Second Life can be a rather self-absorbed world, as we tinker with our avatars: buying them new outfits, changing shape and skin, giving them new body parts, trying out new ways of standing and walking, and so on.

It’s like playing with dolls.

Doll portrait

We seem to spend a lot of time looking at ourselves. A high proportion of fickr pictures are self-portraits.

And yet there are no working mirrors in Second Life. Those mirrors we have are dead, opaque, staring blankly back at us.

mirror d

If we want bring our mirrors to life, we have to use trickery.

Solitude V, mirror

I started playing around with reflections in the Furillen rooms by accident, when making this picture …

chairs f

It began as an experiment: taking a picture and then uploading it, inserting it into the same frame, and taking another picture. Then I was reminded of the way we can play with mirrors, creating an infinite loop of reflections by holding one mirror behind us and one mirror in front.

mirros wedding

Lots of people do it these days using their phones.

phone reflections

Then, more out curiosity than anything, I started to play around with reflections for whole room scenes.

Furillen - Love of life

Some worked better than others, but it was an interesting way to play around with line and perspective.

Oil and Broken Legs

Then I noticed that visitors were beginning to take an interest in these pictures …

Draped Chairs

… and even to insert their own reflections into them.

So I began to place myself into these pictures more and more, as if I were a trace or shadow.

The absent janitor.

absent janitor a

Some photographers have superimposed themselves into these images to brilliant effect ….


… while others – rather touchingly – placed themselves right next to me.



And so it continues – this ongoing conversation between me and visitors to Furillen.

A dialogue in pictures.

Broken chair room

No longer just playing with dolls, but with mirrors.


trees of Furillen

Trees are a vital part of Furillen’s look.

There is the distinctive double tree line next to the main building …


The lone, twisted tree on the slag heap …

Return of the Tree

The windswept tree bent over the airstream …

At Furillen

The tree on the eastern edge of the sim, which has taken three different forms, from the initial bare tree …

A Tree at Furillen

the rather wonderful Christmas tree …

A friend

and now, the heart-shaped tree that will – soon enough – show signs of spring growth …

new year b

Then there is the tree next to the lake …


The tree facing south, next to the big rock …


There is the tree facing west, next to the railway carts…

We also had a special ‘eco’ Christmas tree, which was a gift from Soyoy …

New light for new times

And finally, a tree that few people seem to notice, in the quarry area …

quarry tree a

With the exception of the tree line, all of these trees are solitary, distinctive, barren.

They suggest that while organic life is certainly possible on this concrete wasteland, it will never grow in abundance.

Reach out

Slim pickings for passing birds.




photography at Furillen

While Furillen wasn’t specifically designed for taking pictures, photography was an important  consideration when I laid things out. This was inevitable, given that this is what I like doing most on the grid.

As I said in another post, Flickr has had a major influence on visitor numbers at Furillen. But numbers aside, it has also created a special atmosphere.

stormy weatherII

It sometimes gets a little bit weird, too.

performing against gloom

With people working hard at pictures, moving around searching for good angles and perspectives, trying out different light settings, there is usually a good vibe.

three a

Close Encounters of the Third Kind @ Furillen

People who go around the grid taking pictures are invariably good to meet: long established in Second Life, curious, and knowledgeable. Being creative and interested in the visual side of the grid, a lot of them also have great avatars.

The Remains  of the Day

Something wicked

Be with me


Kthulha's Awesome Hat

Boo is lost in Bubbles @ Furillen

I also really enjoy seeing bloggers at Furillen. Although they tend to see the sim mainly as a backdrop for whichever clothes or accessories they want to feature, they are always welcome.

No Skies to Lose

The stuff they do is often fun, too.

blogger b

Flickr in Second Life is quite a social space, many of the active people know each other, take pictures of each other, comment on each other’s work and attend each other’s exhibitions. A bit like any real life art scene, I guess.

