Depth of Field Tutorial

There are may ways to make beautiful photos in Second Life. I am by no means an expert in ANY of them. I WILL, however, show you something I have been playing with lately, because it makes a really big difference and adds some really cool dimension to photos. (Note: I use the latest version of Firestorm. This should be pretty similar or identical on the LL official viewer and Phoenix, but it’s different in Exodus and Niran’s. The concepts translate, just not all the menus and commands will be the same.)

The Depth Of Field feature allows you to selectively focus on things. Basically, you can get that cool effect where only certain parts of your photo are in focus. You achieve this by going to Preferences (ctrl+P) and enabling Lighting and Shadows (your graphics card has to support this feature), and then also enabling Depth of Field.

There is a tab in Graphics specifically for Depth of Field.

VERY VERY basically (I am NOT a graphics or computer expert), the different settings pretty much let you decide how much and what kind of blur you want in the photo. Play with these sliders to get the look you want. I’ll give you an idea what to expect when you move the sliders:

Camera F number: This controls the “aperture” of your lens. Higher number = less blur.
Camera Focal Length: The length of your lens, or how far away you’re virtually zooming in from (hard to explain). Higher number = more blur.
Camera FOV Degs: Your Field of View. Again, I can’t properly explain the whys and hows of this (sick of me yet?). Higher number = more blur.
Camera Aspect Ratio: I have no clue how this related to DOF, to be honest. Moving the slider does nothing in my display. *shrugs*
DOF Focus Transition Time: More for machinima, this sets how long the transition between areas of focus should be (say, I Alt+click on the foreground, then Alt + click on the background) this decides how long it will take for focus to shift. For still photography, keep this all the way down to minimize wait time.
DOF Rendering Quality: Kind of self explanatory, no? Higher number = better effect quality all around.

How do I decide what’s in focus on my screen?

Hold down Alt and click on the area of the screen you’d like to have in focus.
Alt+ click and drag (or use mouse scroll wheel) = zoom
Ctrl+Alt+click and drag = tilt
Ctrl+Alt+shift+click and drag = re-position your subject in the frame.

You can also use Ctrl+0 (zero) and Ctrl+ 8 to change lenses, which allows you to achieve different zoom/closeup effects. Ctrl+9 returns your camera view to default.

Selective focus adds depth to photos. Example (these shots are 100% unedited):


Weirdness and glitches:

Ok, last thing and then I’ll stop boring you. When I have tried to use DOF in the past, I would get these crazy jagged lines across my screen. Here are some screen shots, to show you what I mean.

Without DOF enabled:

With DOF Enabled:

Zoomed out, with DOF enabled:

See it? I tried every viewer I could get my hands on, and had the same thing on every single one. Due to this, I sort of ruled out ever using DOF with my current graphics setup, which was very sad.

I actually manually blurred my backgrounds or used blur filters in photoshop to achieve a DOF look for a while, and on certain photos. I quickly got tired of how long it took, so I decided to try again, and maybe just crop the jagged area out. When I saved the photo to my computer (I use the largest size possible for my computer, 6016×3538) the lines were NOT THERE! I mean, I get these other weird lines but I’m used to those and they’re easy to fix. The glitchy, jagged lines were not there, though, and I was SO excited!

While editing the photo, I was zoomed in really close and found a few areas with minor jagged lines:

Those were pretty easy to fix in photo shop without much effort.

SO, do NOT let the lines that may appear on your screen keep you from trying DOF. At least on my own computer, They’re not as bad in the saved snapshot as they are in my UI.

My finished photo, courtesy of DOF (click to view larger):

All items worn in this post are credited in previous posts. Poses are Marukin. Location is T Town.

I also JUST learned that Luna Jubilee did a DOF Tutorial as well. Now that you’ve read mine, go read hers as it’s probably better!



    1. Yeah, I have lowered it even to 3000 and I still get them. I only get them when I have shadows enabled. Fixing them isn’t too bad, I’m used to it by now, haha. Hopefully some day they will fix the viewers so the lines don’t appear at all!

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