We all take photographs but few of us know how to take the photograph that causes people to stare. A weekly gathering provides virtual world artists, interested individuals, and the curious an opportunity to hone the skills of image/idea capturing. The event lasts a little over an hour, involves scoping out a virtual location, taking multiple “photographs” focused on a specific theme, selecting one for a contest submission at the end of the hour. I have no doubt that it improves the physical world photography skills of attendees. Contestants cannot crop or manipulate photos, the original capture must get the composition, angle, and lighting as the photograph is shot. Of course lighting is easily adjusted within the virtual world viewer instantly making the scene midnight, sunrise, or some other kind of lighting.
Each Monday morning and Wednesday night (accommodating different time zones) participants in the Photohunt Group on Second Life come together at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Afar/176/167/2667. Dave Koi, the host, assigns each attendee a canvas on which to later mount a selected photograph and then gives them the theme for the hunt and a landmark to be used for the photography.
The virtual photographers teleport over to the location of the week and take as many pictures as they can. Some take photos from one spot while others move about. Flying and moving the camera view around provides views that would be impossible to get in the physical world. Virtual environments, unlike physical, allow you to manipulate the lighting in seconds, bringing the scene from midnight to sunrise with a click. Each week the location changes and it is always one that is interesting, artistic, and warrants a future visit.
At the end of the hour all photographers post a selected ONE photo and vote for favorites. Photos that get the most votes and winners get permanent spots in the Photohunt gallery. It is always enlightening to see the interpretations of the theme, I have found that the practice I get in this weekly activity makes me more aware as I take pictures in the physical world. Avatar photographers share their tips and techniques, some of which can be transferred to the physical world. Despite the fact that I can’t fly or zoom my camera lens to any angle and location, Photohunt events have helped me to spend more time on composition and to give more consideration to lighting. People don’t yet stop and stare at my photographs, but the gaze may linger a little more than it used to.