Tis The Season… For Good Intentions

I meant to get a post in before the holidays but it’s not looking like that is going to happen.  It was partially time, I think I’ve been online only once this week and that was to celebrate the Solstice with the Happy Clams, but mostly the problem was that I was drawing a blank trying to find the perfect Seasons Greetings type of post.  I’m not the biggest fan of wintery things, probably because I live with too much winter, and though I like Christmas I don’t tend to go all out in my decorations or costumes either.  The holidays for me are about loved ones, those who are there to support and laugh with us every day, and in many ways those who are not.

I tossed around the idea of writing a special message for each person I miss, and each person I’m grateful to have in my life, but the risk of leaving someone out worried me.  Then I decided at the very least I’d dress up in Holiday attire and visit one of the many Christmas locations on the grid right now to take pictures, but here I am on the 24th and as I sip my morning coffee and look over my to-do list it’s clear that isn’t going to happen.

I couldn’t just leave the blog with nothing to acknowledge the holidays so I decided that it’s close enough to the New Year that I could get a head start on one of those “a year in review” type of posts.  I had intended to do this in the fall when my blog turned one year old, but ….hmmm I’m sensing a pattern here.

Anyway, the holiday season always makes me nostalgic so I’m just going to show a collection of my favorite photoshoots from the last year. It’s a slideshow, so once you click play it *should* just go on it’s own. It seems to want to fight with me though, so I hope it works.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, however you celebrate.  In the mad rush of shopping, eating, and travelling I want to ask you all to take some time to reach out to someone, anyone.  It could be a loved one you haven’t seen in a while, it could be that person who is there every day and has become so comfortable you sometimes forget to hug, or maybe it’s a stranger who’s day might be a little brighter for that moment you take for them.

Thank you all for being part of this last year and see you in 2013!

With Love from The Wastelands

It’s that time of year again, the busy time.  If it’s not baking or school concerts, it’s shopping or visiting friends and family.  My preferred down time after a long hectic day is to escape and unwind in Second Life but lately it feels just as busy online as off.

There are quite a few big hunts, sales and events going on right now, the two I’m most excited about are the Peace on Earth Hunt  and the With Love Hunt.  Thanks to the Hint List  from Chic Management and the photo previews of the gifts on Seraphim  I managed to finish the With Love hunt.  The gifts aren’t free, but at 10L each they are a remarkably generous bargain.

I was unpacking my boxes and trying things on when this look naturally came together almost exclusively from With Love items.  Perhaps it’s all the talk of the world ending, or maybe it was just this fabulous hat, but something inspired me to revisit Wastelands to do this photoshoot.

My Support

As with every set I do, poses are my number one concern.  I can’t ever have enough poses.  They are what makes the image, tells the story, conveys the feeling.  I’m excited beyond belief that TWO major pose makers have advent calendars this month with daily gifts; both Adorkable and Exposeur.  I haven’t been online every day so I’ve missed a few, but the ones I’ve collected have been very worthwhile and Exposeur has even included some male poses and couples poses.

Is it bad that I find myself hoping I can log in for at least a few minutes every day just so that I can run out and get my poses?  I think it might be.  It’s not unusual for me to go a couple of days without logging in, but I’ll confess these last few weeks there has been an outburst or two when I realized I’d miss a calendar pose due to some internet problems I’ve been having.  I have issues.  I know this.

The Fissure

It’s been a couple years since I visited the Wastelands and I’m not really sure why I waited so long.  I suspect it’s partially because I’ve been a bit reluctant to explore or feature roleplay sims.  The few times since I started this project that I did visit an RP sim I got a strange sentimental urge to write stories again.  In truth, it got me down a bit.  Being around players in costumed characters and period settings, even as an observer, makes me miss the bonds, connections and communities I had for so long as a roleplayer.  I know I don’t have the time to commit to a character or sim anymore, so visiting them is a bit hard, sort of like going to at a buffet on a diet I guess.

The Road Ahead

Wastelands is so much more than just a place to write and dress up though, it’s a community, many of the players actually live there.  Their mishmash of camps, abandoned vehicles and outposts lends itself perfectly to the vibe and to the feeling of immersion.  It’s changed a lot since the last time I was there, as is normal I expect with the growth of mesh and the changeover in renters, but it still feels like the Wastelands.  I think it will always feel like the Wastelands and that sense of continuity is something I sometimes miss in Second Life.  Sims, stores and people come and go in our virtual lives, as is to be expected, but instead of chasing the new shiny I’m glad I took the time to reacquaint myself with what really is part of Second Life history.

