…finally post it on dA, but I just want to put it up here with a few technical notes.
Yes it’s noisy, although it took 43 minutes to render (I use a laptop, so most people on more or less powerful desktop computers should be getting the same result faster): 5 diffuse bounces, 3 specular ones (probably overkill, but hey), 256 GI samples, 256 SSS samples, and 8×8 pixel samples overall. 64 samples for the PhysicalSun shadow, but that is one of the least noticeable increases, rendertime-wise.
But hey, most of the image is lit via GI, y’know. I don’t know how fast Cycles and LuxRender would be these days to get comparable quality, but this is 3Delight. In DS.
I also suspect a real camera would also be somewhat noisy in a situation like that (she’s got her back to the light, not a pretty task to capture beautifully).
I tried adding volumetrics, then lens flare, but this particular image seems to work best without them. The light (oh yeah, it passes through a transmapped curtain, too!) seems to get too diffused by the curtain to make nice godrays, and lens flare just doesn’t look right in this situation.
There is a “cheat” or two in there, though: I use a specular-only gel light at a low intensity (GI only does diffuse effects), and since the interior model (Poserworld’s Swedish Studio) only has two walls, I used a cube surrounding the scene, with UberSurface shader on it (cast shadows – off, accept shadows – off). The cube has one of MrSparky’s free panoramas on it, just to make the bounce light a bit subtly more interesting than if the cube were just plain white. But as the panoramas are not HDR, I also put the image into the ambient channel to make it “glow” strongly enough to match the luminance of the white wall. So there is a bit of “fakery” there, but it’s photographer type of fakery (apart from the spec-only light, of course – but that’s a necessity, since IRL, reflection comes bundled with highly reflective surfaces used to bounce light back onto the model, and here, as I said, GI will only do diffuse).
EDIT: There is also a CG-specific cheat to her eyes – the reflection only traces the closest objects (about a meter’s radius, I believe), and then the shader looks up a nice environment map (one of the forest HDRIs from Openfootage.NET). And if you look close, the specular is anisotropic – which is not that realistic, but I love this look. If you look even closer, well, she’s got cat pupils, too. Like most of my CG elfkin. I don’t know why (the only “fictional race” I write about that has pointed ears and slit pupils are “my” altTES Chimer, and so far, I have published no images of Chimer), but it just feels right.
Photosurrealism rather than photorealism, then.