Photo Contest Winners: “Flowers”

“April showers bring May flowers” is an old English rhyme, so the theme chosen for the monthly FOCUS photo contest was ‘flowers’. Results of the judges’ decision after more than 20 entries were received follow.

Jacinda Moon’s entry (above) was the judges’ top pick.

Full results of the judges’ were

First Prize: Jacinda Moon

Second Prize (tied): Starr Ghost and Jewel Doune

Third Prize (also tied): Markus Reid and Natali Breda

Honorable Mentions went to Scorp and to Amber

If you’d like to browse the entries and check out the popular votes, just tp into the FOCUS Quadrangle and walk around at leisure. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday or Sunday!

Friday: Monthly Photo Contest!

Some of over 20 images that FOCUS members have submitted this month!!

Starting at 6 pm SLT Grace Loudon will perform to be followed at 7 pm SLT by Wes West — and live music means lots of dancing and socializing! Why not invite that ‘special friend’ who never comes out on Friday nights?

As always, the voting booths are out, so that you can wander around Focus Quadrangle trying to outguess the judges and their choices of First, Second, and Third winners. Yes, the winners of this month’s contest will be announced. We promise!

Or if you want to instead of danciing you can pop into the FAIR Gallery, the FOCUS Art Gallery, or The Exploratorium of Art (just a short tele-hop away!) Fridays are just too good to waste staying home!

Cropping and related things…

Before you crop out parts of a photo, or choose not to do so, why not think it out?

When taking a photo (or drawing or painting): First, decide on an emotion or an idea you’re trying to show: fear, anger, loneliness, balance, variations on a theme, darkness, mystery. Second, identify what part of your image most strongly makes this obvious: A scowl on a face? A misty moutain over a dark lake? Birds soaring free of constraints? Totally dejected and drooping body language? Third, add something unexpected or jarring or off balance so your viewer pays attention through the clutter and distractions of his or her life.

Then, last, chop away at boring things that don’t support your objective. Do you really want a large empty sky? Why have so much foreground separating the viewer from that thing or person you’re focused on? Is all the ‘stuff’ behind the back of that person really needed or does it just make folks wonder: ‘Why’s that all there?’

Think of it this way, would you like to see this?

Or this?

In fairness, if you were in Nice, France, wanted to show how empty and clean your beaches are (photo: Blue Beach), you would not crop the foreground in the first of these two images. You might crop more of the sky (“Same sky as everywhere. So what?”). You might chop that lone person over on the right. (“Is that a woman or man? What is she/he doing?”). You wouldn’t crop the bottom, though. You want your viewer to *notice* the sand!

On the second photo, a bit more ‘artistic’, you want people to look at that bottle and its strange coloring. You chop off a lot of that irrelevant wood thing on the left, leaving just a bit of it. Why? To provide another group of browns to trick the mind into seeing the browns in that bottle and not just the greens.

See? It’s a lot about what you trying to do!

Invisible worlds; unheard sounds!

We think of RL as something ‘real’ and virtual reality as ‘not real but virtual’, but perhaps RL is less real than we imagine. Consider what we see. What an amazingly narrow range of the electromagnetic spectrum! Humans are ingenious creatures, so we create ‘translations’. We can’t see radar reflections, so we turn them into visible images on radar screens.

How much we miss! How little we see!” said one blind man to another!

We can’t hear radio waves, so we have developed machines called ‘radios’ to translate electromagnetic waves (called radio waves) into sounds we can actually hear. (Aside: Teenagers know that adults can’t hear the frequencies they can so they have ingeniously mastered the art of ‘cheating’ by communicating on audios frequencies they can hear, but that their teachers cannot!) A lot of animals can hear all kinds of sounds that humans cannot hear, too!

“Do you hear what I hear, said the night wind to the little lamb?

So, perhaps we shouild remember that we live in a tiny sliver of reality in “real life” and that reality is a lot larger than our narrow world called RL. Oh, by the way, if you want to be cool, compose music for bats, or draw images in infrared or ultraviolet light for the amusement and entertainment of butterflies, birds, and other critters. They might even blog about your work — or make sarcastic comments in audio ranges they know you can’t hear.

How enormous! How tiny!

If you know a pathologist like one that I know, he’s constantly taking microphotographs of weird things he sees under his microscope.   “Here’s a particularly photogenic arterial thrombus small enough to fit in a single field!” And doesn’t everyone know someone sharing photos of the moons of Jupiter or solar eclipses?

 Most of us tend to take photos of people (and often ourselves!).  But there are other ranges of photography.  The landscape is one.  If you look at the woodcuts of Hiroshige, there are folks there, but they’re minor decorations in a capture of the magnificence of wild nature. 

“Kanbara Evening Snow” — Utagawa Hiroshige (1833)

And there are still life images like this one:

Fly agaric, more properly called ‘Amanita muscaria

A part of photography is slowing down, carefully observing, and capturing some feeling or memorable aspect of our life.  (By the way, never eat one of these mushrooms; google it if you’re curious about fly agaric mushrooms!)   The world is filled with fascinating objects worthy of capturing in a camera – or if you’re skilled, with paints or pencils. 

Capture what?  Try concrete.  As an exercise, take 15 photos of concrete, and you may be amazed at how varied they can be!  Or patterns of foliage.  Or of beer bottles.  Or of clouds. 

It’s a big world.  Humans are just a tiny (though important part) of the universe.  Free yourself.  Look around.  Enjoy!  

