Picturing the lighthouses of Second Life

HEA: A Tribute to Lighthouses

If there is one thing region designers / owners tend to love in Second Life, it is lighthouses. Over the years, I’ve visited and written about hundreds of region designs around the grid, and one of the most common elements to be found across them is the humble (or grand, or steampunkish or fallen or … and so on!) lighthouse. And they reside not just on public regions either; they can oft pop-up on private region homes (so much so that a couple of estates around Blake Sea actually requested tenants stop using lighthouses as island décor!).

And to be fair, they can be an eye-catching sight – I admit to photographing more than a few in my travels and frequently use one of SL’s most famous lighthouses: that of Blake Sea – Crows Nest (itself modelled after Fastnet, off the southern coats of Ireland) as a backdrop for photos of boats and aircraft.

Give their extensive use, lighthouses present an interesting topic for a photographic exhibition – as witnessed by the Queen Bee Gallery July exhibition at Hannington Endowment for the Arts (HEA). A Tribute to Second Life Lighthouses features no fewer than 38 images of lighthouses from around Second Life, captured by Ferugina Luna.

HEA: A Tribute to Lighthouses

Offered in a range of styles: individual pieces, themed groups, lightly processed, untouched and significantly processed, triptych style, and do, on these are images that cover all of the various types of lighthouse to be found within Second Life – inland, coastal, tall, short, with accompanying keeper’s house, standing alone, guarding sea routes or looking out from beaches or cliffs…

To be sure, thirty-eight is a lot of images to take in. On the one hand, they reveal that when all is said and done, there is a little number of individual variants to be found within SL (excluding those that are custom-built). It means there is a certain amount of repetition to be found within the images – the aforementioned fallen lighthouse, for example. On the other, by having so many images to hand it is possible to see the many individual ways in which region owners and designers put them to use to make a statement about their land; while the same design may appear in multiple images, the manner in which each is used can be quite individual.

HEA: A Tribute to Lighthouses

There’s something else in this as well – seeing the same design from multiple angles can do much to “place” it in terms of the possible inspiration behind it. Thus, A Tribute to Second Life Lighthouses offers visitors a twofold treat: images of the subject matter from around SL, and an opportunity to consider where on Earth some of the inspirations for the building designs come from. For me, I found myself looking at photos from around the UK; others might well be put in mind of famous lighthouses from their part of the world. My one regret with this exhibit is the in-world locations where the pictures were taken isn’t evident.

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K360 – a 360-degree image viewer

The K360 Image Viewer, courtesy of Yuzuru Jewell / Kanae Project

Yuzuru Jewell is a long-time Second Life user who has, over the years, come up with a number of tools that have been of assistance to SL users in various ways. I first became aware of his work – provided under the Kanae Project banner in 2012, and have documented a number of his applications in these pages.

For his latest product, Yuzuru offers a handy tool that may be appreciated by those who enjoy creating 360º photographs. K360 is a lightweight viewer that supports viewing (or previewing) 360º photographs primarily taken with the Second Life 360º Snapshot viewer, although it works equally well with any composed 360º image, including those produced by 360º cameras and – in the case of Second Life – via third-party HUD systems (see the links at the end of this article for more on these).

Of course, most photo platforms now provide 360º image viewing support, so why use a third-party tool like this? Well, there are a couple of potential reasons: many viewers are either mobile based, and thus hardly ideal for use with a desktop application like SL), or they rely on images being uploaded to a website first. K360 allows you to quickly and easily view 360º images directly from any Windows folder on your computer and offers some additional functionality as well.

A 360 image produced in 2016 using the Illiastra Camera HUD, viewed using K360

Of course, the Snapshot viewer includes photo preview capability already built-in (just drag the window out to get a equirectangular style image) – but this only allows you to preview the last 360º image captured. The advantage of a tool like K360 is that you can set the camera up and take a series of 360º images of the same location but under different environment settings, compare and contrast them to see which you particularly like, and then upload that version to your preferred photo sharing platform  (or simply browse them on from your local drive).

Using K360 is simplicity itself, as described below. However, when using it, please note:

  • By default, images rendered in the K360 viewer will be watermarked (but all other functions in the application work).
  • To remove this watermark, the application will require a registration user name and licence number.
  • Licences cost L$3980 and can be purchased from the Kanae Project in-world store.

Download and Installation

  • Download the viewer from the Kanae Project website as a .ZIP file. It’s is available in both Windows 32-bit and Windows 64-bit versions.
  • Navigate to the downloaded .ZIP file and extract the contents to a folder / location of your choice on your computer.
  • Navigate to that folder, open it and double-click on the K360.exe file to launch the viewer.

Using K360

Resizing the Application Window

By default,the K360 application window may open to a fairly small size on your screen. To adjust this, either:

  • Click the window maximise button, top right, or
  • Manually resize the window by dragging out the edges.

The Interface and Controls

The K360 interface comprises up to six buttons:

Register – click to open the project registration field to enter your user name and your purchased licence number, as obtained via your purchased registration HUD. Once conformed as valid, this icon will no longer be displayed. Ensure you keep the registration HUD safe.
Select and open any folder containing 360º snapshots.
Page back / forth all suitable images in the selected folder.
Produce a snapshot of the current 360º image. Note that as the 360º image is spherical, this may result in a “curved” flat image.
Re-centre the current image after scrolling around it.

When you have opened a 360º image for viewing:

  • Click and hold the left mouse button to drag-rotate the image (or roll your trackball in the required direction.
  • Use the mouse wheel to zoom in / out of an image.
  • Use the Reset button to re-centre the image to how it appeared on first opening it after rotating / scrolling / zooming, if required.

You can also hide / unhide the the interface buttons by clicking on the “ribbon” containing the Open, Snapshot and Re-centre buttons.


K360 is probably a little ahead of its time. As it is there are further fixes required to the 360º snapshot viewer before it is ready for prime time imaging capability of the 360º Snapshot viewer (notably, objects outside of the camera’s field of viewer when the capture process commences don’t always show as correctly rendered in a completed shot  – these are known issues, and Linden Lab is working to correct them).

A 360 image using 360 Snapshot project viewer (version shown in the K360 app. Note the denuded tree is an example of the rendering issues that can occur with the Snapshot viewer at the time of writing (Interest List issues). Issue like this will hopefully be resolved in time, allowing the viewer to eventually progress to release status.

In this respect, the value you get out of K360 at this point in time could be variable – although if you want to give it a try and don’t mind the watermarks appearing across your images, it won’t cost you a penny to do so.

If you already have a selection of 360º images from the 360º snapshot viewer or from the various camera HUDs that are available – or indeed stored on your PC from the physical world – and would like a quick and easy way to view them on your computer, then K360 might well be worth a look.

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