Flickr Furor

FlickrCameraIt seems that Flickr is once again embroiled in a kerfuffle with SL users.

Many SL bloggers and stores use Flickr to post their photos and promote photos.  The TOS of Flickr states (and has for a while) that only Pro users (paid users) are allowed to promote ‘commercial activity.’  (See here for Flickr’s policy.)

The kerfuffle seems to have occurred because Flickr has started to enforce its policy.  Flickr has been suspending the accounts of SL’ers who have posted Marketplace and store links.  There has been some confusion about what is allowed and what isn’t, and, of course, as with any change, people are frustrated and upset.  There’s a good post over at New World Notes about the issue.

Flickr has been struggling to attract more Pro users and many see this as a way to force people to go Pro.  This issue doesn’t really affect me, so I am perhaps less invested in it.

I think Flickr is a terrific platform and I use it almost daily.  However, when they announced last year that free accounts would now be limited in the amount of photos they could post, I had to decide whether I wanted to go Pro or remove many of my photos so I was under the required limit.

I decided to remain with a free account and I deleted a bunch of photos from Flickr.  I keep my own copies of every photo I post, so I didn’t lose anything by deleting them from Flickr.  I doubt that is true for everyone.

For the last year or so, I generally only blog about destinations, not products, so the restriction on links doesn’t apply to my photos.  (Linking SLURL’s, as long as they are not links to a store, are fine.)  And while the 1000 photo limit on a free account sounded like a huge cut when it was previously unlimited, I have plenty of slots left until I reach that limit.

For people who are creators and bloggers, that 1000 limit may be way too small.  I don’t post every day on Flickr, so it doesn’t bother me.  However, I also understand that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Flickr could have chosen to do away completely with their free account option.  It seems like most things these days are based on the subscription model anyway.

If they want to limit the free account, whether that limit is amount of photos, or limitations on commercial activity, it’s their prerogative.  The free accounts still incur a cost for Flickr – hosting the photos, maintaining the site, making improvements, etc.  None of the people who work for Flickr are doing it for free, and they shouldn’t be expected to.

So for me, I will continue on with my free account, and respect the Flickr TOS.  If at some point, how I use the service changes, I will have to decide whether I want to pay to go Pro or find another free service.  And really, for what you get, $5 a month for a Pro account doesn’t seem that onerous.

Different Strokes

Busy Bee
Me this week!
Image Source: http://www.clipartpanda.com

One of the things I love is going to different places in SL, exploring and taking photos of all the amazing sims I find.  I follow blogs of fellow explorers and and lots of people on Flickr so I can find cool places to photograph.

It’s always interesting to me when I see how differently each photographer experiences the same place.  As new sims pop up, people will go explore and photograph, and their photographs will inspire me to go to the same place and explore.

Sometimes, though, even though I find other people’s photos beautiful and amazing, when I visit the same sim, I’m hard pressed to find anything I want to photograph myself.

Nothing wrong with that, of course – different strokes for different folks and all that.  But it is often frustrating, because I have limited time to explore these days, so visiting some place without taking any photos is an aggravation I don’t need.

For instance, yesterday I had some free time to explore, so I did.  I visited probably 12 different sims.  Of those 12, 5 were a bust – I could tell immediately upon landing they just weren’t for me.  Again – this is not to say that there was anything wrong with these sims, just that they weren’t something I was interested in photographing.

Of the 7 left, I wandered around 2 of them, hunting for something to shoot.  Nothing caught my eye, so I left without taking any photos.  So, down to 5.  I took a few photos at 2 of them, but once I had time to sit down and look at the photos, I didn’t really like any of them.

That left 3 sims that I actually took photos of.  The first sim I visited was amazing and I took a load of photographs.  Maybe that’s why some of the next ones were disappointing.  However, I persevered and ended up with some good shots I will be sharing here and on Flickr.

If you’ve visited any fabulous sims lately, please share!

Furillen

Furillen is a sim I’ve visited before, but it is constantly being reinvented.  One constant, however, is that it’s always an amazing place to take photographs, and this iteration is no exception.

It is a wintery, bleak landscape, but it is easy to lose yourself in the grandeur of the scenery.  These trees seem to touch the sky as you stand underneath.

There are a lot of places to sit and reflect in Furillen, including this eclectic collection of chairs near the edge of the water.  I can almost smell the salt on the air and feel the spray on my face.

This seemingly abandoned caravan looks so lonely underneath the bare branches of the tree, yet somehow also welcoming.

I’m always fascinated by which pieces of ‘real life’ make it into sim design.  These utility poles are a great example of things that add realism to the sim – things we see every day, but don’t even think about anymore.

Judging by the multitude of pics I’ve seen on Flickr, many other SL’ers find Furillen as fascinating as I did.

When taking photos, I often spend quite a bit of time playing around with windlights.  Not so here.  The region windlight seemed perfect for the sim, and I couldn’t find anything I thought looked better.

So if you’re ready to spend a bit of time wandering in the cold and snow, make sure to add Furillen to your travel list.

 

The Last Dove

After seeing lots of pictures of this sim on Flickr, I added the Last Dove to my list of sims to visit.  As a resident of a very rural town, and a very rural state, in many ways, this sim feels like home.