Ruminations regards color…

We take color for granted.  Though we can distinguish an estimated 1,000,000 colors, most human societies recognize less than 11 of them in everyday usage.  Those intimately involved in jobs that require attention to color – artists, designers, photographers, and so on – have names for more than the basics.  Carnelian, bisque, smalt, amaranth, celadon, and viridian are just a few.  But here, other problems crop up. 

Do these English language words have equivalents in other languages?  Do two people talking about ‘celadon’ have the same thing in mind?  If not, how far apart are they?  And when and why does it matter if not?  There are ‘systems’ such as the Pantone Matching System (PMS) but don’t try to tell your mother-in-law that you painted your living room in Pantone 19-4052 ©. 

Even telling her that you read this may not impress her: “It instills calm, confidence, and connection.  This enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation upon which we want to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”  She’ll most likely respond: “Yes, dear, but what color is it?”

Here a smart aleck might say, “Hex 1D4E89”, and then further dig his own grave by explaining, “In terms of CYMK: 79, 43, 0, 46.  (Don’t try to look up the frequency of this color on any representation of the electromagnetic spectrum; I tried that and got no result back!) Ultimately, words describe things people focus upon intently.  Ask an oncologist about a tumor, and he’ll make distinctions that to the man-in-the-street mean nothing.

So, where does this leave us?  First: Observe colors when doing photography.  Even if you have no name for a color, try to memorize it, compare it to adjacent shades, and note how it changes – pixel by pixel – across an image.   And also, observe your emotional response to a color.  And be sensitive to the fact that a color you consider a symbol of blood (that family we call ‘red’) symbolizes luck, joy, and happiness in Chinese culture. 

Is one “meaning” right and the other wrong?  Probably not.  Just different.

FOCUS Learning Center offers an Intro to Black Dragon class!

For details, contact Wren Carling Parker, FOCUS Director. No registration required. Just show up. However…. per below… be sure to download and print out the following information if you are planning to take this class. It’s really detailed and very helpful and it would be best to fully read it *before* the class!

Let’s look at intensity!

Do you find this photograph captivating?  Unforgettable?  Would you see either of the men a week (or a day) after seeing this photo and say, “Oh, you’re the guy in that amazing photograph!” Nope.

So what does this have to do with selfies?  Photography and art need to be intense to get attention in a world awash with images.  It doesn’t take long for viewers’ eyes to pass over one more of thousands of selfies – the successor to the infamous ‘grip and grin.’   If you don’t believe this, ask anyone in SL to tell you about any selfie they’ve seen on Flickr.

“Who was it?  Did you find it interesting?  Why do you think they put it on Flickr?  Did it impact you emotionally?  Have you been thinking about it since you saw it?

There’s a more profound question lurking unspoken: ‘Why upload images at all?’  Who cares?” 

Here’s one answer: Change your viewer forever.   Leave such a soul-shaking impression that it stays engraved in a person’s mind.  Such an image need not be vivid, though it might well be. 

Here’s a great image from the FOCUS Exploratorium of Art (artist: Bamboo Barnes). 

You might not recognize the woman if you ran into her somewhere —  but you’d remember this picture – given one additional requirement.  What?  The viewer! The image is meaningless if the receiver of the image doesn’t really see it. He or she needs to slow down, clear their mind of distractions, and let the eye wander.  What are those plants?  What do they represent?  Why the red ones in the back and the dark ones in the front?  What does that look in her eyes mean?  Is this someone who tells what she knows, or is it the picture of someone who keeps secrets?  If the latter, what kinds of secrets?  And why are those colors so eyecatching?  I can’t stop going back and forth from the gold to the orange to the red and back again!  Why?

Some people are not comfortable asking questions that have no clearcut answers.  However, not all questions have final and definitive answers.  Whatever happened to that girl I dated in college?  Is she doing ok?  Will I grow old?  Why didn’t my mother ever tell me what happened to her and dad before they divorced?  We live in a world of uncertainty.

So why not embrace it, much as we did when we got our first job, married, or bought a house (or decided not to buy a home!)  Taking risks is part of life – and doing so opens the door to all kinds of adventures.

And why not also make your photography and art venturesome trips to strange landscapes?  But if you do, do so boldly!

A massive and stunning art show!

Focus is now hosting the April round of the Unity Art Project, founded by Viktor Saviour. It’s well worth your visit! The exhibition area stands beside the new ‘A Thousand Words‘ Cafe. The April theme for the Unity Art Project is ‘Open the Borders’

This traveling expedition of 29 artists promotes Art in Second Life and moves from gallery to gallery and from sim to sim each month. Each artist displays two pictures, both real-world art and digital pictures taken in Second Life. Artists include Bamboo Barnes. Viktor Saviour, AmandaT Tamatzu, Sisi Biedermann, Mareea Farrasco and Michiel Bechir, just to mention a few. In addition, the project showcases special items from Viktor Saviour, Orpheus Paxlapis, Fantasy Illumination, and Искорка Счастья.

Plan on spending some time seeing this! It is big!

It’s not complicated!

You can get a copy of the current April 2022 issue of FOCUS Magazine inworld direct, subscription, at a kiosk, or from an officer. Oh, and you can bug a friend too, of course.

But did you know that you can share FOCUS Magazine with people outside of our virtual world, too? And did you know you can share back issues too? (If you didn’t know you could do that, now you know!)

Just visit and there they are! Current and back issues. Do you want RL friends to read a magazine? Just send them a link. Easy peasy!

If you didn’t realize you could access every issue of FOCUS Magazine online without logging in, don’t let it bother you. It’s a secret! Only you and me and a few people know it. Shhhhhhh.

P.S. Have you ever thought of sharing a link on your social medium of choice? Yep. I know you did. Heh, heh, heh.