The New Breed of Virtual Photographer

It’s nearing 2007, and that means retrospectives and year-end reviews. American Photo, for example, published the Photography Innovators of 2006 list, covering everything from top photography blogs (to which I would add Digital Photography School) to galleries and photojournalism, among other areas. Definitely worth a look.

However, this year also saw the growth of a new type of photography, one that doesn’t rely on using a camera, at least not in the traditional sense — but instead captures images of the virtual reality world Second Life through a variety of keystrokes and computer mouse moves.

Torley Linden, the avatar of Linden Lab employee Torley Wong, created an excellent 11-minute tutorial on the mechanics of taking these images. Titled Advanced Snapshot Magic, the video teaches tricks about zooming onto targets, creating the best lighting by using the “Force Sun” function or setting up one’s own lights, effectively using the camera controls, and using “Mouselook” mode to get the best angle for taking compelling shots.

As these snapshots are used more frequently in news stories and blog posts –- and will perhaps be specifically commissioned –- the issue of giving appropriate photo credits, whether to the Second Life avatars or the people behind them, will likely be more heavily discussed.

Meanwhile, most of these images are currently published on photo-sharing sites such as Flickr (see also Flickr’s Second Life and the Second Life Photo Assignments) and Snapzilla, which is part of the site, a third-party Second Life community site. The snapshots range from examples such as the seasonal Snowbabies, to the fantastical The Lost Glenn and Starax “Flower”, to the stunning St Paul’s Cathedral.

[tags]andrea weckerle, Linden, Second Life photography, virtual photography[/tags]

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