Cajsa Lilliehook covers the best in virtual world screenshot art and digital painting
Some of my favorite photographers are those who work with an unstudied spontaneity. Their pictures look like some street photographer has captured life at the business of living. They seem unposed and unconsidered, as though the photographer is capturing a singular moment in time–a moment lost in an instant. Panteleimon is that kind of photographer.
Take “Crucial Velocity” above. In a second, the light will no longer catch the windshield, the motorcycle will no longer be at that angle, and the sun dogs will dissipate along with the ice crystals in the air. There is only this moment, a moment so ephemeral without the camera to capture it, it would remain unknown, unseen, and un-experienced. In truth, would that moment exist without the photographer to capture it? Yes, without the photographer, there would still be the rider, the sun, and the road, but there would not be this moment where they come together in this synchronicity of light and speed.
To understand more about Panteleimon’s process, please read on.
How would you describe your work? Do you see any RL influences on your work?
Describing my work is probably not easy, as it very much varies from picture to picture, if I had to choose a word, I guess it would be ‘eclectic’ as my style and themes are very much all over the place, ranging from sci-fi, fantasy, landscapes, to seemingly simple avatar profiles, all done in varying ways, photorealistic, grunge, black and white, colorful, muted, each pic is different with its own mood and feel. I enjoy diversity.
SL photography for me is very much experimentation and playing around in Photoshop for relaxation, so I don’t really have any set formula, and I actually prefer not to, because that leads to stagnation. I don’t really have RL influences in my work, though I do occasionally try to give some of my pictures an RL feel or quality to them.
What do you think makes a good photo?
Oh, there are so many things, where would I start… theme, mood, style, balance, composition, technique, vision, story, dynamics, if you have at least a few of these combined in a balanced way, you have a good image, but I don’t really concentrate on any of that, it just comes on its own, I just play around till it looks right to me, or as close to right as I can manage, it’s a process more of feel, then using guidelines.
My knowledge of real art and photography is very limited, so I just go by my own aesthetics as to what looks and feels right to me. It also very much depends on the audience, what may appeal to me or you, may not be another’s cup of tea, so your audience is also a factor in the appeal of a certain piece of work.
What is your process in setting up a photo? How would you divide your time in pre-shoot, shooting photos, post-processing? How many shots do you take to get "the one" - on average?
Unfortunately, my PC is way under spec for how heavy SL has become, which frustrates my in-world ability to take pics of a quality I’d like, so I improvise. I hardly ever do set pieces in-world, most of my photos are taken spur of the moment, zero pre-shoot time, something will catch my attention and I’ll snap away…
I may take a lot of pics doing that, 10 -30 with varying angles, Windlights, etc, and pick out the one later that I like best. Because SL slows to a grind for me once I raise my graphic settings, this may take up to a half hour or more of taking different snaps of my subject.
Once I have a final image, things are way less complicated for me once in PhotoShop, there I can relax, put on some music, and play with my image, building and forming it into whatever it chooses to be, shaping, forming, experimenting, building, because that’s exactly what it feels like, a glob of clay which you manipulate into a desired finished shape. Most of my pics on average will take me from 30-60 minutes… usually the ones that take more time, I do in bits, add some stuff, close them, come back the next day, fresh, add more stuff, it sometimes really helps to take a second look at a later time, then finish off in one session, at least for me.
One thing I want to stress regarding the way my pics “evolve unto themselves”... originally, starting out, I would have an image in my head of what I wanted to capture in SL, and try to do that. And it never really worked for me, the final result was always different from what I had envisaged in my mind’s eye… so I just stopped . I let the pics take their own course, free of preconceived notions from myself of how they should look, and just let them grow on their own with my guiding hand ..it may sound weird to some, and familiar to others, but it truly works for me, and may explain why I don’t really have a “style” like some, and my images are kind of all over the place.
People often say photographers/artists "paint with light" but, to me, it feels like you paint with shadow...how do you think about the interplay of light and shadow in your work?
Yes, there can be no light without dark, you need the contrasts to appreciate the light. SL snaps by default are very bright, bubbly and cartoonish, very “flat” as we all know, I had to teach myself to capture darker images, using Windlights and PhotoShop to tone things down, add depth, contrast. It’s something I’ve been playing a lot with lately, adding and taking away light and dark, making an image pop or recede, rebalancing it. I like to concentrate on light and shadow to add more dimension, to add depth, feeling, mood and atmosphere.
What are a few of your favorite photos (of your work), why are they favorites?
I was visiting Serene Footman’s Khodovarika sim, just panning my camera around, when I came across a lady sitting in a boat, what she was wearing and the situation instantly grabbed my attention, so I started snapping, but just after me taking a few snaps, she vanished, I didn’t even have an opportunity to ask who she is, and maybe show her the pics, so if she ever sees this picture and recognizes herself in it, I’d love to thank her… it wasn’t till later, looking at what I captured that the beauty and simplicity of the picture struck me, so I added a few finishing touches, the red balloon, some birds, water reflections, and kept it centered and symmetrical, something I rarely do, because it just seem to fit that way, and that’s how “Isolde’s Remorse” came to be, by far one of my more “poetic” pics.
Similarly, some other faves of mine, for what I term having a “poetic quality“ to them are “Like Dreaming of Angels” which again was just a play shot of the back of my girl Magissa Denver, but I loved how it looked, and also an older pic , still in prim avi days which I really love, and that we had actually planned is “The Catch.”
These are some examples of my work, which I feel have mood and story behind them, often with a dreamy, poetic feel, and are capable of evoking some emotion in the viewer. They are mostly simple shots, but I prefer simplicity, and its often harder to achieve then one may imagine.
Do you do art in RL as well? is there any symbiosis between RL and SL artistically? Would you like to share a picture of RL art?
No, unfortunately I don’t do any RL art, other then the constant doodling I do if I find myself with a pen in my hand. Actually, during my school years I would draw a lot using various mediums, and I did always enjoy expressing myself in this way, I still do some RL photography, and use to enjoy water colors, just nothing i would ever consider myself as very good at. One example of me trying to teach myself watercolor techniques is actually on my Flickr stream [above].
What would you like to share about your Second and First lives? Do you have any favorite self-portraits?
I’m pretty much the same person in RL as in SL, your regular next door type of guy, pretty low key, but those that know me in either world will attest I’m very open, friendly, and approachable, have and enjoy a good sense of humor, and enjoy the social as well as the artistic interaction of SL. As for self portraits, “After…” is one of my favorites of myself from SL. And though not one much for RL selfies, there is a half profile of me in my stream, done a real long time ago as part of a tagging challenge, with bonus RL facts and a lot of scribbling all over my face in the form of notes.
There’s so much to see and enjoy on Panteleimon’s Flickr stream, I hope you spend some time wading through the stream, enjoying how he paints with light and with shadow.
Cajsa Lilliehook joined Second Life in 2007 and has been enjoying the art of SL ever since. Disliking the common practice of critiquing poor photos, she decided to highlight good ones and explain why they work in hopes of inspiring with praise instead of criticism. Follow Cajsa on Flickr, on Twitter or on her blog.