Monday, 16 January 2017

186: Route 66 photo shoot (Deadwool)

I've never understood the relationship that SL clothing designers have with SL fashion bloggers. Somehow it's gone off the rails, at least as near as I can tell. (I've never worked at it.) It's like customers competing to see who can design the best advertisements to sell the most product FOR FREE ... in order to keep the job you do for free, you have to learn Photoshop and a bunch of other computer programs on your own dime. You obligate yourself to produce blog posts on a grueling schedule and constantly have to buy props and poses and filters and whatnot. Hours and hours and HOURS every week on Facebook and Flickr and all kinds of social media platforms. Writing copy and making notes on the SLURL for where the eyelashes came from.  If you're really, really lucky, you'll get an arrangement with a good designer for a bunch of free clothes and stuff that would cost you approximately what it might cost to get yourself a six-pack of beer or a good hamburger to buy for yourself. And yet there are thousands of fashion bloggers who are prepared to work the equivalent of a full-time job to promote a virtual blouse or pair of Capris that only brings in pocket change per copy to the designer and bugger-all to the blogger.
  Don't get me wrong, there are fashion bloggers out there who do amazing work. Astonishingly beautiful images with meaning and power that are well worth looking at, even if I'm never going to buy a pair of virtual Capri pants. You know who they are, the ones at the top; I think they must do it for the love of exercising their creative skills, because it's sure not paying off financially. I've never heard of anyone promoting themselves this kind of job in real life based on a Second Life portfolio, but I suppose it could happen. In the meantime it must be a hellish job to monetize even the most marketable blog stats; 99% of your advertisers will automatically come from SL, and that means you're always self-referential.
  In the past, I've grumbled about how it works, mostly because there seems to be a lot of bullying involved lower down in the hierarchy of blogging and I find it unpleasant. Perhaps I've mellowed. If the people who are doing this blog are having fun and there of their own free will, who am I to argue? So I don't want to change anyone's mind about how fashion blogging should work. I do want to give it a try, though, it looks like fun.
  So here's my fashion blogging manifesto and we'll see if anyone likes the idea. (1) I buy all the items myself, so I can say anything I want to. That being said, I don't see much point in talking about stuff I don't like. (2) It takes me more than a couple of pictures to tell a story in the way that I want (in the same way that you've already realized that I talk too much LOL). (3) I don't feel compelled to do it a lot. (4) Please, do not offer to give me clothes or suggest that I do a piece on your clothes or anything like that. If this works, it will only work because I want to talk about you without prompting.
  The inspiration for the shoot was that my husband Alex Thaub, retired international supermodel, and I bought a skybox from Bartlett & Nielsen that looks like the last gas station on Route 66, because we both liked the design. It sort of called out for a photo shoot, and we thought it called for business suits, and in both our wardrobes that means Deadwool (helmed by Masa Plympton). I can't remember the last time I was as impressed with a designer's work as I was when I got their Dandy business suit; simply put it looked like a real suit that a real person would wear, and it was wrinkled where it would be if a real person was wearing it. All their stuff is at a similar high level of quality and they are the kind of clothes that you find yourself wearing in all kinds of situations. Highly recommended; needless to say, I've never spoken to Masa Plympton about it, so this is my fan letter. ;-)

Alex is wearing:
Skin: David, from Redgrave
Goatee: Aeros
Suit: Deadwool
Shoes: Mesh wingtips from Phunk

Rusty (with glasses) is wearing:
Skin: Cruz, from Redgrave
Beard: Holt Beard from MUSCHI
Hair: NO_CRY from no.match (with an undercut hairbase from Deadwool)
Suit: The Dandy, from Deadwool
Shoes: Klaus, from Deadwool

Monday, 2 January 2017

185: Photo Challenge -- "Mornings"

Alex and I have been having a lot of fun with the photo challenges presented as part of a Facebook group called Snap... Do it!  They present a list of topics, we get inspired and go and start taking photographs to illustrate the theme.
  Last night the moderators published a new list and of course inspiration came thick and fast. I'll be posting my pictures grouped by theme, rather than everything I did in an
evening. We actually worked on a couple of themes last night but this one was the most fun for me, because I enjoy taking chances with not looking good LOL. As usual, I try to use the minimum of poses and get as much mileage as I can out of my AO (the large picture at the top of this post was from my "face emotion" app, which apparently comes with hand positions; I was trying to show myself yawning). One of the most interesting parts for me is to try to find props and/or locations that illustrate the theme.
Subtlety is important! Lighting, composition, concept ... I'm learning more about how to take pictures all the time, and the thematic challenges help. If you're interested, and you're on Facebook, you can apply to join Snap... Do it! and have some fun.
  Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

