Photo Lighting in Windlight


In virtual photography as in real life photography, lighting is everything. To create stunning fashion photos in Second Life, you need to work the lighting.

Windlight allows great flexibility for adjusting the environment settings to control the appearance of the world, and the avatars who inhabit it. Caliah Lyon created some great settings which effectively eliminate the annoying shadows that appear in the default Windlight settings (see credits), especially around the nose and cheekbones of avatars. As the photo below shows, the settings produce a beautifully smooth and clean image.  

Image using Caliah Lyon's environment settings with no additional lighting

Image using Caliah Lyon's environment settings with no additional lighting.

While effective, the settings also tend to even out the lighting, generating a relatively flat image. For more visual interest, you need to use local light sources to give the image more dimension and contrast. Working with the AMS PhotoStage lighting system, I adjusted the colour and positioning of three light sources to enhance the image.The first image below uses a cool front light positioned at floor level in combination with two warm side lights.

Settings enhanced with cool front light and warm side lighting.

Settings enhanced with cool front light and warm side lighting.


You can see how the additional lighting lifts the model off the backdrop by giving more definition and dimension to her face and clothing. In the next photo, I shifted the colour of the front light to a soft white, while keeping both side lights warm.

Same settings with soft white front light and warm side lighting.

Same settings with soft white front light and warm side lighting.

For the final shot, I used a cool light on the right side, with a warm on the left, and the soft white light in front.

Soft front light with warm and cool side lighting.

Soft front light with warm and cool side lighting.

All these photos are posted directly as taken in Second Life, with no photoshopping (apart from cropping and resizing for posting to the web). The final shot below shows the placement and colours of the light sources on the PhotoStage, together with the yellow/black gaze point (used to control the direction the model’s eyes are looking).

Light set up for photograph 4 above.

Light set up for photograph 4 above.

The AMS PhotoStage provides precision control of the postioning and colours of six independent light sources using your choice of HUD, menu or chat commands. The highly sophisticated and unique lighting system allows you to frame your subject and maintain the camera’s position while adjusting the lights to achieve an optimum lighting. Visit the AMS Demo Site to try out the PhotoStage and, for on-location shooting, PhotoLite.


Caliah Lyon’s Windlight Settings:

Use the Environment Editor (World > Envrionment Settings > Environment Editor) to adjust the following settings:

The Atmosphere Tab:

Blue Horizon: R: 0.12, G: 0.12, B: 0.16, I: 0.16
Haze Horizon: 0.09
Blue Density: R: 0.32, G: 0.59, B: 1.00, I: 1:00
Haze Density: 0.65
Density Multiplier: 0.18
Distance Multiplier: 2.0
Max Altitude: 188

The Lighting Tab:

Sun/Moon Color: R, G, B and I at 0.86
Sun/Moon Position: 0.000
Ambient: R: 0.67, G: 0.64, B: 0.63, I: 0.67 (raise I up to 0.70 for outdoor settings)
East Angle: 0.16
Sun Glow: Focus: 0.10 Size 1.75
Scene Gamma: 1.08-1.15
Star Brightness: 0.00

The Clouds Tab:
Cloud Coverage: 0.13
(other setting in cloud tab can stay the way they are)

Save this under a “New” preset.


UK Rock N Rolla Jacket in Black from Muism

Dita Shirt in Red from LBD

Lea Pants in Black from LBD

Hydra Shoes in Black from Tesla


Sunkissed 28 from LionSkins


Writer in Burgundy from Detour


Ice Eyes in Oceanblue from LBD


Luth Innocence 02 from Reel Expression

5 thoughts on “Photo Lighting in Windlight

  1. Serenity, thank you for this! Finally, now I can use lighting effectively!
    Now that you’ve explained the set up, I know what to do to get that extra layer of depth into my photographs.
    Combined with the ease of use of the AMS PhotoStage, which for me is the best photo studio I have ever used, these lighting tips are so simple to apply.
    Thanks for an elegant solution to the “flat look” picture problem and a wonderful effective product with the PhotoStage.

  2. Thanks, Thalia, for the kind words. One of our aims in designing PhotoStage was to create an intuitive, easy to use system for working with prim lighting. Once you learn how to rez (create) the lights and adjust their positions, colours and (if desired) parameters, the process of lighting your subject allows you to focus on creativity.

    And thanks for the link to RaulCrimson’s tutorial Mforiero. In my experience, high quality photography in Second Life often requires a combination of prim lighting, windlight settings and photoshopping.

  3. Pingback: Photo Studio vs Rez-a-Prim « Serenity Mercier

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