Monday, October 31, 2011

Photospot: Witches Camp

Photospot on SL Unearthed is a semi-regular feature that highlights a Second Life spot that is a cool place at which to take portrait photos inworld. Not an entire sim, not even a complete parcel, but just a single specific location - a spot - with portrait opportunity.

Happy Hallowe'en! I have consulted the ancient grimoire and for this final day of October, it suggests that it's time to bring out your witches and wizards for one last dance around the cauldron before the fantastic outfits/avatars of October get buried in inventory under mounds of coming snow. So that is our photographic mission today.
Aero Pines Park and Recreation Area is an estate comprised of 12 connected sims, primarily serving as training simulation grounds for first responders and other hazardous occupations (such as firefighters and rescue teams). The sims are also a public hot spot with trails and events such as concerts, exhibitions, expos, rallies, races, rodeos. For October (and only until November 6, so don't delay), they're featuring the Halloween Trail which includes the spot we're visiting for Halloween today - Witches Camp.
Photospot: Witches Camp
This is an area designated by a curve in the road, partially surrounded by spooky, not-quite-dead trees. There is much activity in this area including particles, lights, animated textures and moving objects. Give it all time to rez, then start looking for camera angles. There are a few black cats, witchy familiars. There is a table with lots of witchy goodness (including what appears to be eyeball & brain cupcakes!), a few spiders and a couple cauldrons. One cauldron has poseballs so that you and a friend can stir the pot (which could contain someone else)! There are a variety of witches here already, of many types in various forms, and you might want them joining you in your shots. Then you can play "which witch is which?"
which witch?

Witchy Turn and Sigh

For lighting, anything suitably dark and spooky will do the trick here. At minimum, set Sun to Midnight, but you'll probably want to go beyond that. Aero Pines recommends using the "Ghost" Windlight setting.

My witch gravitated to the cauldron which was bubbling and glowing green, so I switched to "Gelatto" and pretty much kept it there for the rest of the shoot, modifying the setting slightly with different camera changes. (I believe "Ghost" and "Gelatto" are settings that come with each viewer, so they should both be in your list. "Ghost" is similar to "Foggy" but darker-toned, while "Gelatto" is darkly clear with chartreuse and green tones.)

Start with Midnight or a setting like Ghost, but do experiment from there. The concept of Halloween witches can be expressed in a number of different hues. Of course orange, green, purple, but you might also find something exciting with reds, teals or deep blues. Maybe even pink?

witch's cauldron
And don't neglect to play with the mysterious ground fog (which offered extra fun later when adding color gradient overlays)! Last call for 2011: Halloween will soon be over. Be sure to visit Witches Camp before it closes Sunday.
foggy witch

Flickr members: you're invited to join the SL Unearthed Photospot group and add your pictures taken at Photospot locations to the group pool.
Take note that very little in SL stays the same for very long. After even a short while, Photospot locations may be gone or changed in a significant way that renders their SLurls ineffective as originally intended, so be sure to grab these opportunities as they come!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photospot: Tormented gravedigging

Photospot on SL Unearthed is a semi-regular feature that highlights a Second Life spot that is a cool place at which to take portrait photos inworld. Not an entire sim, not even a complete parcel, but just a single specific location - a spot - with portrait opportunity.

