapshot to disk every second or so, continually, while I do something.

    That, or fix the damn movie feature.

  51. Adios SL says:

    In agreement with @46 on this one. A few months back, I was fortunate enough to be able to sell off all 7 of my islands. I feel bad for the buyer now, but wow. What a total cluster this dis-service has become. Every patch another batch of new bugs, fixes for things that werent broken, that are now. Enough. Two rolling restarts in two days right before a 3 day weekend, and the service is unusable. Havent been able to login for more than 4-5 minutes at a time. Failed purchases, failed money transfers.

    Combine those issues with LL’s seeming unwillingness or inability to fix even the simplest of problems instead of infusing the service with new and unwanted features. Blog after blog after blog the people that love this service are pleading for fixes that go unheeded and unanswered. I loved this service. Enough to have invested a lot of personal funds into it. It saddens me greatly to see it get this bad so fast, without a shred of care for its customers on LL’s part . Declining ways to contact someone that can fix things, tickets that go unanswered for days, weeks, months… At one time you wanted me to fill out surveys on how yer doing. Well, here’s your answer:

    On the standard 1-10 scale:

    Customer service :0
    Reliability :1
    Stability :0

    Would I recommend your service to any of my friends ?

    Not if I want to keep them I wouldnt.

    I hope you make things better fast. It’s no longer creeping downhill, its at a full sprint. Let’s hope that the next competitor gets it right.

    Last one out, turn off the prim lights please…. If you can still rez one.

    Voting with my dollars,

    One unhappy former Avatar

  52. Hoopla Ballyhoo says:

    Log ins are problematic right now. Who actually monitors these things at SL? Or do they at all?

  53. Fellatione Aabye says:

    Apologies Torley for being crude in words ….

    Always admired your “How to s” … Great work

    But NOBODY ever asked for a GARBAGE AS WINDLIGHT; Would you post the name of the AV s who have demanded that????

    What use will it have???? NO USE AT ALL …. Just like the garbage VOICE who noboy ever asked for too (and who has messed up Second Life experience exponentionaly)

    Wasn t it better to first resolve the over 4,000 (over FOUR thousand) buggs and problems instead of You at LL to make things even worse for the users here ….. by your mental masturbationsessions? ???

    I think that most of the SL Citizens just asked for a good reliable Second Life ….. and Not one filled and poluated by GARBAGE like in Real Life …..

  54. Borky Grid says:

    Just to be precise…the network issues are not resolved…Freezing after almost every tp…relog…cannot log on cose something never received a pack or something….then it goes 5min, then not again…

    A whole week of incompentency festival at LL…Could you please stop smoking so heavy stuff and get things sorted now?

  55. Borky Grid says:

    Next tip of the week

    How to double or triple the number of characters allowed for a parcel description?

    May be some one can answer here

  56. Mantra Jie says:

    Photography tips aren’t going to be of any use when you lock up 30 seconds after logging in. SL now crashes my whole computer after the freeze. Another typical Sunday. Hopefully Google will go ahead and buy out SL, shut it down, and push forward with Google MyWorld. Any Arizona State University beta testers with an update on that? Now would be a good time for that public beta release!!!

  57. Hoopla Ballyhoo says:

    Hopefully someone with both authority and responsibility reads these things. The sl experience has been becoming increasingly erratic over the past six weeks and is becoming increasingly so. This is for people with the best equipment and connections. Time to be much better telling us exactly what is happening and what their plans are in plain english if they expect to hold on to us.

  58. Al Sonic says:

    “WINDLIGHT; Would you post the name of the AV s who have demanded that????”
    Just search for Windlight in the summary of JIRA issues, sort them by number of votes, select an issue, and (if you’re logged in you can then) click to “view” the list of voters; these people voted because fixing Windlight is important to them. The biggest list you’ll get is at http://jira.secondlife.com/secure/ViewVoters!default.jspa?id=11817 , but there are other lists that include other names. Also note that these lists don’t include anyone who wasn’t available in May/June to test out the previous Windlight release (as they were closed to further votes.

    @[35] Taff Nouvelle: o.0 Good of you to note that.
    Anyone who makes any serious use of SL’s built-in coalescence, READ SVC-930!

  59. Storyof Oh says:

    Yet again comments are closed….. wouldn’t it be great…just once…..once …..to return to the computer and find that is hasn’t crashed yet again and that there aren’t any messages re grid/network problems….. or that comments are enable so we don’t have to hi jack and be off topic. How long are DAILY problems going on for? if MSN had daily hiccups ………….

  60. Pingback: Tip of the Week #10: How to use the new Search « Official Linden Blog

  61. Regardless of how much one thinks a tip may be of value, any and all tips should be reviewed and remembered for that one occasion that you find yourself suddenly able to benefit from it. I plan on starting my own newsletter about photography tips by January of 2008 and you can view a sample of it at http://www.PhotoTipOfTheWeek.com/Downloads/FreeNewsletter.pdf . Please feel free to let me know what you think about it. Thanks.

    Joseph Tremain

  62. Pingback: resouces stuff

Comments are closed.