Walls

Yes, that’s a wall.  I took a picture of a wall, a partial wall at that.  I wish I could explain why but I don’t even know.  Of all the remarkable things to see in the Wastelands this wall spoke to me.  I’m embarrassed to tell you how much time I spent there, but let’s just say I climbed the wall, I sat on the wall, I layed down next to the wall, I cammed it from every angle and tried every single one of my 300+ windlight settings before finally taking this picture.  The original is pretty close to this, but I decided to open it in Picmonkey to play around with contrast, sharpness and coloring and ended up with this final result.  It has an uncanny realism to it don’t you think?  I have no idea how I did it, I will probably never be able to recreate this effect because I was just clicking buttons, but I’m really happy with it.

I reluctantly left the wall and continued my walk across the Wastelands when I saw a camp in the distance.  As I got closer I noticed a figure sitting by the fire and before long the familiar guitar of none other than SL musician Gypsy Quixote.

Gypsy

For those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning you may remember me mentioning Gypsy in the past.  I first met him at Burn2 last year, then again at SL9B, and a couple of times in between.  It’s really strange, though I used to follow Gypsy on Twitter back when I tweeted more often, I don’t have him on my friend list in SL.  We don’t seem to travel in the same circles or groups and yet, every few months, I will stumble across him out of nowhere.  I had no idea he lived in Wastelands and he was probably the last person on my mind as I was walking across the desert but there he was.  I took a seat and chatted for a few, mostly just laughing about these bizarre coincidences that keep putting us in each other’s path, and then with a grin I headed out again.

I didn’t send him a friend invite, in fact I think if I did something about Second Life would fundamentally change for me.  I like knowing that at anytime, anywhere on the grid, I might see a guitar playing Gypsy when I least expect it.  Random chance might not seem like continuity, but I’m starting to believe that it is the common thread that weaves my virtual life into the quilt I’ve come to love.

I should have warned you, I mixed metaphors, badly.  Let’s just call it part of my charm.

With Love Hunt Items are 10L each:
Hat: KAZAKH cap -Wool black with Pins [sYs]
Skin: Roza Basic -Europa – With ❤ Glam Affair
Face and Body Piercings: Fire In The Water Prt. 1 and Prt. 2 – Midnight- .HoD.
Dress: DN: With Love 2012 – Dress Ducknipple
Leg Tattoo :[P]:-Haila Tattoo [P] ://Complex-Full Dot 50 [Plastik]
Leg Tinting: :[P]:-Demon Fades- S-Mulberri [Plastik]
Eyes: VaeColl.-Remnant [Plastik]

Poses: Adorkable Advent Calendar Gifts
Boots (not part of the hunt) MIEL Far Boots

Location:  The Wastelands

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Wastelands/134/152/72

The Tower by Rebeca Bashly

 

I first read about The Tower by Rebeca Bashly on the LEA blog  and in all honesty, I didn’t know what it was. The description is pretty vague.

Tight lipped as to what the installation is about, and setting up an entire SIM in under 24 hours, Rebeca explained, that ‘The Tower’ is symbolic of restrictive areas, of closed minds, of self limitations and the like, as in kids fables.

I added it to my list of places to possibly visit if I get the chance, as I do most of the LEA builds, but it was only when I saw the pictures on Honour McMillians blog  that I became really intrigued. Honour’s photos showed stark concrete walls with figures of the female form which immediately appealed to my love of eerie sensuality, but even the always eloquent writer didn’t really explain what The Tower was, just her reaction to it. Perplexed by this mystery I had to investigate for myself.

I Crawled For You

As I used the flowers to teleport from room to room, standing there myself surrounded by concrete and in awe of the disturbingly beautiful figures I realized why neither the creator nor Honour could really describe this. I can’t either. If anything, I guess I could tell you this is the build that made me speechless.  Well, nearly speechless anyway, I am afterall writing this.
I suspect The Tower is no one thing, that we all see and experience something different as we move through it. I could learn a lesson from Rebeca in this, a lesson that Whiskey recently talked about on the Single Frame Story blog.  It’s not always necessary to explain to people what they are seeing, to tell them the story. Sometimes we can just let them see it for themselves. That’s counter intuitive for me because I love to write, to interact with people, and I’m not yet confident that my images really do that. It feels sort of one sided and I have this belief that the words make it more conversational or collaborative. Clearly I’ve been wrong about that, I know that now, and yet it didn’t really keep me from babbling did it? Ah, progress, she’s slow sometimes.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Rebeca Bashly’s The Tower is only available for the month of December so I suggest you go visit as soon as possible and find out what it says to you.

http://slurl.com/secondlife/LEA6/137/123/21

It’s always a tricky balance when photographing someone’s work. Surely they have an image in mind of how it should look, the lighting, the colors. I’ve taken some creative license with the images I’m posting here, from tweaking the shadows and lighting in SL to get the mood I was feeling, all the way to a layered look. I hope I’ve still done Rebeca’s work justice while using her build to express myself through my images. I have a couple more but they are a little less safe for work so I’ve put them behind the cut. Just click below for the rest of the pictures.