Let it rez. Yes, I know you hear that all the time, but when you land at today's Photospot, really, let it rez. There is a lot going on around the landing point, including particles and sculpts and stuff you don't want to miss, so be patient. There's no rush here. After all, the denizens of these graves, tombs and catacombs aren't going anywhere...! (Some graveyard humor. ;)
(Note: When I visited again just prior to posting, the landing point was disabled. I don't know if that was temporary or not, so it's possible you'll land right at the gravesite. If so, there'll be no beacon to follow and some of the navigational references might not make sense unless you walk over to the base of the stairs first.) When all is in focus, you'll see a teleport system in the stone idol nearby which might come in handy later, but we prefer to walk where we're going anyway. Straight ahead up the stairs is a graveyard with a lot of photo opportunities that include freshly dug graves and even the chance to entomb yourself, if you're into doing that sort of thing.
Photospot: Tormented gravedigging
If you continue forward through the graveyard and follow the paths (both left and right), you'll discover the stores of our hosts. The shops are cleverly intertwined with the area's appearance and situated amidst the Tormented Woods, "a dark land overrun by the BloodWorx hordes: Metal Gear, PrimEvil, Dead Center, Hells Forge, and UberDark. Enter at [your] own risk." You might enjoy doing some shopping here, particularly as Halloween approaches. There's a little something for everyone on the dark end of things.
If you continue to follow the pathways back here, you'll find an arena and what looks to be a giant statue of Cthulhu. As a consideration, maybe you shouldn't walk these pathways alone. There are ruins and graves. There are skeletons, crows and bats. Our BloodWorx hosts clearly had an enjoyable and very creative time putting this area together. Yet still amazing is that the area occupies less than half a sim, and most incredibly, it's *mainland*. You would not have guessed that if I hadn't mentioned it. I find it quite an impressive achievement. As I poked around, I noticed JubJub Forder's name frequently. It's a familiar name if you've seen items from Relics or Aja or Sculpts Only Mall. Well, guess who's behind BloodWorx, too? For more of the history, I found a little info about this area at his website.
unseelie among the sepulchers
You will be tempted to take photos all around these Tormented Woods, and I sure won't stop you. But now that we've had a good look around and I've done my (rather poor) imitation of Cicadetta, let's home in on today's particular spot and get down to business. Follow the beacon (if it didn't land you directly here) to this freshly dug grave not far from the original landing point. There must be something in your inventory suitable for wearing in this environment, especially so recently after the Supernatural, Twisted and Macabre hunts, right? Like with this very cool unseelie avatar from Malfean Visions, I get to wear a lantern on my tail. That's sure a treat that doesn't happen every day. So have a poke around and dig something up - yeah, that's a little gravedigger joke there.
Set up your lighting and work with the variety of fore- and backgrounds that can be viewed from here. Be alert when aiming toward the SW where the trees are a bit more open, but the other directions are all quite workable. There are masoleums, crypt ruins, a couple types of fences, trees and general vegetation - all of which can produce viable ambient backgrounds to your portraits.
The crows are not very good conversationalists, but they will keep a close eye on you. Perhaps too close. You better keep an eye on them, too. Watch their movements carefully, and with a little patience, you'll be able to catch them looking in the right direction for what you need. In this manner, although it took a little extra time, I love how the crows became legitimate characters in my unseelie's pictorial story.
crow watching
JubJub Forder, stealth snapI really took a liking to the looks of the path next to the grave, and after reading about the construction of these Tormented Woods, I understand now that we're seeing a sculpt which JubJub shaped to fit the terrain. That means no transparent collision prims are needed (because we're walking on the ground just beneath the phantom sculpt), and it also explains how the texture work was done. It's definitely a great effect.
And then, as I stood on the path, extoling its virtues in draft, none other than the artist himself popped into the area briefly. I couldn't resist grabbing a stealth snap before he quickly vanished. Perhaps you'll run into him too, here at the gravesite in his Tormented Woods.

Flickr members: you're invited to join the SL Unearthed Photospot group and add your pictures taken at Photospot locations to the group pool.
Take note that very little in SL stays the same for very long. After even a short while, Photospot locations may be gone or changed in a significant way that renders their SLurls ineffective as originally intended, so be sure to grab these opportunities as they come!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Photospot: Charnel yard

Photospot on SL Unearthed is a semi-regular feature that highlights a Second Life spot that is a cool place at which to take portrait photos inworld. Not an entire sim, not even a complete parcel, but just a single specific location - a spot - with portrait opportunity.