You can almost smell the wood smoke and feel the dust coating your face as you travel across the bridge into the town proper.  I love how the building on the left has a large board propping up the signage/facade of the building – like you’re walking onto the set of an old spaghetti western.

I think this house/shack is one I pass on my way to work every day – including the chickens in the road I have to dodge.  -.-

We don’t have longhorns where I live, but we do have plenty of cows and bulls.  A long ago piece of advice I received:  If you find yourself in a field with a cow or a bull, and you don’t know the difference – run.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but thankfully I’ve never had to worry about it.

There’s a lot to see at the Last Dove, so hit that tp button and go see for yourself.

VUK and Author’s Point

This fall, I made a decision that I would spend more time in SL.  I wanted to explore, practice my photography, and just generally have fun.  However, given my almost year-long hiatus from SL, I’m finding it hard to work the time for it back into my life.

Once I wasn’t spending time daily in SL, that time of course got filled up with other things – RL things.  And it’s been difficult to carve out that time in SL again, much as I want to, because things in RL take precedence.

Once school started back up, I thought I would have more free time, but I’m discovering I have less.  I haven’t taken on any extra commitments, so I’m hard-pressed to explain why my free time is suddenly at such a premium.

In any case, I do want to spend more time in SL, so I’m going to have to figure out how to do that.  I did manage to spend a little time exploring last week, visiting some sims that I discovered via Flickr.

It’s funny how some sims make me want to take a photo of everything, and other sims I find myself searching for something to take a photo of.  Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

So although I didn’t get a lot of photographs of some sims, they are still worth visiting.  VUK was one such sim – I did take some photos, but I’m still experimenting with my photography and I ended up with only one photo I felt was worth sharing.

I loved the windlight on this sim – grey and hazy, but it fit the landscape very well.

I also spent some time exploring Author’s Point, but I was rushed and I only took one photo.  When I came back to look at them for editing – ugh.  I was rushing and it clearly showed.  However, the sim is definitely still worth exploring, so head on over and check it out for yourself.

Bakes On Mesh Series – Part 3 (Hands and Feet)

Whew! I can’t believe it’s Part 3 of this series already!  So much information – and I still think I missed some points, but covering everything would make this series even longer, so I’ll just stick to the plan.

This time, I’d like to take a look at how BOM works with hands and feet.  As I mentioned in the previous post, it’s a known issue that BOM can cause problems with hands and feet, particularly around the area of the fingernails and toenails.

Original system skins were created using the system avatar.  (Remember the hideous club feet and the permanent jazz hands?)  Because of this, when you apply old system skins to mesh hands and feet, they don’t usually match up.

Here’s a picture of the Glam Affair Margot skin and how it looks with the Maitreya mesh hands.

You can see the nails of the skin under the mesh fingernails.  Not a great look.  There are some workarounds, though they are not all perfect either.  One option is to buy tintable BOM layers (usually gloves and socks) that you can tint to match your skin.  There are a ton of them available on Marketplace, so just do some searching.  I bought the fix from SmitCo and tried them.

Here is a pic of the fix layer around the fingernails before I tinted them.  You can see that the nails look slightly better, even though the skin isn’t the right color yet.

Here is a pic of the fix after a quick tint (I didn’t take the time to go find the RGB value of the skin I was wearing, though of course your match will be better if you do that).  Not bad, and certainly not as noticeable as in the first picture.

Since I had already purchased the SLink Redux body bundle, I knew that a nail fix was included.  I decided to try it, knowing that it was made for SLink mesh hands, not my Maitreya ones. It was better, but still not great, because the nail beds didn’t line up on the pinky or index fingers.

So I still need a better fix if I’m going to use my Maitreya body with BOM and old system skins.  Keep in mind, as creators begin making new skins specifically for BOM, this issue will hopefully be addressed.

The same issue occurs around the feet.  Here’s a look at my Maitreya feet with just the Glam Affair skin using BOM.

Not attractive.  So I tried the tintable layers from the SmitCo fix I bought.  However, I could not get them to tint.  They were a grey color and I couldn’t get them to change to anything else.

I’m not sure if it’s an issue with the layers, or if it was user error.  I should have tried the SLink fix on the Maitreya feet, but I neglected to do that.  Again, however, as new BOM skins are released, it should become a non-issue.

In the last post of this series, I’ll take a look at how the SLink Redux body bundle works, along with the fixes for the hands and feet.  Finally, I’ll also try on some system layer clothing and see how it works with BOM.

New Black Dragon Viewer Update

Image Source: xelerus.de

This was brought to my attention by a post in the Visionaire group from WrenNoir Cerise.  There has been an update to the Black Dragon viewer.

I’ve used the Black Dragon viewer before and really liked it for taking photos.  However, I haven’t used it in ages – mostly because I haven’t really been in SL much in ages.

But I will definitely be downloading it and trying it out.

The new update apparently lets you move any/all of the individual bones that make up your avatar.  So you can pose yourself exactly how you want.

WrenNoir included a link to a video in her notice, which I’ve embedded below.  If you can’t see the video, click here for the link.

The music was a tad annoying, so I muted it.  The first part of the video shows the editing of the avatar pose in Black Dragon.  The last half is photo editing in Photoshop, so you can skip that if you’ve no interest in that part.

I can’t wait to dig in and start experimenting.  Thanks to Wren for the heads up!