Virtual Photography And The Gaming Community

Virtual Photography And The Gaming Community

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world off its feet, the gaming community came together and found a new hobby in taking virtual photography. Even going so far as to create their own virtual photography portfolios, on both Twitter and Instagram. This gave way for a new little community to arise and receive support from other growing virtual photographers. Not only this, but having a personal portfolio allowed players to tag gaming studios. Including those such as Insomniac Studios (Marvel’s Spiderman/Ratchet and Clank) and Naughty Dog (The Last of Us/Uncharted).

What Is Virtual Photography?

Virtual photography has been emerging from the photo modes of games over the past years. And uses 3D technology to support the new frontier into virtual creation. It is, essentially, imagery that’s been fabricated to look like real-world photos and represent what traditional photography is. With virtual photography, you do not need a camera or a lens to capture the beauty of using 3D models and materials. Which is then combined with 2D graphics, alongside the combination of lighting to support the blending of certain aspects of the photo. 

However, with the ever-growing rise of online shopping, most rely on e-commerce. E-Commerce, also known as electronic commerce, is the buying and the selling of goods and the use of online services. As well as the use of online services, transactions of money and other funds also fit under e-commerce as they are business transactions. A good example of this is online shopping on sites such as eBay and Amazon. These support retailers in showing key features of a product that brings in potential customers.  

How To Do A Virtual Photoshoot

Completing a virtual photoshoot can be quite easy. Most virtual photographers focus on wide shots such as landscapes. A good example of this would be the landscapes of the Wild West in Red Dead Redemption 2. These show off the game’s world to others who may not play video games or that specific game. 

However, virtual photographers do not just exhibit landscapes. They also use portrait shots to capture the characters – whether it is the main character or their companions. A good example of this is The Last of Us Part II. This game allows players to experiment with the characters as they adventure through Seattle and other locations to capture silhouettes, long shots, and the lighting given in the scene. You can do this by moving the camera using the analogue stick to move the camera and the d-pad to change the options in the photo mode UI.

Virtual photography by Abi
The Last of Us™ Part II shot by @perfectpixels.vp

Virtual photography doesn’t just stay within gaming though. Many can use their smartphones. If you are doing a virtual photoshoot, it is key to find the best lighting as this will determine how soft and harsh the photo is. For example; sunsets and sunrises.

Not only is lighting part of the creative aspect of virtual photoshoots, but there also needs to be a significant consideration as to which frame you can use. Particularly to add an unusual or unique visual interest. Remember, that by taking lots of photos, you’re more likely to find “the one” – and that there is no “wrong” photo.

How To Know If An Image Is Real Or Virtual Photography

Sometimes it’s difficult telling the difference between a real image and a virtual image. Here are the key things to know to support you in knowing which is a real image and a virtual image:  

  • In a real image, the object is reflected and the representation of the object is produced by the light rays when they arise from a source at a real point.  In other words, there are often many points of light.
  • A virtual image is an image that has been produced by the light rays that have a single, definite point. In virtual photography, the light only comes from one source. For example, when you are capturing a sunrise, the main light source will be from the sun that will depict where other aspects of the photo go such as shadows of a character.

Amazing Games That Feature Photo Mode

Marvel’s Spiderman: Miles Morales

This game feature a lighting section that allows players to create shadows of Miles as well as silhouettes. The photo mode also gives players a chance to experiment with filters such as a 3D styled one and frames to capture the greatness of Spider-Man’s New York City.

In Marvel’s Spiderman: Miles Morales, the game’s photo mode has a separate lighting section that allows players to use either a ring light or sphere light that can surround Miles at any given moment in the game. The lighting section also allows players to change the colour of the light stemming from the primary colours (red, blue and yellow) to secondary colours (purple, green and orange) as well as the contrast and brightness. As most games do, Miles Morales also has the options to change Miles’ Spiderman suit to the ones already unlocked in story mode.

Red Dead Redemption 2

In Red Dead Redemption 2, players can travel across the Wild West and make camp almost anywhere on the open map. This setting gives players a chance to capture the beauty of the West at any given time. Whilst the options may be a little simple, the filters and the camera supports players in getting the perfect photo of either Arthur, John and their companions as well as the settings such as Horseshoe Overlook.

Whilst Red Dead Redemption’s photo options may be limited, the camera isn’t. Like the above photo, the camera isn’t restrictive allowing the player to capture a wide shot of the different camp locations or story locations such as the Saint-Denis city. The photo mode menu also includes filters that become important to Arthur’s story, the main ones being Honourable and Unhonourable. Players can also adjust the lighting under the contrast and brightness options either making the photo either dark to create character silhouettes or bright to capture the detail of character models.

The Last of Us Part II Virtual Photography

In a post-apocalyptic world, The Last of Us serves players with a photo mode that supports them in taking wide shots of a broken Seattle. Players can also manipulate the lighting in certain environments. For example, within the underground. Here, the red lighting can be used for silhouettes of Ellie, her companion Dina, their enemies and the infected. 

Virtual photography by Abi
Silhouette of Ellie by @perfectpixels.vp

The Last Of Us Part II’s photo mode gives players the option to change who Ellie is within the photo – or hide Ellie herself depending on who the player wants to capture. This can happen under the ‘hide characters’ option and will also give you a choice of player, enemies, and companions (this also includes Ellie’s horse).

Not only this, but the photo mode also gives players a chance to experiment with the depth of field option. This allows the camera to focus on one aspect of the photo and blurs the surrounding objects. Again, with most photo modes the game gives the option to change the brightness of the photo. This allows silhouettes to be made of the main characters, or the enemies, such as the infected that Ellie faces in Seattle.

Virtual Photography in Days Gone

This game takes place in post-apocalyptic Oregon. Here, you travel between different locations that are situated in the forest, desert, on the outskirts by a lake and up in the snowy mountains. This game’s camera may be a little restrictive but it allows players to capture the different species of infected that roam the roads.

Virtual photography by Abi
Outskirts by @perfectpixels.vp

The Days Gone photo mode focuses on a variety of options. One of these options is changing Deacon’s facial expression. Players can choose whether to have Deacon be joyous, filled with contempt or fearful. Not only can players change Deacon’s expressions but they can also decide to keep the bike shown or hidden. Thus creating a peaceful landscape with or without the bike to allow a moment of relaxation whilst scrolling through other game photography.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn allows players to change the time of day to capture the perfect moment in time. Personally, capturing the ruins at dusk is the best example of what this photo mode can do. Mostly because it perfectly captures the machine-ravaged world with a mixture of ruins and colours from the lighting. Horizon Zero Dawn also has many opportunities for players to capture the many machines that also roam Aloy’s world including watchers and grazers.  

Horizon Zero Dawn’s best photo mode feature is recognising that players can change the time of day at any given location. This option gives players a chance to use colour to their advantage (the pink in the sunset at around 6 pm in-game) to exhibit what the game has to offer. Especially when the brightness and contrast levels are adjusted. The photo mode also gives an option for players to change Aloy’s pose from pride to relaxed to a little pose where Aloy creates a heart with her hands.



Abi is an introverted gamer who prefers survival horror and JRPGs (Japanese Role-Playing Games) who also has a love for reading and anime. When she isn’t busy, you can find her playing either a Resident Evil or Final Fantasy game.

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