If you're looking for a spooky sim to creep around in during October, Cute Poison should be on your list. Home of the Cute Poison mainstore and mall, the sim is fully fleshed (and rottenly decayed) in sinister glory. Lucky you gets to visit there for today's Photospot, which is a charnel yard situated up a hill and some distance from the landing point. Let the beacon be your guide.
Come prepared for an appropriate level of spookiness. The sim is holding a Scream Hunt for the final days of October; find a few sneaky ghosts, gain the prizes. You might want to allot extra time for that. But for now, head up the hill, past the sign reading "Pet Cemetery" and follow the path to beyond the iron gates where the beacon awaits you. You have arrived.
Photospot: Charnel yard
Every which way you turn, there are intriguing backgrounds to line up with. Many of the items, such as tree limbs and fence rails, could also be used as visual framing devices. Think of the fencing (and related items) as a kind of "window" to shoot through. Line up your camera and see what there is to see.
surveying her domain
The ground area, like so much of this macabre setting, is made of sculpts. When you want your feet clearly visible, the stairway (with its invisible collision prim) is probably the safest place to stand. To help the appearance of fog/haze extending further into the distance, I removed the Linden water from my view by unchecking Advanced > Rendering > Types > Water (or use Ctrl+Alt+Shift+7). Toggle it back on when done shooting, or let it return automatically upon relog.
the heights
The sim is cast in a state of neverending night, but you can still use Windlight here. The light can be modified to accentuate the darkness or to dispell it entirely. I enjoy boosting the highlights and modifying the colors. The charnel yard itself is mostly shades of gray and subdued tones which accept colored light quite amiably. If you (or your model) also dress in neutral tones, you'll be able to work with the full spectrum of color. Otherwise, like I did, work with colors that play well with what you brought. (The outrageously wonderful outfit worn here is an October gift from hoWear.)
entering the gates
And further, if you do as I do, you'll find ways in your graphic program to discover new colors and lighting. But however you work it, it all begins with the charnel yard. Be sure to check it out.
demon goddess

Flickr members: you're invited to join the SL Unearthed Photospot group and add your pictures taken at Photospot locations to the group pool.
Take note that very little in SL stays the same for very long. After even a short while, Photospot locations may be gone or changed in a significant way that renders their SLurls ineffective as originally intended, so be sure to grab these opportunities as they come!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Charity Event for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Best in Pink Event Poster

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Across the grid vendors have donation items for sale, and donations kiosks set out to collect money for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a fundraiser for The American Cancer Society that is earmarked for Breast Cancer research. Wednesday, October 19th at Noon Second Life Time, there will be a Best in Pink Event to aid in this fund raising. Join DJ Eagle Wilder and myself as event hostess at Club Medusa ... we'll have some great music, and good company, plus a contest board that will start at 700L (it may go up depending on the crowd!). The contest board does require an Amaranth group tag to join, however you don't need a group tag to join the fun. Neither Eagle nor myself will be setting out a tip jar, we ask instead that you donate to the Making Strides donations kiosk. Come join us and paint Medusa pink for the afternoon.

Halloween Goodies!

I love halloween, and halloween in SL is just fantastic! The costumes are amazing and the gift givers can be gracious.

Miel gave out two great "pumkiny" outfits in their subscribo (which she says will still be available, so run and get it now!) One is a pumkin dress with a leafy hat (not shown) and the other is this bag wrapped in rope dress with pumpkins in a sac on the back. Both pumkin parts feature pumkin faces that change (and are adorable!). The entire outfit is resize too, so it was easy peasy to fit on my BBW avi.

::Modish:: gave out a seriously gorgeous skin as a group gift. The group is free to join and the skin is just fabulous with its pouty lips, pale skin, well placed blush and dark eyes, its the type of skin I adore. I also snagged some eye makeup from their gatcha machine - there were many possible winning styles!

The hair I'm wearing is a new release, and my new favorite, from ChiChickie! It was on sale, but I do believe the sale is up. You can still snag a pack for $200L for 4-color pack. A classic but flirty style, I am completely in love with this hair.

I hope everyone is enjoying the festive halloween season - its certainly not too soon to break out the costumes!

Other stuff in the pictures:

Backdrop is from "Off
the wall"

Pose is from
Eyes are

Ears are from

Monday, October 17, 2011

Virtual Attire Pumpkin Hunt!