Quiet Glance

The photography competition was intended to tap into all of this, and I think it has worked. Some awesome pictures have been submitted to the competition group: well over 100 pictures since 1 January 2016.

Entries close today, voting on the first round takes place over the weekend, and the winner will be announced on Sunday. The winning picture will be on show at the sim, while its creator gets to choose the next theme – the next round will begin immediately and runs for a further two weeks.

I won’t be voting myself, but will post some of my personal favourites from this round – all on the theme of ‘solitude’ – in the Picture of the Day slot next week.

Meanwhile, to all who submitted pictures – thank you and good luck.

nothing but concrete

From photographs, the real Furillen looks like an industrial wasteland of rough shingle and grey concrete dust. There are plants, flowers and trees, but even these appear to be from the wrong side of an apocalypse. Just my kind of place …


Although few people pass comment on the ground textures at the Second Life version of Furillen, they are – alongside lighting and geometry – crucial to giving the sim its particular atmosphere and feel. What I did here was quite unusual, although certainly not original.

I went for complete uniformity.

Nothing but concrete, everywhere …

slag heaps 01_009

When designing a sim in Second Life you can set the texture of the ground at four different levels. I have the same setting on every level, using an identical concrete texture everywhere – even on the slag heaps.

The exact texture I use has changed over time. I started with a realistic concrete – very grey – but although this looked fine in some light, there was a repeat to it that looked too obvious, especially on low graphics.


Then, until recently, I opted for a creamier concrete mix, with a grungy tinge to it that was good in most light and graphics settings.

Although some people mistook this for snow – and why not, given that the stuff falls constantly at Furillen – it gave the sim a slight weirdness, an air of unreality, that was difficult to pin down.

When the light settings were changed recently, the subtle repeat in this texture showed through more: it looked stripy.

So I changed the mix. There is now a seamless concrete texture.

surreal land a

To me, in this light, the sim looks more surreal than ever.

grounded b

seeing the light

All Second Life photographers have a thing about light, it transforms what you capture in a more dramatic way than is generally possible in real life photography. For sim designers, too, light matters to how they conceive a build, which ground textures they use, the general atmosphere they want to create.

blizzard a

When I visit a sim the first thing I do is check the light settings the sim builder has used. It enables me to see a place through their eyes. I might then revert to my own settings to take pictures, but sometimes I stick to the intended settings because they were well thought out and work well.

Furillen 1

Two of the best and most reliable SL photographers who specialize in landscape and sim photography and whose work I closely follow – Ziki Questi and Loverdag – make a point of using the intended light settings. As Loverdag explains, it shows off the sim in its ‘correct’ light – and she is especially meticulous in explaining how her pictures have been processed.


Some of the most interesting and original light settings at Second Life sims have been created by Bryn Oh, whose The Gathering provides the latest evidence that she is a truly innovative and original artist who – alongside Cica Ghost – has taken the business of sim design to an entirely new level.

Until recently I was using a variant of one of Bryn’s past windlight settings – Immersiva Grey Dust – at Furillen. Initially I fixed the time of day, but then I created a day cycle of 20 stops. Each cycle lasts 6 hours, and represents a 24 hour period in the real world.

The result was wonderfully moody and dynamic.

Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.

But there were drawbacks too. If you happened to visit the sim at one of the darker moments it could be off-putting. And the clouds were fast moving – a feature of the day cycle in Second Life which seems impossible to fix. It adds drama, but also lag. And it can be less than relaxing.

Seeking balance

Partly with these issues in mind, I switched to a different light setting this week. With January upon us and the days in the real world beginning the lengthen again, I have opted for a blue-ish light, which has an early morning sun casting a faint, white glimmer on the sea.

grounded bb

As usual, I have been asking for feedback from visitors, whether positive or negative. Once I have a better sense of this, I will think about turning this setting into a day cycle.

always dawn

Until then, it’s always dawn at Furillen.