Berry offered another Monday Meme on … umm… Monday (September 2nd). I didn’t take a look then, as I thought she’d be off enjoying Labor Day (even if it is spelt “l-a-b-o-U-r” ;-)). But, she did. And while it is rare for me to respond (this is only the third), I thought I’d give it a go – if only to win the most boring response in the world award :).
She asks six questions on the theme of windlight settings and photography. So here’s my replies.
Do you use windlight while taking pictures? If not, why not? Yes, and usually most of the ALM bells and whistles – occlusion, shadows, etc. Admittedly, this pretty much killed my old GPU stone dead at times, but I like to at least think there’s an element of realism in my shots as a result.
When taking a closeup snapshot for a profile picture, which windlight preset do you use most often? The only profile pictures I ever took were pre-WL (seriously). Since around 2008, I’ve only ever had someone who knows what they’re doing take my profile pictures and I certainly wouldn’t try to take a shot for someone else’s profile; not if I want to keep them as a contact / friend …
Which windlight presets do you use for full body portraits? See above.
If you do landscape photography, which windlights do you use for that most often? Hmmm. I like the late afternoon, so windlights built around that get used a lot; I also like ambient lighting so anything which gives that kind of feel gets used and tweaked. Jackson Redstar, Chic Aeon, William Weaver all see a fair amount of use. There are a couple of Bryn Oh’s which I particularly like and enjoy tweaking quite extensively to get some results (I like her Mayfly as I can twiddle around with the sun position, sky colours, etc., and get some nice “night-time” effects); I’ve also recently started juggling with some of Torley’s windlights.
Do you have any tricks or tips that you could share for using Windlight effectively? I’m not sure I’m in any position to offer practical advice. My rule of thumb is actually “suck it and see”; I tend to cycle through the windlights according to what I think might work, depending on where I am. This usually involves taking up to 6 or 8 shots from the same angle and seeing what looks “right” (I find what’s on the screen doesn’t always faithfully transfer to a still image – but that could simply be my eyes). I have a notepad I keep where I will jot down what works and what tweaks I make at times, but most of it really is finger-in-the-air.
Taking multiple shots from the same angle and different WLs probably sounds like a, “well, duh!”, statement (I mean, film is free in SL, so who wouldn’t? :)). However, I find it useful as I tend not to blog immediately about a place all the time, so the snaps can lie dormant for several days (or weeks), so having multiple shot allows me a greater spread of ideas when I do finally start writing-up a review; particularly if I suddenly get the idea for a set of “vignette”-style image captions. It also means I have a fair library of images should I need something to go with a future piece. At the very least, I hope that by having a range of “looks” in snaps I’ve taken, I can present a region under different lighting, “weather” and time of day and so hopefully add depth or interest to a write-up that way.
I think a lot also comes down to not just windlight, but use of other tools – the camera controls, etc. In this, I find Will Weaver’s phototools invaluable (as I avoid faffing with debug settings: he’s gathered them all up and presented them in a series of excellent tabs on a floater), as are the additional floaters in Exodus. Also, I’ve started getting into post-processing images (in a basic way), so I look for windlights which lend themselves to this. I also make use of Firestorm / Vincent Nacon’s clouds – if you don’t have these installed in your viewer for landscape / outdoors work, you should. They add a lot of depth to the sky without always having to dial-up the cloud coverage excessively.
Have you created any windlights that you would be willing to share with us? No! They’re mine, I tell you, mine! Mine!
No, seriously, I tweak and play, and because what I do is all a variation on someone else’s work, rather than anything original from me, I don’t often to save anything, and those that I have, I wouldn’t dream of sharing for the reason above – they are purely derivative. When I have the skills to create something worthwhile, then I’ll share :).