My First Photo Hunt Challenge

Once again the odd patterns in my Second Life converge to lead me into a new experience, and in doing so, give birth to their own post.

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis, Carrie Lexington’s SLife Fantastic recently had post about a weekly Photo Hunt Challenge.  I was quite intrigued by the concept, but as it’s hosted by a group called Virtual Artist Alliance and has been around for a while I thought I’d probably be out of my league by attending. I marked it for my ever growing SL bucket list and moved on to my next project.

It wasn’t long after that I started to read about a photo contest for the upcoming Vintage Fair and while I was mulling over the idea of entering I wanted to ask the SLU community about their thoughts on photo contests in general before I decide. Two of the members responded by recommending that I try the very same Virtual Artist Alliance Photo Hunt Challenges that Carrie had written about. I’ve learned long ago not to fight these coincidences in my life, they happen for a reason, so when Wednesday night rolled around, I was there.

Garden Shed

The premise is very simple. Everyone meets and once the Photo Hunt Organizer says GO we click to receive a notecard that includes a landmark and a theme. We then have one hour to take pictures and return to enter our best one on the contest board.

The theme this week was “Got to get back to the land and set my soul free” and we were given the landmark to Pixel Mode / T Town.   The pictures can’t be edited, pure Second Life tools only, though I did find out I could snap them all to my desktop and only upload my favorite which was great news because the way I take pictures 10L a shot would bankrupt me!

I had two goals in this challenge, and no, winning never entered my mind. Like the color challenges I’m hoping to use these to further explore my creative side and develop my skills. My two goals were to work on my composition, an area I still need a lot of work, and to not use myself the subject of the shot.

The first picture, above, I snapped within the first 10 minutes. Passable, but I still had time so I slowed down and tried to see what else I could find.

Lazy River

I was quite pleased with the lighting and reflections I got in this second one, but I nipped the edge of the oar in the shot and I wasn’t quite sure it fully captured the theme.  I couldn’t submit this one, and the first wasn’t quite as good as I hoped but with only 10 minutes left before I had to return, I couldn’t help notice others were already leaving our location. In a panic I let my camera roam and landed on this angle inside a barn. Something about the way the light was coming in and especially the way you can see a peek of me outside the window there, felt just right and to me,  captured Got to get back to the land and set my soul free” and the added message that I needed to tell myself, Never Throw In The Towel.

Never Throw In The Towel

I returned just in time to upload and add my picture to the contest board, and was stunned to see a total of 28 entries. I knew there had been a crowd, but seeing all the pictures lined up like that was a real surprise. With all of us given the same location, the same theme, no two were alike. The next part, voting for a winner, proved to me the most difficult for me.  As I was looking around I noticed Carrie, the very person whose blog brought me here, so I had to pounce her IM and say hi.

Normally there are only three winners, but in this case because of some tied voting, they opted to give out a joint fourth prize as well. I am stunned to report that I was one of the people who shared a fourth place prize. I’ll admit, I was excited, I so rarely get any feedback on my pictures so I spend a lot of time fumbling around trying to decide if it’s even worth continuing on this learning curve or not. I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress since I started, but sometimes, I don’t honestly know. Somehow knowing some people liked and voted on my picture really brought home the message that I should continue, and most importantly that I was right in trying to work towards my new goals.

The Virtual Artist Alliance Photo Hunt Challenges are held twice a week, and I will be attending as many of the Wednesday night ones as I can manage. It will be tight for me to get there in time, but I’m certainly going to try. This is a great group, super friendly and helpful, and I wish I’d found this months ago. It combines all the things I want out of my Second Life; meet new people, visit new places, capture the incredible works of SL’s content creators, and in the process develop new ways to express my creativity.

If you are interested in taking photos in Second Life, or in meeting new people and touring new places, I highly recommend coming out for a challenge.  Again, like far too many of the wonderful groups and places that make up our Second Lives, this runs on a donations so please give generously to keep this going.

Virtual Artist Photo Hunt Challenges:  Monday Mornings at  11:30 am and Wednesday Evenings at 6 pm

Location for Pictures:  Pixel Dreams –  Pixel Mode / T town

So I Signed Up for an SL Dating Service

I spent so many years on roleplay sims and partnered that I don’t actually know a lot about the current dating scene in Second Life and I decided it was time to find out. Sure, I could stand around which ever dance or romance sim comes up first in search hoping someone talks to me, but when I set my mind to do something, I go all out. I signed up for an SL dating service called Avmatch.

The first part was easy, create an account on the website then go to the Avmatch location in Second Life and confirm my avatar identity by clicking on their sign there. The next step was start filling out your profile by selecting a user name for the site and you can’t use your SL name as an identifier which makes sense, or people could just browse and IM you in world so you have to create a name from a list of word choices.  Then came the hard part, filling out the rest of my profile. Many of the check box type questions to describe yourself, and what you were looking for, were easy enough, but both the short free text intro box and the longer description of yourself once people click your profile was much, much harder.

The truth is, I’m not at all interested in an SL relationship or being partnered and I don’t want an SL boyfriend. I know some claim that I’m bitter, carrying a torch, or martyring myself (and those are my friends) but the reason doesn’t matter. It’s just not what I’m looking for. I will admit they are right about one thing though, being single doesn’t have to mean being alone, which is why I’m doing this.

I didn’t want to lead anyone on, so I was very blunt in my Avmatch profile. I don’t like to voice and I won’t send RL pictures. I’m not even looking for an SL relationship, just casual dating. I used to be a gorean roleplayer and now I blog. I don’t read text speak so I’m looking for someone who uses full words. If that doesn’t scream date me, I don’t know what does.

I never did expect anyone would contact me based on my profile, but I was hopeful I might see an interesting person to send a message to. As I searched through my matches, and then profiles that weren’t even in my time zone, it became immediately obvious that I might be in the wrong place. Many of the people on the site are looking for an exclusive and serious SL relationship, some are even very straight forward about hoping it would transfer to RL. Most express an interest, even a requirement, of both voice and pictures.

Feeling a bit stalled as to my next step I went to join the Happy Clams to dance, and of course to tell them what I’d done. In the midst of them teasing me about joining a dating service, a notice popped up in Second Life telling me that I had a message on Avmatch and to log in to read it. At first I thought it was so cool that the service contacted me in SL that I didn’t react to the fact that I had a message. Once I did log into the site… I couldn’t read my message. You need a “token” in order to establish a contact which allows you to read or send messages to them.

The site gives you 2 free tokens per month, but I hadn’t gotten mine yet as my profile was only about an hour old. I updated the Clams as to the latest, that I actually DID get contacted, but that I’d have to pay 550L to buy 5 tokens so my dating days were basically over before they started because I’m too cheap to spend that. Being the friends they are, I suddenly had the money. Friends that pay to get you a date? I’m the luckiest girl in SL… I think?

The message was very brief, basically an “I like your profile” sort of thing, and I responded in my usual TL:DR style. He did write back, surprisingly, giving me his SL name and suggesting we meet. In for a penny, in for a pound right? Or in this case, the $550L donation that was to pay for me to get a date so I sent the IM and accepted the teleport and thus began my first Second Life blind date.

This is getting long now, if you want to read about how the date went, the rest is behind the spoiler

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