Ilyra Chardin is a real life and Second Life artist. In Second Life she expresses herself as a photographer and builder in the virtual world. Ilyra also donates art for sale or auctions to benefit charities and her art work has been featured in the Builders Brewery Relay for Life Art Auction and is currently on sale to benefit Parkinson’s at the Creations for Parkinsons Art Gallery. Ilyra is currently accepting clients and commissions but was able to put aside her busy schedule to answer some questions.
Dean : How did you first get involved with SL photography?
Ilyra : Like any new resident, I learned to point and click using the built-in snapshot feature within a week or two of joining SL. Back then I used to shoot in the same way that I shot in RL. I dabbled with building in SL within my first year as a resident, and as I got better with it, I started making a few of my own textures. When I began to sell my work, I took the product pictures, but I had a strict rule for myself. No enhancements to the product images. I really wanted the consumer to see what they were going to be buying. Hence I often heard, this item looks so much better than the pic.
About a year ago, I joined an online community and people were posting photographic art. I was intrigued. In RL, I had worked with acrylics, decoupage, and collage to enhance furniture or to make a mixed media decorative accent piece. I started experimenting with mixed media digital art.
Dean : Your landscape snapshots are very impressive. In the snapshot titled “Rendezvous” a large moon rises out from the water and in the snapshot titled “Once Upon a Dream” billowing clouds surround a ruined castle. Did you find these backgrounds in Second Life or were these superimposed using post processing? If these snapshots are a result of post effects, could you discuss your process?
Ilyra : Thank you so much. You chose two that are among my favorites. The older of the two that you asked about, Once Upon a Dream, was taken in March of 2015. Using Windlight, I got a great shot of the castle and I loved how the water looked, but I hated the sky. I began by removing the sky, which left the castle and this great water that you can no longer see. I made the sky and thought that it really needed clouds, so I made them along the horizon. I altered the dragon and added him. Then I felt that the sky needed cirrus clouds – the misty clouds behind and above the cumulus clouds on the horizon. The cirrus clouds were airbrushed in. At this point, well, the water needed a mist so that the castle would appear to rise out of the mist with the dragon ascending above the castle. The mist over the water is multi layered and airbrushed. The last part of the process was multi-step, I altered the color and texture, trying to give the piece a dreamlike quality.
The second piece, Rendezvous, was taken in July of 2015. Sometimes when I’m shooting, my shot is a canvas - I plan all of the alterations that I want to do while I am photographing at the location. There was a lot that was done to the original raw shot. The sky is hand painted. The original sky in the shot was mostly dark grey. I added the full moon behind the plants and I added more plants. I painted the center owl’s eyes to bring them out more and added a second owl, matching the color and eyes to the first one. I added the dragonfly in front of the moon and a bird flying up in the sky. I added in tiny blue fireflies and then I finished the piece off with a canvas texture and a border.
Dean : You seem to specialize in rural landscapes. Do you have any favorite SL sims for photography? If so, which sims do you think are the best for landscape photography?
Ilyra : I generally look for SIMs that are uncluttered so that there is enough room surrounding the subject to frame the shot. I look for interesting trees and landscaping. There are new SIMs or SIM redesigns that open quite frequently, and I’m always on the lookout for interesting subject matter. SIMs that I visited multiple times to produce new pieces include: Flux Sur Mer, The Trace, Matoluta Sanctuary, Junk, Frisland, and Checkmate. I also build my own sets, particularly for special events. Animal Farm and The Veldt are examples of this.
Dean : Some snapshots such as “Alpha”, “The Lakehouse” and “Solitude” look as if a texturing filter has been used. Do you use filters to create a “canvass” effect to create a more artistic impression or are filters used to conceal imperfections in the digital images?
Ilyra : That’s an interesting question. Alpha was a multi layered piece and all of the effects were designed to enhance the image. If there are imperfections in any original image, I correct those by hand. I fix trees all the time in my work, because sometimes SL Trees show a paper-like edge. I fix shadows so that there isn’t a gap between the object and the shadow that it is casting. So, no, I don’t use textures to hide imperfections.
Solitude was a very early digital art piece. I am very proud of the concept and composition, but I can see mistakes that I made. I continually strive to improve and hope that I never stop learning. The Lakehouse, was experimentation with a different technique. While I really like the composition, if I were working on that piece today, it would look very different.
More examples of Ilyra's work can be found at the following links.
Art in the Park: Crystal Gardens Estates (165,220,22)