It's that time of year again, and Virtual Attire is holding the annual pumpkin hunt. There are 37 pumpkins to find, and each one has goodies inside that will appeal to anyone with an interest in neko, punk, cyber, goth, elfin, scene or combinations. Men, you'll have to search twice as hard for half as much, but there are enough prizes for you to make it worth your while, too (and some of the accessories from the female gifts can readily be scaled up for the male avatar).

The pic below shows just five of the 37 prizes. (Skin, shape, hair not included.) The pumpkins are not exactly hidden, but scattered enough around the shops of the area to give you a pretty good tour as you track them down. While hunting, maybe you'll also have a chance to hop on a lucky chair or two!
pumpkin hunt  @Virtual Attire

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A TINY bit of Halloween Fun

Tinies, ever wish for a hunt that was just for you? "Biggies" ever think about going tiny? Well y'all are in luck! From October 15th - October 31st you can do the Tinies Halloween Hunt. You'll be looking for itty bitty little pumpkin at are 28 stops, two of which have two hunt gifts (one for the girls and one for the guys), each stop's gift costs 1L ... so for under 30L you can get some pretty awesome little gifts ... Take a look:

THH 23
Complete tiny avatar from stop #23

Another complete tiny avatar from stop #6

THH 16
Costumes from stop #16 (I've edited and uploaded this picture 3 times, I don't know why the blur is there)

Clothing from stops #1, 8, 12, 26, 27 and 28 ... As you can see from the pictures, two of the stops offer an outfit that is suitable for both male and female, and stops #26 and 27 offer a male outfit and a female outfit in seperate pumpkins.
THH 1 and 4 THH 8 THH 12 and 10 THH 26 THH 27 THH 28

The hats shown in two of the pictures do not come with the outfits, here's a view of those hats, plus a third that comes as just the hat.

Stop #4 - touch the hat when worn and the stacks emit steam/smoke

THH 10
Stop # 10

THH 17
Stop #17

In addition to the avatars, costumes, clothing and hats, several of the stops have adorable furnishings and toys:

Drive-able tinies coffin car from stop #7

THH 11
Ride-able Pentagram Merry-go-round from stop #11. Each spiderweb is a spot for a tiny to sit.

THH 24
Fly-able bat from stop #24. It works like any plane in SL, and comes with directions. I couldn't get a picture with me sitting on it because it was moving while I was trying to frame the shot.

THH 21
Gnome Home from stop #21. It's rather large, could work for a 'normal' sized avatar as a small cottage, you can see my tiny little speck of a self in the doorway of the house.

Misc Decor:

THH 3 THH 5 THH 13 THH 15 THH 18 THH 22 THH 25

Many of the decor items are big enough that they could easily be used as decor for a "normal" sized avatar's home/garden. There are a few stops with gifts like gestures which obviously cannot be photographed and so aren't included here.

Start the hunt here ... The hunt has a blog located here with hints for most stops.

Sim Crossing - SEEADLER

Banner - Sim Crossing

Every couple of weeks (RL-willing), I drop in on a Second Life sim -- one square on the grid -- just to see what's there.  And every couple of weeks, I find a treasure or two.  One never knows what one will find in an unknown region!  This feature details the results of my explorations.  

Seeadler - Map

I land near the southeast corner of SEEADLER.  It's been a successful teleport.  I've been booted from one sim, found another empty (and for rent) aside from its interesting terrain, failed in a teleport to another, but this one works.  In fact, it asks my permission to change my windlight settings (Yes please!), and gentle piano music plays in the background.  This land, according to the navigation bar, is Crescent*Moon.  And according to the parcel details, it is owned by Yuki, aka Snowflower Magic.  My music stream is not on, so I don't know where the music is coming from, but I welcome it.  This sim provides a sense of peace, odd and lovely as it is.

Seeadler - Landing

Before me is a wooden walkway through a grassy meadow.  A lantern glows.  Narnia?  Not really, but I can pretend.  I want to take the walkway, but there's something behind me, tucked in the corner.  I should look at that first.

