Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mariko Magic: Russian Snow Princess

Russian Snow Princess at Lemania Indigo Designs

I have been wanting to photograph this fabulous creation for some time. The outfit is Russian Snow Princess and was designed by Lemania Indigo, designer and owner of Lemania Indigo Designs. Lemania is a highly prolific designer, and the main store of Lemania Indigo Designs abounds with gowns, dresses, and outfits influenced by Lemania's love of Classic Hollywood movies. The collection is a unique blend of retro, nostagia, and modern that will appeal to women of style.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them to their original size.

I first saw Russian Snow Princess in a series of photos featuring my friend  Annyee Lindman who is a model at Lemania Indigo Designs. Annyee, modeling the outfit, was breathtakingly lovely in the photos. That was last February, and Russian Snow Princess had been withdrawn to make room for the spring fashions. Happily, the outfit is available once again for this winter season at a price of $560L. With winter scenery coming to many sims, I now had the opportunity to take my own set of photos of Russian Snow Princess.

A snow princess needs lots of pretty snow. As if bowing to the demands of the princess, my dear friend, Jaysun Dagger, created a magical winter wonderland around his island residence. Jaysun has a discerning artistic eye for the beautiful and the sublime. I am thrilled over how well Russian Snow Princess photographed against Jaysun's gorgeous winter scenes. As always, my photos are marvelously windlight free.

Russian Snow Princess comes with corset, pants, gloves, stockings, footwear, a fur hat and a number of fur pieces, a flowing flexy skirt, and a prim skirt. By enlarging the photos, you can appreciate the exquisite details of this extraordinary creation. And imagine making a beautiful statement strolling the season's winter sims dressed in Russian Snow Princess. There are other looks available with this outfit that are very suitable for indoor wear. By replacing the large flexy skirt with the prim skirt, you can create a look that is elegant and sophisticated. I love dressing down to just the top and pants to create a casual sexy look that is perfect for snuggling against your special someone before a warm fireplace.

I was feeling very Anna Karenina. So I also wanted to photograph Russian Snow Princess in a European city with an appropriate historical ambiance. Jaysun brought me to the perfect backdrop. Second Life is wonderful. It even had falling snow. It is a homage to Bruges, Belgium by the talented SL builder, Painter Meriman. Very picturesque, Bruges is called the Venice of the North. I got the ambiance that I wanted. The period buildings along the recreation of the city's canals made for a great photo session.

I do hope that you enjoyed this long look at Russian Princess. Be sure to explore the extraordinary breadth of fashion magic at Lemania Indigo Designs. At the mainstore, there are very friendly and helpful models displaying the day's specials.  The specials are very good deals. And there is always a nice group of devoted customers, self proclaimed SL Divine Divas, at the store. It is a fun place to shop, and I might see you there.

Lemania Indigo Designs Main Store:

Painter Designs:

The photos were taken at the residence of Jaysun Dagger and at Painter Designs. I would like to thank Jaysun and Painter Meriman for allowing me to photograph their properties.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Photo Mariko - My Sisters, Opar, Red Hair, and More.

My sister Dawson came back to Second Life for a short visit. I was overjoyed to see her as I've dearly miss her. Daw promises me that she will drop by occasionally to check up on me. I can always use some checking up and some sisterly advise and affection.

Speaking of sisters, this is a recent picture of my sister Victoria, now one of my favorite pictures of her.  I was showing Victoria the changes made to the Hidden Forest at Opar where all the original trees in the forest are replaced with taller, more mature trees in glorious autumn follage. I like this picture because it captures a new sophistication that Vic has brought to her appearance. She is charming as always. I also like the colors and lighting in the picture, especially the beautiful translucent coloring of Victoria's avatar. Naturally, this picture is windlight free. Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing.

On the Wild Shore of Opar, the sea churns and waves crash heavily against an island mountain and over the rocks on the shoreline. High above it all, Jaysun and I enjoy a sunset at Opar sitting by the campfire on top of Wild Shore Island.  The views up here are spectacular. And its so peaceful and relaxing here enjoying good company and listening to sound of the waves and the crackling of the fire.

The Japanese stereotyped the first Westerners arriving in Japan in the 16th century as being redheaded barbarians. And this stereotype persisted through the centuries. Well, this Japanese girl likes to occasionally go redhead. I recently have been wearing this curly red hair. Curly hair was considered especially barbaric by the Japanese. But I really like this particular look on me.  And It's not at all barbaric. Wouldn't you agree?

I was wearing this look when I went to the Bentham Forest looking for fashion shoot locations for Mariko Magic. I took a lot of pictures experimenting with different poses, angles, and lighting. This is one of those experimental pictures: but, I think that it stands well on its own merit. I used this location for my prize winning photo in the MEB Photo Contest.

I ran into Leesa Donner while out shopping one day. I am awed at all the changes in Leesa's appearance since she graduated from modeling school. She apparently designed her look very well as her Second Life modeling career is really taking off. She is so successful at everthing she is doing in Second Life. Leesa is amazing.

