SL photographers of VISIONAIRE INSTITUTE have recognized that there is a lack of a common terminology regarding the treatment of an SL photograph. This becomes a difficulty for many who require photographs yet do not have the language to request the type of photo they have in mind. This can lead to problematic situations that could be avoided with the proper common language.
Here we offer the definitions of four broad categories:
RAW UNEDITED PICTURES or UNEDITED SNAPSHOTS
A Raw Unedited photo or Unedited Snapshot (thank you, Deni!) is not a low quality image. It is an image that is not post-processed in any way other than cropping, resizing or adding a watermark. Such a photo allows the small, minor imperfections from the viewers (ie. jaggedness at curved body parts like elbows or the chin). Windlight, picture quality and overall composition is still of significant importance.
NATURAL EDITED PICTURES
We felt that a new category was needed to dispel confusion. We have added the "Naturally Edited" treatment of photos. Naturally Edited photos utilize windlight, thought to composition, and quality levels as in the previous category (Raw Unedited), but now some manipulation and use of image editing software (ie. Adobe Photoshop or Gimp) is permissible to correct SL imperfections or adjust lighting. All tools available through image editing software may be used (ie. dodge, burn, blur, smudge, liquify, lighting adjustments, etc); HOWEVER, all alterations and modifications do not change or distort the SL avatar or objects in any way. The avatar or object would be easily recognizable inworld from the photograph. Simply put: "what you see is what you get."
HEAVILY ENHANCED PICTURES
Heavily Enhanced photos add further treatments. Extra hair, lashes and even background can be added using any image editing software. Often in heavily enhanced photos the avatar may be distorted to fit the mood of the image. It is at the discretion of the photographer how much and what is to be added to the image. It is also possible for a photographer to add certain PS brushes or effects (ie. lens flares, enhanced shadows) not created using the viewer's windlight capabilities. A black and white image will generally be in this category because of the desaturation that must be used. Pile-up images will generally fall into this category or the next one.
ARTISTICALLY PAINTED or MANIPULATED PICTURES
A simple way to recognize an image from this category is by the amount of post-process "painting" or "photo-manipulation" done to enhance the image and its quality. Artistically Painted or Manipulated photos may be considered closer to fine art, are beautifully enhanced, pay great attention to composition, and have perfectly re-textured skin and hair. A lot of time and effort is spent on shadowing, burning, and retouching to blend the avatar in with the environment, and photo-manipulating snapshots that are taken from the Secondlife Viewers (thank you, Toy for adding this comment!). The image conveys an emotion, creates a scene, or hints at the story (or the lack of one, in some) behind the picture. Many of these images may be done in front of a green screen.
Thank You Wren, Nariko And Visionaire Photographers.