I am hoof deep in clear, rippling water.  There is a cafe here, complete with sizzling breakfast, bunnies on the bar, and pumpkin decor.  Beyond is a shelf with unhatched Meeroos, and grown ones chatter off to my right.  There is an odd assortment of places to sit scattered about.  A rocking horse, floating chairs, and some comfy plush chairs near the corner of a ruined brick wall are all available for someone who wants to rest their weary feet.  This is a place of glowing butterflies and peacock feathered trees, beautiful and eery and somehow perfect for the season it's currently decorated for.

Seeadler - Crescent Moon
But I have to move on, so back to the walkway I go, northerly past the Lantern Waste and through the meadow.  There is a wooden bridge not far ahead, and trees done up for autumn.  The music fades as I walk, into… something new?  After a moment to test out a swing, I cross the bridge, past a raccoon, to a flowery lavender meadow.  There are male/female pose balls on the bridge, and couples dance balls here.  The autumn cafe is set up for a party, but this, an area that I'll consider spring-oriented, is more private.  There is only the one set of dance balls here, and there is one canopied couch that overlooks a pair of swans gliding around a pond.

Seeadler - Swan pond

The thing is, I'm alone here, and it seems strange to linger in a couple's area.  Besides, the music of autumn and spring overlaps oddly.  I keep moving north, through a deep channel, and into a new parcel.  It's unnamed, and while sparsely decorated, it's very cute.  Owned by Mayu Kanya, it seems to be a place for child's play.  There is a grand treehouse, too, but I'd prefer to move on.

The parcel to the west is owned by Nori Watkins.  A wooden couples' bench sits under an ivy-colored pergola, on a rise overlooking a channel, another bridge, and what appears to be somebody's house.  Or is it a shop?  It's hard to tell sometimes.  My first instinct, though, is that it's someone's home, so I just look from a distance, and keep going.

Seeadler - Overlook

I find Pomodoro, a little shop near the center of Seeadler.  A cigarette stand, mailbox, and bench sit out front, and up the steps is the shop itself, selling earrings, shirts, odds and ends.  I find a fun tomato t-shirt, a necklace, and oh, some freebie wood-obake earrings for Halloween.  Very cute!  The t-shirt and necklace come in three-color packs.  I purchase those -- they are inexpensive -- try them on, and contemplate camping for more earrings.  It's time to move on to the last parcel.  Maybe some other time.

Seeadler - Pomodoro

I have to take a break in the middle of this exploration, and when I come back, I use the landmark Pomodoro has included with my purchases.  Oddly enough, it lands me quite near that house on the ridge.  It is mostly empty, this house of weathered white brick and wooden floors.  I assume that it is the former location of Pomodoro.  There is not much to see, aside from a fantastic view of the ocean, but there is plenty to imagine.

Seeadler - Old Pomodoro

Below the steep ridge -- it's quite a descent -- is a large firepit, a tree with poseballs beneath, and a wooden bridge.  I can see the other Pomodoro ahead.  That is where I reorient myself.

Seeadler - Down the hill

There is a deep channel between me and the southwest parcel.  I haven't seen much in the way of aquaculture here, so I fly rather than swim.

I land on a hill, which is partially done up for autumn, though the sunflowers and bunnies suggest spring or summer.  Is this parcel a retreat of some sort?  The home near the water seems to suggest that, as does the 7Seas Fishing setup on the shore.  I quite like this place, but it seems like a residential retreat, so I retreat myself, back to my initial landing point.  Crescent*Moon is still my favorite parcel here, after all of that, but I like Pomodoro, too.  It's a neat little shop.  Just be sure to use the right landmark!

Seeadler - Pomodoro goodies
Displaying the green tomato t-shirt, necklace, and wood-obake earrings from Pomodoro.


Location:  SEEADLER

Uses:  Hanging Out, Shopping

Hangout:  Crescent*Moon, spring meadow
Shopping:  Pomodoro

Highlights:  Crescent*Moon, Pomodoro