Saturday, November 1, 2014

Whitburn Blackburn's Winning Interview With LUMIPro!

***Walks slowly into the room and switches on the lights and quietly walks over to the desk having a seat*** 

''Oh hello everyone! Boy, do I have a treat for all of you today! Do you remember the customer survey you all were awesome enough to fill out for us? Well as you might also remember we held a contest where we picked a random winner to do an interview with yours truly! Well that winner was the one and only Whitburn Blackburn, and I have the interview right here! 

***Waves everyone over excitedly to get their copy.***

Were you excited to win the contest and get an interview with LUMIPro? 

Whit: Of course! I almost never win anything so it was a complete surprise but a lovely one.

How did you hear about and get started in Second Life? 

Whit: It’s a long time ago now, nearly seven years, I read about it first in a technical magazine and a friend who had been on Second Life for a while introduced and guided me. This was really a great help as I didn’t have to go through all the ‘newbie’ pitfalls. Sadly he hasn’t been on Second Life for years now.

How did you get started in fashion blogging? 

Whit: I have always read other peoples’ blogs and thought many times about blogging myself. I had been away from Second Life for an extended period (I won’t go into the reasons here!), but couldn’t stay away so came back around Christmas last year. There seemed to be a lot of exciting new technology like Fitmesh and tattoo cosmetics layers and mesh was a lot more mature than when I left so I decided to start up my own blog to try and share my enthusiasm for the things I was finding and buying. I never expected it to be as successful as it has been.

What inspires you to blog?
Whit: Well, obviously fashion first and foremost. I am fortunate in that I can afford to spend a little on SL each month, most of which goes into buying clothing and shoes, but also allows me to get involved in the latest avatar enhancements and I am very into mesh avatar components right now, something I blog about regularly. I am fascinated too by the psychology of virtual worlds and my musings have inspired more than a few posts. I have also been humbled by the comments of friends and readers who follow and have made positive comments about my blog which really inspires me to continue.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in starting a blog?

Whit: Just do it! There is no time like the present. I waited far too long before I was confident enough to start a blog, and it is a lot easier than I would ever have expected. If you have the enthusiasm and a subject or subjects you want to blog about, go for it and you will soon find out if your blog is successful. I went from less than 100 ‘reads’ the first month, to 200 the second, then 400, then over 1000 and so on.

I see from your blog that you like things like mesh heads, don’t worry I am a mesh addict myself, What developments would you like to see in Second Life fashion?

Whit: I just love the mesh avatar enhancements, in fact I have to admit it - I am an addict too! I think the concern that with mesh heads we would all end up looking the same is overstated. There are now a number of mesh heads available and with the options to modify them, plus makeup and hair, people still can maintain individuality. However mesh bodies and clothing still need improvement. I maybe notice it more as I am putting on new clothing almost every day for blogging purposes, but the alpha systems on mesh bodies are not perfect, nor am I convinced they are the way to go. Fitmesh tends to be better and not need as much attention to alphas plus it clings better when your avatar moves. Sometimes however I have to give up and revert to the system body and the designer supplied alpha to get a useable photo or worse, have to spend ages on Photoshop trying to correct glitches in photos I can’t repeat easily. So I would like to see improvements in fashion and mesh technology. I have no concerns over fashion design, the Second Life designers are so varied and so good that SL fashion is in good hands!

How did you get started in Photography in Second Life?
Whit: I had only ever taken snapshots, and really had no clue about SL photography, I’d never even tried Windlight settings, until I started my blog. Then Pandora’s box was open!

What inspires you to take photos, or why do you take photos?

Whit: My inspiration comes from all the lovely photos I have seen on other blogs over the years. I realised the standard is very high which meant if I was going to blog I had to learn how to at least take adequate photos. The learning process has been an inspiration in itself and now taking photos has become somehow separate from the blog as I now take photos for their own sake, rather than simply to illustrate some item of fashion or the like. This has led me to include pure photography posts in my blog with photos of beautiful or interesting Second Life places.

What advice would you give to those interested in photography?