Continue reading

Visiting the Warbugs with Skulprit Vehicles from Unhinged

We recently got word that Unhinged raised enough for Eku to schedule and receive her surgery. I’m so moved by everyone who participated; from DJ’s to creators, all the SL residents who stopped by to shop or donate, to the countless hours put in by the organizers. Sometimes I’m so proud of my fellow SL residents, of the connections we make, of the way we support each other. Unhinged is just one of the many ways that continuously proves that Second Life is so much more than just a game or virtual world. I don’t know what it is, and the debate has been had countless times by people far better than me, but whatever we call it the news of what we’ve accomplished here this past few weeks brought tears to my eyes.

Our work isn’t over though, far from it. While Eku recovers in hospital and we wait to see how everything turns out, we can keep on fundraising. Although what we accomplished seems miraculous, it in no way paid for the entire surgery, it only got her to the point that she could have it and the balance is still owing. Unhinged is running until December 15thand we’re in the final week here folks so I wanted to toss in one more incentive for you to come down.

Skulprit Mesh Avatar Pinkie

I’m adorable right? I’m wearing one of a set of four mesh avatars by Skulprit that you can get at Unhinged for only 200L each. You can see the whole set on Bouncer’s Blog here.

The hot air balloon I’m standing in above is just one of the Skulprit vehicles in the gatchas for only 50L a play. There are hoverbikes, hot air balloons, hovercars and biplanes. Probably the most fun you’ll have for 50L in SL. Collect the whole set, or buy some for friends as they are transfer and would make great holiday gifts.  These vehicles aren’t just fun, they are easy to use because they are wearable so the controls are just like walking.

Skulprit BiPlane

I decided to test out my flying machines at the Warbugs headquarters.  Now, not to confuse anyone, these Skulprit mesh vehicles are not scripted to interact with the Warbug crafts but it’s one of the funnest places I know to fly and I always meet great people when I’m there so it was a natural leap for me.

If you aren’t familiar with the Warbugs I really recommend a visit.  There are a variety of vehicles to purchase, to win in the lucky chair, as well as demos if you click the windsock.  You can also purchase the Warbug kit so that you can build your own out of anything that you have mod rights too.  There were a couple fellows there when I stopped in and they showed me all the silly things they turned into Warbugs, including a turtle.  I asked if any of them had tried make a flying bathtub, and though they hadn’t I suspect I may see one on the next visit.

I’m terrible at flying Warbugs, somehow within seconds I’m flying upside down and I’ve yet to shoot a single person.  I suspect a big part of the reason is I’m usually laughing too hard.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  However, the group keeps a website with the weekly leader boards that you can see your score if you want to.  http://warbug.net/  I ranked as a sitting duck from an earlier visit this week, which was actually a pretty accurate description.  I don’t know if it’s my eye hand coordination, or the fact that I’m not comfortable using my WASD to move, but I had the same issues when I tried to use a bow as a panther girl.

Cutest Police Ever

There was a dogfight in progress when I arrived so I stayed out of the way up above in my Skulprit police hovercraft watching the show and I realized that Warbugs are as much fun to watch as they are to fly.  This gave me the idea that other groups could maybe use the Warbugs as community events.  I looked into it, and sure enough, if you buy a Warbug windsock and place it on your sim you can have the same dogfights and track rankings within your group.  How fun would that be?  If you buy the kits, you could even make your own sim specific Warbugs and it would be a great activity for any community or group looking to do something together.  I could even see this as an OOC event on a roleplay sim.  They call these secondary locations Combat Zones and there is a list of them here http://warbug.net/combatzones.html.

You have one week left to visit Unhinged to pick up these Skulprit avatars and vehicles, don’t forget to stop by the other vendors and gatchas while you are there, and it’s looking like we’re going to have a wrap up party on December 15th with DJ’s again.

Warbugs is open all the time so be sure to check them out if you are looking for a new activity.  I’ve found everyone I’ve run into there to be really friendly with just the right dose of silly thrown in.

