How’d You Do That? (Anatomy of a Photo)

You’ll never hear me asking, “How’d they do that?” because I don’t want to know. I want to get lost in the movie, the book or the artwork. I’m a firm believer in the suspension of disbelief, so you’ll rarely catch me looking for the man behind the curtain. My kids made me watch the making of the Lord of the Rings movies, and I was forever crushed by the revelation that Frodo and Gandalf weren’t sitting side by side in that wagon- it was an optical illusion. I can never watch the movies again without being distracted by the special effects that were hidden to me before.

But I am a teacher at heart, so when people ask me, “How’d you do that?” I’m more than happy to show them. If you’re like me and would rather not know, you can go here instead and look at some pretty pictures.

More often than not, people ask me where I took my pics, so that they can go there too. Sorry. Ya can’t do it. I build my own sets and then I tear ‘em down, all in a super secret exotic location. Their very impermanence is part of the fun.

The shot I posted today, “All is But a Dream Within a Dream,” started with Poe. Well, really, it started with Flutter posting her Arcade gacha prizes on Plurk:

Let me just take a moment and squeeeeee over these poses. I’m a reader and a book lover. These poses might as well be called WHISKEY NEEDS ALL THE POSES. And, as if the poses and props weren’t enough to make me feel tingly in special places, the books all feature the work of Edgar Allen Poe, one of my all time favorite writers. Be still my heart.

I found a few of my Poe books the other day, coincidentally, when I went to storage for my socks. Because of Flutter, I picked one of them up and started reading. Because of Poe, I took this photo:

So, by virtue of the transitive property, Flutter caused this photo.

Anyhow reading Poe makes me think of longing, of being pulled into the depths, of melancholy and mania. So basically just normal stuff round these parts. I wanted a Poe inspired shot, and it started like this:

That’s a test shot. I always shoot a few as I go, and this time it didn’t take long to see that this shot wasn’t really going where I wanted. See the black avatar there? That’s the Mystic Tree Man avatar from Curious Kitties. (Only 10L on the MP.) It’s mesh, so you can actually rez it whole and use it by itself, as long as you don’t mind the crucifix shape as it stands. I needed it to hop on this Del May pose, so I used an alt to wear it for this shot. (And at only 10L, that was an easy call.)

But the shape of the Tree man is very thin, so to give him a better outline, I rezzed a copy of the avatar behind my alt and moved it around until the T shape was hidden, but the body still added to the avatar. It gave him a much better overall bulk.

As for my avatar, that’s the Mist avatar again. I love the skin, but needed to lose the skirt.  In fact, I needed to lose my whole set-up. So I moved us to my old stand-by, a water sim.

Playing around with the rezzed mesh avatar until I was happy with the shape of the Tree man, I finally found a really nice organic flow between the two avatars. Then I found the windlight I knew I wanted to use. It’s one of Anan Adored’s windlight settings, and I love the way the horizon disappears. I use it often.

And I really like this shot. I could have stopped here and been happy enough.

But I have this habit of playing around with multiples. Anything that can be copied, should be copied. Apparently. So I copied the mesh avatar a few times. Which gave me this:

I used the mirror water setting, and even though you might think of Poe as dark and foggy, I think this works too.

Alittle tweaking and nudging around in Photoshop, and Voila! I have a photo.

Riveting stuff, I know. I often have people ask if they can come watch me work on a photo, and I cannot for the life of me imagine what could be fun about that. They’d mostly just see my avatar stuck in a pose with some wacky props, while I cammed around and changed windlights over and over and over and over. Getting the flu would be more fun.

Turns out the guy behind the curtain is really boring. Let’s just go back to pretending that Gandalf and Frodo were sitting next to each other and Bilbo’s ring makes him disappear.

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One Comment on “How’d You Do That? (Anatomy of a Photo)

  1. This post needs a ‘spoiler alert’ lol LOTR is ruined for ever now…sobs* I am teasing, but I am exactly the same way…to me what is happening on the screen is what I believe, it is like never knowing the actors, because I only think about them as characters. As for the multiply ctrl J is my bestie too. Great picture, great post and wonderful story on the inspiration.

    Thank you

    xoxSasyxox

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