As I learn and grow in virtual photography, my techniques continue to evolve. The more I invest my time in Photo Mode, the more I feel comfortable with all its settings. Trying new things will help you think outside of the box to capture photos you wouldn’t have thought of before. Since I wrote “Through My Lens” back in October, my perspective has changed on the photos I take in Days Gone. I try to get more in-depth with my shots today by seeing through the photo. What kind of story am I trying to tell? What subtle object is in the image that provides that extra punch? How can I capture the dynamic lighting, the atmosphere or manipulate the distance to grab that extra detail? What can I do to bring something new to my shots? These are the things that run through my mind with each photo. Every snap I take, I try to outdo my previous best. I love creating things within Days Gone and my goal with this virtual photography series is that it may inspire you to create and try something new.
Storytelling Through Photos
A good habit to create when entering Photo Mode is to ask yourself, what story am I trying to tell here? Asking yourself this simple question will help inspire you to look for new angles, to capture that subtle detail in the background and end with a photo that you will love. And that’s what it’s all about right? Enjoying the art form and loving what you create!
Here is an example. These two photos may not be flashy, but it’s the story behind it that made me capture it. “Before Death and After Death” shows the state of Boozer at two points during his story. On the left, he’s lying on the ground badly wounded on the verge of death. On the right, he’s a new man with a new outlook on life.
An Extra Punch
So, you have a photo all lined up with the settings exactly where they need to be, but after looking at the final product you realize there’s just something missing to give it that extra punch. I have gone into Photo Mode more times than I can count without actually saving the image because I wasn’t happy with the outcome. Maybe the composition wasn’t right, the lighting, or I missed getting a detail in the right spot to put the image above the rest.
Days Gone is filled with details waiting to be captured, and sometimes that extra Freaker in the shot makes all the difference, or a shooting star in this case. Look below at this photo I captured recently. I loved how it came out with the low angle of Deacon on his bike and having the night sky provide a canvas for the backdrop. To give it that extra punch I’ve been talking about, I was lucky to get a shooting star on the left of the image. It might not be much, but it puts this shot at a different quality level than one without that small detail.
Dynamic Lighting, Atmosphere and Distance
These three components are something I’ve been trying to work on a lot recently with my shots. If you can incorporate one of these to a shot, along with providing a story and an extra punch I can almost promise you that you will have an extraordinary photo that you will love. Everything I talked about so far go hand in hand with this. For example, by focusing on dynamic lighting, the atmosphere will creep in, the distance of the shot will be perfectly adjusted giving you that extra punch, all the while creating a tone or story within the picture.
Dynamic Lighting – You can use anything as a light source such as fire or a flashlight. Look at the image below where I used the motorcycle headlight in a dark tunnel to capture this shot. I focused on the lighting to hit one side of Deacon. There I can adjust the contrast and the angle to highlight the part I want, while disguising the rest in the shadows.
Atmosphere – Honestly, this may be the “easiest” to capture because all of Days Gone is atmospheric. The way the world moves, the chaotic nature, the haunting caves can all be used as atmosphere. In this shot, I went with the foggy graveyard in the Survive challenge mode. My subject I was capturing that day was Carlos, so I was looking for a spooky scene and found it! Look at the fog, the gravestones, the night sky and how the bare trees provide that atmosphere I’m talking about.
Distance – There are many ways to interpret distance, but I look at it as layers. What’s in the forefront that you are focusing the picture on, what’s right behind it to provide that extra punch and what’s further out in the distance that ties it all together? In this photo, Deacon doing the wheelie is the focus. The next layer includes the lumberyard where Freakers roam and you can see how the train fell off the tracks. The third layer includes the criers in the sky and the mountain in the distance bringing the “wheelie” photo to more than just the bike itself.
Taking the same type of photos every time will get old and will drive you to stop taking photos all together. That’s why its so important to try new things, to experiment and share photos that may not be your normal technique. You may find yourself a style that really speaks to you! Enjoy the creation process of the art form!
As for me, I experimented enough with the advanced settings in the Photo Mode that I found a way to capture the black and white silhouette shots that I absolutely love to take. I wasn’t the first to figure this style out, but I had fun learning how to do it. So, for the people who have been wanting to try it out I have provided you the steps to create the silhouette preset so you can take your own shots. Enjoy!
Lastly, here are a few of my recent shots that I am proud of, and in my opinion displays my progression of virtual photography within the past year. Maybe they will inspire you!