One of the highlights of my redesign of the Hidden Forest at Opar are
the fields of  tall wildflowers one walks through to enter the forest.

My very dear friend Leena Ying visited Opar to see the new forest. Leena is from Beijing, China. She is the owner of DrLife, a store featuring the best skins available in Second Live. Leena has a great love of Chinese history. She recently built the most realistic recreation in Second Life of the Great Wall of China. Women are definitely highly represented among the best builders in Second Life.  I'll feature Leena's Great Wall in a future post.

I took this picture of Lulubelle when we were exploring an AM Radio build in the exhibition sim for artists-in-residence of the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts (IDIA) of Ball State University. We came upon a incongruous sight.  Suspended high above one of those vast forlorn rural scenes by AM Radio was a huge blue orb which we were able to enter. It was like entering a pocket universe. For all 360 degrees of the interior sphere, distant stars surround you. The sphere is filled with white feathers and delicate floating dandelion seeds upon which you walk, sit, and lay. At times, you loose your sense of what is up and what is down. The effect was magical. I went to the sim yesterday and was disappointed to see that the orb is gone. Hopefully, it will be brought back.

ArorA at the El Cau

Jaysun and I caught the last half of ArorA Chadbourne's performance at the EL Cau in Caputxeta Vermella, a Portugese sim. There was a good sized audience at the EL Cau. It was a nice surprise to find an active Portugese community in Second Life. ArorA's performance was one of her recent best. The selection of songs and her intrepretations were superb.  And the mostly Portugese audience loved her, as all audiences do.

Jaysun and I enjoyed a little dancing at the El Cau

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World Aids Day 2009 in Second Life

World Aids Day 2009 observed in Second Life

On December 1, World Aids Day 2009 was observed in Second Life with live music performances in a number of locations around the grid. It's a day to reflect on the millions of victims of the HIV virus worldwide and to foster awareness that will help in the prevention of new infections and encourage further research for ever more effective treatments. I attended the performance at TriBorough, New York. Prior to my arrival at TriBorough, the event was disrupted by a couple of griefers who spammed the area with prims bearing offensive messages while hiding behind offensively named alts designed to protect their main SL identities. A reminder that lower life forms like bigots and cowards do inhabit Second Life. And a greater reminder, by negative example, that compassion for the those afflicted by misfortune is a virtue that should be nurtured as acts of compassion affirms our humanity and brings one nearer to God. Happily, despite the unfortunate disruption, the events across Second Life were a great success.

World Aids Day 2009 in Second Life Video:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Visit With Santa ... Ho Ho Hmmm

I'm on an important trip to Macy's. Santa is there, and I want to tell him what I want for Christmas.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing

Hellooo Santa. I have a long list of presents that I want.

And I've been a Good Girl this year. wink wink

Santa doesn't believe me.

Let me understand what you're telling me ... you're saying that Bad Girls get Bigger and Better Presents?

Wot do ya mean that I should ask Santa what HE wants for Christmas.

Hmmm ... Okaaaay ...  What does Santa want for Christmas?

(Put your own caption here)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Le Mont Saint Michel in Second Life

Le Mont Saint Michel, A Second Life Treasure

The Great Age of Exploration began in the 15th century when intrepid Portuguese ship captains and crews set out in their caravels from the port of Lisbon in search of new maritime trade routes to the East Indies and Cathay. Over the next 400 years, previously unknown continents, islands, peoples, cultures, and natural wonders were discovered by Western explorers as they pushed to the ends of earth. Today, there is no place too remote not to have been beheld by the eyes of humanity. Yet, we still have the urge to discover and explore distant lands, and now there are virtual worlds to explore.

Moeka Kohime, Creator of Mont St. Michel

Go to the map of Second Life, zoom out, and watch the islands and sims become as stars in a galaxy of multitudious stars. And know that each star in this galaxy is the creative work of some person or group of persons. The thrill is discovering one that shines bright in the firmament.  I have recently been exploring a super nova named Le Mont Saint Michel.

Le Mont Saint Michel in Second Life is an incredible achievement. It is a one-to-one recreation of the world famous tidal island of Le Mont Saint Michel in northern France. The creator of this sim is Moeka Kohime, a graphic designer from Japan. She fell in love with the island during a visit to France and took that love to Second Life. I can't even begin to imagine the amount of research, graphical expertise, and artistic talent that went into this re-creation. The detail here is astounding. Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing. And to gain some perspective for what Moeka has created, compare the picture below of the real Mont Saint Michel with the picture of its Second Life counterpart. Moeka Kohime has created a Second Life treasure.