184: Dinner at the Terrace

Getting a Christmas present for my husband Alex Thaub -- or indeed many people in Second Life -- can be difficult. Fashions move very quickly and generally speaking, if you see something while you're out and about, it's easy and inexpensive to buy. So for someone special, what you generally need to do is provide an experience and not merely an object.
  We've always liked The Terrace Lounge and Grille 
Restaurant, run by our friend Jorden Andrew. Well, part of it is sentimental, since this is where I popped the question way back when. But the larger part of it is that Jorden and his crew behind the scenes have figured out how to give people an experience that is like real life, but takes advantage of everything that is unique about SL.
  Our dinner the other night took place at the "Winter Cottage in the Woods". The basis of this is the dining experience, which takes place in a beautiful little
outdoor pavilion; as always, perfect service by Jorden himself, of a four course meal that I would have been happy to order in real life. (I'm a bit of a foodie, and all I can say is, so is whoever creates these menus.) And after the meal, we spent time exploring the interesting environment that The Terrace folks have created for your amusement. There's a sleigh ride, a skating rink, a bath house, and a beautifully decorated little cottage with ... let's just say with the animations that romantic adults might
expect to find.
  Of course the Winter Cottage is not the only environment they have to offer; there are five or six different dining experiences and a couple of very unusual offerings that include a dude ranch weekend (!) and a place to take the kids on their rez-days. We recommend it highly and you should check out what they have to offer! Use the link above to see their web pages, where you'll get a very good idea of the complete range of experiences; use this 
SLURL to get to the entry point; or contact Jorden Andrew in-world.

Monday, 19 December 2016

183: Testing Alchemy

 Alex Thaub and I have had our troubles over the years with Firestorm -- my friends may have noticed that I tend to crash, crash, crash, when there's a lot of avs crammed into a small space, and Alex suffers from lag all out of proportion to the excellence of his computer equipment and connection. So he talked me into trying a new viewer along with him; Alchemy. You can download it here, if you're curious.
  Of course there are always 
things to tweak and fix and jigger when you install a new viewer; it's taking a while. Most of the problems are just finding ways to make things like the way we knew them, rather than it being impossible.  So far, we're both quite excited at how things are holding up. I decided to take a few pictures and see what, if anything, the differences are. There's a few problems with background items not rezzing up ... we're still tweaking the controls.  In the meantime -- hope you like my antlers! ;-)

Monday, 12 December 2016

182: Merry Christmas from Rusty Redfield and Alex Thaub

181: Behind the scenes of our Christmas card

Alex Thaub and I had some fun last night doing our annual Christmas card at Calas Galadhon. If you're not familiar with it, it's a beautiful photo location that's maintained altruistically for the benefit of photographers, it seems, or just as a place to stroll around and admire the scenery. It's part of the Second Life Destination Guide right now as a place to take winter photographs, so one thing led to another...
  I'll be posting our Christmas card as my next post, but I thought it might amuse you to see what goes through my viewfinder to get there. As you may know, I don't use any kind of Photoshop or image enhancement, rarely use anything except natural lighting, and honestly prefer to not pose people, but just let their AOs provide me with a national motion. Here, of course, we usually posed; if you're doing a two-man Christmas card, you both need to be facing the camera. But behind the
scenes there were a couple of good shots and a couple of silly ones and everything in between. Some of them are marred because I wasn't getting a proper reading of the texture on Alex's new winter coat; c'est la vie.
  We had fun taking the pictures, hope you enjoy looking at them!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

180: Facebook shutdown

I arrived home last night to learn that my Facebook account had been shut down ... because I'm not a real person, apparently.  I cannot reactivate it, so that's it; game over.  Right now if anyone is looking for my photographs, this is where they will be, and I'll be thinking about what else to do.  It's unlikely to involve Facebook, though.
I'd love to put a photograph of how I feel about Facebook at this point but I think a photo of a large steaming pile would violate Blogger's TOS, and I haven't got many outlets left ;-) If anyone has comments or suggestions, I'd love to hear them.