Help:Snapshots/A state of snapshots

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The history of snapshots in Second Life hasn't been well-chronicled. Every Resident vérité takes a picture at one point during their Second Life or another, but until recently, there's been a poor understanding of fundamental "pillars", including how many postcards get sent out, how many snapshots are uploaded to inventory, as well as the finer points of taking beautiful pictures.

Dismissing snapshots as "just for fun" neglects much context: in increasing amounts, the first exposure someone who's not yet part of Second Life may get of our world are Resident-taken snapshots. Especially on sites with a much broader audience like Flickr, the art of fine photography helps communicate our passion for capturing real emotions experienced in our online world.

In addition, taking better snapshots also helps increase your self-confidence. Snapshots require a combination of skills, including precise camera control, knowledge of lateral features (like adjusting the sun to get desired lighting), and frequently, avatar customization. Putting all of them together to get "the perfect shot" is a testament to how "meta" quality snapshotting can be.

Better snapshots also hint at dreams for a lovelier Second Life. Applied post-processing effects are done in absence of the ability to perform the same magic in realtime. But as new features emerge, avid virtual shutterbugs can indulge in them, and build on their repertoire of techniques used to create beauty as they see it! For example, the RenderGlow (more info) feature added in 1.15, and planned to be a more accessible part of the interface, has already captured the imaginations of photogs in search of softer looks.

So where do we stand today? Bert Linden recently began work on regular metrics reports for postcards. For the first quarter of 2007, over 300,000 postcards were sent out. That's substantially more than the almost-269,000 sent during the whole year of 2006! We've seen an enormous surge in postcard sending, much of it prompted by the new Orientation Islands, which feature a postcard station as a basic first step in learning your Second Life. Also, as Resident-run social sites continue to expand, there can be no stopping the sharing!

With so much photographic activity trackable, and much of it not (we don't know how many snapshots you saved to disk), it's clear that more resources prominently be put forth to educate and entertain snapshot enthusiasts, new, old, and everything in-between. By improving our quality in quantity, we gain more of an appreciation for the Grid we live on, and preserve our digital cultures in ways never thought possible before. All of this also challenges preconceived norms: parallel to machinima being taken seriously, are Second Life snapshots merely computer screenshots, or a new form of art? Hindsight will make us wiser, as it tends to do.

In the present, as the old adage goes, "practice makes perfect", and what's important is you're enjoying yourself as you "capture the moments". The resources below are intended to aid in rewarding your continued self-discovery.

Enjoy your photographic memories!

-Torley Linden, 2007-04-26