Credits:

Skulprit Mesh Avatar Pinkipoo (one of 4 available for 200L at Unhinged)

Skulprit HotBalloon Totoro (one of 10 available for 50L per play in the Gatchas at Unhinged)

Skulprit BiPlane Rising Sun (one of 7 available for 50L per play in the Gatchas at Unhinged)

Skulprit Hovercar PoPo (one of 10 available for 50L per play in the Gatchas at Unhinged)

Unhinged Until December 15th

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Port%20Seraphine/205/124/28

Warbugs Headquarters

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Black%20Forest/174/61/21

Wicked Ride

Let’s just get this out of the way off the top.  I’m not happy with these pictures.  They’ve been sitting on my desktop for days as I purse my lips and glare at them.  It’s not just the graphics problems, which I’ll get to in a bit, but this set didn’t turn out how I imagined it would.  Sometimes I wish I was a magician and could pull a chain of handkerchiefs out of my ear, and on them would be the images I see in my head.

Last week DJ Mabb played some Melody Gardot during her set at Unhinged and I’ve been on a smoky blues jazzy kick ever since.  I was deep in that headspace when I saw the new release from ColdLogic  included this amazing mesh pencil skirt.  Love, love pencil skirts but I’ve never been able to make them work for me until now.  This one fit like a glove.  A concept was slowly taking shape when I read that this Luna’s color challenge this week was Cotton Candy  and I immediately remembered my favorite pink boots from Gos that I can never have enough opportunities to wear.  With Melody streaming in my ear, feeling good in my skirt and boots I set about framing the perfect smoky sultry shot.  Some thirty pictures later…

My Picture Is Borked

Not bad.  It probably doesn’t do the skirt as much justice as I really should, and it would be a hard sell to say this shot screams cotton candy pink, but over all the vibe is really close to what I was going for.  Wait a second.  What the heck is that on the back wall?  Those green swirly lines.  You see them?  I didn’t see them when I was taking it, they only appeared on the picture.  When I tried to lighten up this shot a bit so you could see the skirt better, the green swirls just leapt off the screen so I went back to the original coloring but I know they are there and it’s bugging me to no end.

Annoyed, but undaunted, I chose another from the dozens I had saved.  This time brighter and a different angle.  I’m on the fence about the composition and expanse of empty space on this one.  It’s either brilliant or really, really bad.  People make composition sound so easy “Oh, just divide your image into thirds”.  Pfft.  In fact, pfft two times.  That’s like telling someone driving  is easy, just put your foot on the gas.

Worrisome Heart

Originally I was planning to fill this skybox with plants, artwork and accessories I’d picked up from the Unhinged Gatcha Fair but when I rezzed it empty I liked how it felt.  It worked for this set.  When I showed the test shot to a friend we had this great conversation where he asked me if she was coming or going.  I love that, I love creating pictures that make people think.  I love the fact that even I don’t know what she’s doing.  It could be her first night in a new apartment; her stuff hasn’t arrived yet, so she builds a fire, pours a glass of wine and wraps her arms around herself as she makes plans for her new life. Then again, maybe she’s leaving.   Maybe the movers have just left and she is taking one last look around her empty space, savouring the last of the memories before heading out the door.

The door.  What the heck is going on with the door?  What are those lines?!  Grrr.

I really don’t know what’s going on with my graphics.  I hope my card isn’t dying, I hope it’s something I’m doing wrong because then there is a chance I can fix it.

So I sat on these images for a few days trying to decide what to do.  Retake the whole set and hope the problem is resolved?  Trash them?  Believe me, I trash hundreds of pictures a week so it shouldn’t be that hard, but something was keeping me from doing it.  I uploaded them to Flickr but wasn’t sure if I’d blog them or not but in the end you can see I have.

They aren’t perfect.  They aren’t what I was imagining and hoping they would be.  What is though?  I’m certainly not.  I realized that if I stopped focusing on the faults, stopped being so hard on myself, and let the sounds of Melody Gardot take me to another time, another place, a world where this woman’s story was just unfolding then maybe, just maybe it would be a Wicked Ride.

Credits:
Mesh Pencil Skirt: “Bradley Smoke” NEW from coldLogic
Boots: “Desire Bootie Baby Pink” previous hunt gift from [Gos]
Hair: “Jade w/Roots – oasis” from >TRUTH<
Top: “Vamp Corset Top White” from Sn@tch
Skin: “Isla Medium Peach” from *League*
Location: “Stockholm Skybox Unfurnished” from Barnesworth Anubis