Making better Second Life snapshots using the environment editor, part one

Czechoslovakia sim at noon

Czechoslovakia sim at noon

In ancient times, only the greatest of prophets could blot out the sun, but today any lowly mouse or trackball can accomplish it, at least in Second Life. This is a key element in making great Second Life snapshots.

High noon may be a fine time for an Old West shootout, but not for snapshooting. At high noon in Second Life, just as in your first life, high noon is a time of few shadows and little left to the imagination. Unlike in your first life, however, in Second Life you can do something about it. You can be like one of those ancient prophets. You can move the sun, or blot it out completely.

Let’s return to the Czechoslovakia sim. The following SLURL should get you there: slurl.com/secondlife/Czechoslovakia/68/135/58. This should place your avatar in the very same church tower from which I made these snapshots (the tower in the center of the picture). In my previous column, the picture you saw of it showed a brooding, fog-shrouded place of mystery. If you go there at high noon, however, and take a snapshot of what you see, you’ll get a much less interesting picture, like at the one the left.. It’s certainly an attractive and old city, but the snapshot of it could be, well, snappier.

Czechoslovakia sim at sunrise

Czechoslovakia sim at sunrise

Now let’s try a simple change. In Second Life, click "World" and then on the dropdown menu click "Environment Settings". You’ll see a new menu. The first four choices are "Sunrise", "Midday", "Sunset" and "Midnight". Try clicking each of them to see how it changes your picture, and how the Second Life sun comes from different directions at sunset and sunrise. For the picture at the right, I used Sunrise.

Second Life Environment Editor

Second Life Environment Editor

The four presets we saw in the preceding example can be very useful in every day life, but for making good snapshots we need greater control over the position of the sun. This calls for using the Environment Editor. To open the Environment Editor, go down to the bottom of the Environment Settings menu we used in the last example and click "Environment Editor".

You’ll see two times on the left side of the Environment Editor window: the current Second Life time (which is based on four hour days and one hour nights), and below that you’ll see "12:00 PM". There’s a slide to the right of "12:00 PM". Try sliding it around and watch how the angle of the sun changes. If you look up into the sky while doing it, you’ll see the sun and moon move across the sky as you move the slider.

Czechoslovakia sim at 7:40pm

Czechoslovakia sim at 7:40pm

This is the picture of Czechoslovakia that resulted when I moved the slider to "7:40 PM".

You can see how simply moving the sun, like an ancient prophet, can dramatically change your photographs. Play around with it. Don’t worry, unlike the sun in our first lives, in Second Life no one else sees your sun. You can move it all you want and not affect anyone else. It’s all done in the Second Life viewer installed on your computer, and has no effect at all on how other people experience Second Life.

Tomorrow in part two I’ll continue discussing the Environment Editor. Until then, play around with what I’ve shown you today.

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