Whit: I don’t feel qualified really to advise people on photography, I am still just a learner. However from my own experiences I would suggest firstly learning how to use the camera and save your photos externally to Second Life so you can enhance them. There are good tutorials out there, make use of them. I save my photos to Flickr and use the built in photo editor to do simple stuff like cropping or adding my name to photos. For the more complex stuff I have a copy of Photoshop CS2 (available as a free download) and save the photos to my hard drive.However, the most important thing in my opinion is to get the photo right at the point of pressing the shutter, the less you have to do afterwards the better! Secondly, learn how to use Windlight, it is a wonderful tool. I have been using other peoples’ presets for a while but have recently started creating my own just for fun.

Do you have any people that inspire you?
Whit: Yes of course! There are many bloggers, too numerous to mention, blogging both Second Life and Real Life fashion who I find inspiring because of their knowledge and taste. Then there are the Second Life photographers I admire, people like Strawberry Singh and PeepSideshow Darkward, both LUMIPro users incidentally, and the others whose work I see in various Flickr groups.

Speaking of LUMIPro...

You haven’t had LUMIPro that long? what made you decide to take the plunge and buy?

Whit: Well, it’s simple really, one word in fact - lighting. I soon realised that while setting my sun position to midday gave me a reasonable result, it was boring and not perfect. I also use a photo studio but while that is great for certain types of shot, there are times you need something more flexible that you can use anywhere. Then when I started to play with Windlight I found there were many settings I could not use as they weren’t bright enough. That was when I started searching for a way to provide the lighting I needed. A bit of research showed LUMIPro to be the answer and as soon as I tried the demo I was sold. The fact that it provides much more than just that is of course a bonus

Do you feel LUMIPro has enhanced your Second Life photography?

Whit: Without a doubt. I’d go further than that and say it has revolutionised my Second Life photography and I couldn’t be without it! I now have three methods I use. The first is simply the use of the camera and windlight for landscape photography, the second is the use of a photo studio for objects like shoes where they can be placed as required to show off the features and have a plain background, and thirdly for everything else involving avatar photography, and that is most of my fashion shots, LUMIPro is essential.

I see that you have started doing photography for more than just commercial photography. Do you feel differently about your personal photography versus your blogging photography? Do you use LUMIPro different for each?
Whit: I don’t feel radically differently about both, in fact a lot of what start as personal photos subsequently end up in my blog. However when photographing clothing for my blog my concern is to get the best photo I can which also shows off the clothing item to best advantage. With personal photos I am more concerned with the final effect and (this sounds pretentious but it is not intended to be!) how artistic it is. It is a case of different emphasis only, though often the two are not mutually exclusive. As to the use of LUMIPro, I am experimenting all the time and perhaps I experiment more wildly with personal photos, but that is really the only possible difference.

Do you have a favorite LUMIPro feature? What is it and why?

Whit: Yes. The click to hide button! The way you can have the close up lights display for setting up, then make them disappear with a single click, though still showing the lighting effects, while you take the photo is just awesome. If I can have another favourite feature it would be the sliders on the latest version, so much easier and intuitive to use than the menus in the previous version.

What would you like to see in future releases of LUMIPro?

Whit: This is a difficult one as I am so happy with it as it is. Perhaps an additional couple of ball lights would allow more flexibility but might add too much complication?

Would you recommend LUMIPro to others?
Whit: Definitely! I absolutely love the product and the latest V3.4 release is just great.

So just because we all curious did you enjoy the prize money?

Whit: But of course! I spent it all on photography related items, including a Pose & Animation System to allow me to create my own poses and modify others, plus poses and props from various suppliers. Did I mention I’m also a pose addict………..?

It is okay I have all sorts of things I am addicted to as well! I had a wonderful time getting to know you! I look forward to getting to know you more.

Whit: Thank you very much Sammie for giving me this enjoyable opportunity to meet you and talk about what is in effect my new obsession with photography, my blog and of course the wonderful LUMIPro!

''Well there you have it! Whit was an amazing person to get to know, and it all started because of a survey. She has a wonderful blog that I know everyone will love! I know if she keeps going and of course keeps using LUMIPro we will see great things from her! Be sure you check her out."

Whit's Fashion Blog - 'SLikely
Find Whit On Flickr

***Slowly stands and quietly pushes the chair back under the desk and adjusts the camera case just right. Walking slowly to the door and turning back to smile.***

"Oh by the way... Happy Shooting!"

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