Mont St. Michel in Real Life

Mont St. Michel in Second Life

Mont Saint Michel is a small rocky islet located 1 mile off the coast of Normandy in northwest France in the Bay of Mont Saint Michel in the English Channel. The island was consecrated to the Archangel Saint Michel in 708 AD and is famous for its Benedictine abby, a 13th century Gothic masterpiece, towering over 500 feet above the sea. Mont Saint Michel is actually an outcropping of granite conspicuously jutting out of a vast sandbank and exposed to powerful tides that can rush in over the tidal flats at speeds, famously described by Victor Hugo, ‘as swift as a galloping horse.’ In medieval times, Mont Saint Michel was connected to the mainland by a natural land bridge which was submerged at high tide and exposed at low tide. In present times, the rocky islet is entirely surrounded by water twice a month, becoming a tidal island. The actions of the tides give Mont Saint Michel a wonderful mystical quality. In 1979, UNESCO named Mont Saint Michel a world heritage site.

The Steepled Church Crowning the Abby

The Magnificent Interior of the Church

Benedictine Cloister Opening to the Bay

It’s a long walk up to the Abby of Mont Saint Michel and then up the stone steps to the Saut Gautier Terrace (named after a man who jumped to his death) outside the imposing church. Stroll the columned arcade of the cloister alongside the church and then get lost wandering about the abbey’s maze of rooms, staircases, and vaulted halls. Of course, getting lost is part of the fun of exploring this treasure.

Archangel Saint Michael appearing before Saint Aubert.

According to legend, the Archangel Saint Michael  appeared to Saint Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 AD and instructed him to build a church on the islet. Aubert chose to ignore the angel's instruction, so Saint Michael burned a hole in the bishop's skull with his finger. That proved very persuasive. The incident is depicted in a bas relief located in the abby that is faithfully replicated in Second Life complete with the bright light bathing Saint Michael.

There are pathways  throughout Mont Saint Michel, some are quite inconspicuous,  and many lead to delightful discoveries and scenic viewpoints. On one of my walks, I wondered into the small village graveyard which I knew existed in real life. That discovery had me marveling at the accuracy with which Mont Saint Michel has been recreated in Second Life. There seems to be almost no real world detail that is not accounted for in this recreation.

Aerial View of the Grande Rue

 The village lies within the protective walls of Mont Saint Michel along the Grande Rue, the cobblestone street leading to the abbey. As in real life, the Grande Rue begins at the granite base of Mont Saint Michel and spirils up to the Grand Degré, a steep, narrow staircase that climbs to the abbey entrance. Shops line both sides of the street providing a diverting shopping experience while on your way to the abbey. You are certain to fall in love with the quaint medieval charm of the village. The abbey may be the crown jewel of Mont Saint Michel; but its the Grande Rue and its La Café Poulard that brings me back again and again.

 Yes, that's Mariko Nightfire in Red Hair. I love the charm of the Grand Rue

La Café Poulard

There is an active community at Mont Saint Michel, and it speaks Japanese, not French. Not unexpected given the Japanese origin of the sim's creator. The social gathering spot of this community is La Café Poulard on the Grand Rue.  La Café Poulard is based on the real life La Mère Poulard, an inn and restaurant founded on Mont Saint Michel in 1888 by the famous French chef, Mère Poulard.

La Café Poulard is the social meeting place in Mont Saint Michel

The interior of La Café Poulard is comfortable, warm, and attractive. I like the library of books on the second floor arcade. It gives a nice ambiance to the room. You'll find that the conversation here is mainly in Japanese; however, the customers are very friendly and will converse with you in English or with a translator. Gaijins (non-Japanese visitors) from Europe and America also drop by the cafe. The crowd at La Café Poulard is not only very Japanese; but often very furry as well. Its always a good group and much fun.

The Staff at the La Café Poulard

La Café Poulard has a large staff of adorably cute waitresses. One or two will be on duty during the peak hours, Japan time. They will be taking orders behind the counter or tidying up around the cafe, even washing the windows. The girls enjoy bantering with the customers, and they are very funny. They are so adorable when they joke about wanting boyfriends. Be sure to tip them using their tip jar portraits on the wall.

At La Café Poulard, a waitress will inveritably ask if you want to order an omelette. In real life, La Mère Poulard is renowned for its large fluffy omelettes. They beat their eggs until they are light and airy. Then the mixture is poured into a pan and cooked on wood-fired flames. It's a great show that is wonderfully replicated at La Café Poulard. On the counter at La Café Poulard, I was glad to find a bottle of Heinz Ketchup. The French would be aghast at this. But I don't care. I like ketchup on my omelettes.

Making Omelettes at La Café Poulard

On the second floor of La Café Poulard there is an outdoor patio looking out on the Bay of Mont Saint Michel.  It's my favorite spot to unwind and have come coffee or wine with friends after touring the abby.

Relaxing with Jaysun and my sister, Dawson

Midnight at Mont Saint Michel

I hope that you enjoyed this posting on Mont Saint Michel and now plan to visit this Second Life treasure. If you see me at La Café Poulard, let's sit together at the counter and share some great omelettes. And please pass the ketchup bottle.

Mont Saint Michel:
Mont Saint Michel on YouTube:

Official blog for Le Mont Saint Michel in Second Life