My favourite photo modes

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Hello gamers and gametographers…

Last Sunday was #worldphotographyday and this got me thinking about virtual photography and how traditional photography can be, and is, applied to in-game photos. The Sunday before last I didn’t end up posting a post I was planning on doing about doing a ‘case study’ approach of a couple of photo modes; pretty much just talking about them and what makes them good. HOWEVER, what I had written wasn’t something I wanted to publish as I didn’t think it added anything new or very exciting. Plus there are more than a couple of photo modes that I like, just for different reasons. For example, a photo mode like Horizon Zero Dawn’s (which you can see in the featured image above) is great for choice but there is something positive to be said about the simple photo modes, like with Everspace, which literally has two/three options. So you have a photo mode on one hand.

On the other hand, everybody has their own style and types of photos that they lean towards taking, but photo modes make it easy to be able to experiment and try out different styles every so often. I certainly have my favourite type of picture that I like to take (landscapes) and others that I just don’t get on with (automobile shots; probably doesn’t help that I don’t really own any racing games to even try).


instead of doing the case study approach of a couple of good photo modes, or even just a list of ‘my favourite photo modes’ I thought I would spin it a bit and do my favourite photo modes, but team the particular game up with certain types of photography styles.

I found this article, Top 15 Genres of Photography That you Need to Know, that is simply a list of, well, 15 types of photography (in case that wasn’t clear lol); from aerial to food to wildlife. I thought I would choose a selection of types from this list and then pick a game for each one that I thought complimented the type. Obviously these are not the only types or genres of photography, but they are probably some of the most well known. And also, I’m not saying that a game can only take one type of photo.

What I have also realised is that there are many more types of photography that I haven’t even got near to trying out in games, such as war photography or sport photography (or indeed racing photography, but that is not on actually on the list). This will be something I shall be keeping in mind when I play games; try and branch out a bit from my comfort zone. Saying this, food photography in games might actually be really interesting to have a go at…

Now, these are just some examples from games that I have played. Unfortunately I have not played every single game ever made, so this is going to be just my own (maybe slightly biased) thoughts. As I already said, in most of these games you can do many types of photography listed in one picture, if you wanted. Also, as all these game have a photo mode, these pictures have only been edited slightly using the photo mode itself (I have not done any additional editing via Lightroom like I usually do) to show what can be achieved.

Here is the list…

#1 Portraits

For portraits, Horizon Zero Dawn is great (in fact HZD’s photo mode is one of the best). Aloy is a great model and with the option of changing her facial features and body position you can really play around with her character; you can even have her look directly into the ‘camera’, which is always great for a defiant look. You can also take portraits of other characters, if you position Aloy near enough. If you are a better gamer than me, which you probably are, you can unlock face paints to get some really cool effects (I’m really sad about this though as I will never be able to finish the game on hard mode). You can also instantly change the style of the portrait just by using the time of day option, so from dusk to midday to nighttime, each giving you a different feel to the photo. These were taken on PS4 (it is an exclusive).

#2 Landscape

Assassin’s Creed: Origins wins the landscape prize from me. I mean, there are pyramids! AC:O has a great map too, which means you can travel to the desert for some sandy shots or travel to Alexandria for some more urban styled shots. For the below shots I used some of the filters available from the photo mode and change some of the exposure. AC:O is a stunning game that you cannot help but take pics of what is around you. What is an actual good addition is the ‘grid lines’. I actually used the grid lines to take the pictures of Cleopatra in the same place, walking away from the camera, and then do a short, quick time lapse video (you can see the pictures and a link to the video on Twitter via this blog post.) The grid also provides you with the ‘rule of thirds’ outlines, which again is handy to be able to see. These were taken on PS4.

#3 Street Photography

So I must admit that I have only just started The Last of Us, the remastered addition that has photo mode, so I am probably barely even a quarter of the way through. But while I was playing I couldn’t help but take pictures of a town as we (Joel and Ellie of course) made our way through, and so you have glimpses of some great street photography; or of capturing the eerie devastation left behind. The photo mode is actually really great, not too dissimilar to HZD with the options of hiding characters etc. The only annoying thing is that to get into the photo mode you have to press just the left stick to access it, which I keep doing accidentally and at the worst moments because I think that’s the button to run, but I’m doing it less as I get used to it. These were taken on PS4 (again an exclusive).

#4 Architectural

One of my favourites games to take pictures of the buildings around me was in INFAMOUS Second Son. Being set in Seattle the game even includes the Space Needle! Architectural photography probably is not one of my strengths, a bit of editing in Lightroom would help, but like I said I wanted to just show of the photo modes, but you get the gist of how you can take some really cool pictures of buildings if you wanted to. ISS also has some great neon signs around the place that I love to take pictures of. Getting the camera to the position you want when in photo mode was sometimes a bit tricky, especially when you wanted to take a vertical picture (which is tricky enough as it is), but you do get used to it. I even managed to get a few good panoramas in this game (using Lightroom to stitch them together). These were taken on PS4.

#5 Photojournalism

Far Cry 5 I thought would be a great example for photojournalism. The article (linked above) states that: “…photojournalism captures live events as and when it happens and informs the world about it.” So for these pictures of ‘showing the world’ about what is happening in Hope County, I decided to go dramatic with black and white pictures. Taking pictures is now a lot more easier since they added a photo mode, which was a great decision obviously, and the photo mode itself is nice and easy to use. What I like is that you now get to see your character whenever you go into the photo mode! I had forgotten what I looked like haha. These were taken on Xbox One S.

[Side note: I still haven’t actually finished this game yet. But going in to take some of these pictures has made me want to try again, maybe after I have finished The Last of Us?]

#6 Wildlife

Last in this short list is wildlife; and the best forms of wildlife definitely have to be from No Man’s Sky; purely because they are just so weird and some quite freaky…The photo mode has the largest area that you can move the camera around that I’ve ever seen, which is great. The one thing I don’t like is that the vignette is automatically on 100% when you first go into photo mode each time, so you have to remember to change the settings to what you pretty much want the first time. Otherwise, it’s a pretty neat photo mode, mid range I would say as it doesn’t have as many options compared to HZD or AC:O. Taken on Xbox One S.


Last thoughts…

These are only 6 out of the 15 types of photography listed in the article that I based this little post on. Each photo mode has their good and bad points, but with the help of a photo mode, virtual photography can mimic real life photography pretty damn well.

The other types that I did not get round to showing examples of were: aerial, war, food, sport, candid, conceptual, documentary, night and fashion. That’s mostly because I have no examples to show of them really; so it only makes me want to try them now, like I said go out of my comfort zone a bit.

What do you folks think? What games do you think are best suited for different types of photography? Which is your favourite photo mode? Mine has to be Assassin’s Creed: Origins. I can go back into that game and I feel like I could take a million different photos. I also think using both sticks to access the photo mode (you press the left and right ones at the same time), instead of going into the pause menu or any other type of menu, makes it seem more seamless and quick. I also think the photo mode is pretty easy to use in terms of changing the options of depth of field for example; just point the cursor where you want to keep in focus then use the right joystick to determine the strength of the option to get that nice blurry background. Simple.

P.S sorry about the boring title; my brain is fried and I just couldn’t think of anything better (I bet I do the minute I publish this post though).

Next week: I am not actually sure what I am going to do next week. So it will be a surprise for all of us I guess.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

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