Virtual Photography

Through My Lens

October 21, 2019

Photo Mode is a key component to any modern video game. It’s a feature that is used by players to capture their favorite moments, to the smallest detail. Photo Mode gives the players the tools necessary to look at the game in a new perspective and create an image that speaks to them. Photo Mode also helps display all the hard work that the artists achieve when developing a game that many of us take for granted. Taking photos pauses the action to examine the lighting, textures, foliage and details making us appreciate the care invested in a game we love. Days Gone provides one of the best Photo Modes to date with an abundance of settings to really capture something unique. In the beautiful, but dangerous world of Days Gone there are limitless possibilities in taking photos. Open-world games provide you with different landscapes, wildlife, characters, enemies and special locations. You will find yourself taking more photos than actually playing the game!

Days Gone is the game that got me started with Virtual Photography. It got me involved in the Virtual Photography community, which I never knew existed before this. Being a part of this community taught me a lot about in-game photography and how I can improve. Participating in weekly and monthly themes helped me take shots out of my comfort zone and use settings in the Photo Mode I normally wouldn’t. I never knew that I would fall in love with this art form so much. Now, here I am with a whole gallery of photos and holding Days Gone specific themes. It has been quite the journey!

First, I want to say that I am in no way a professional at this art form. I am still learning everyday and hoping to continue to improve. In today’s post, I just wanted to share my experience with Photo Mode and provide you with my personal tips to capture Days Gone photos. This will not be a tutorial but will show you a picture of what and how I think. Maybe you will take something good away from it to help with your own photos!


From the Beginning

Before Days Gone, I would take screenshots here and there in games as more of a memento to myself because I never shared them. I never truly understood the Photo Mode feature and all its settings until now. Below, you can see my very first photos I captured that sparked my interest in Virtual Photography, this blog and all my Days Gone content. These were very basic screenshots with no editing whatsoever in Photo Mode. At that time, I had no clue what to do! It’s funny to see this post now because little did I know what would become of it.

Fast forward six months, I now realize what works best for me and what doesn’t in the Days Gone Photo Mode. My favorite types of photos I love to take are with the motorcycle, landscapes and action. I seem to take more of these types of shots more than anything else. Between the motorcycle, landscapes and action I feel there is a large variety there to play with making each capture feel different. The landscapes prove just how beautiful the world of Days Gone is. The motorcycle is such an important piece to the game and its customizations can always provide a different look. The action is a staple to Days Gone with the slogan, “This world comes for you.” This can create extraordinary shots during fights with a horde, a Rager bear, Runners and other enemies.

As I have invested the past six months into Days Gone, my focus with my photos now looks at shots that haven’t been done before. Not only on a personal level, but things I usually don’t see other players sharing. I try to keep the photos fresh and varied to display the long range of photo opportunities that Days Gone can bring to people. From a design on a rug to fighting a bear, I want to capture as much as I can. As long as I continue to enjoy what I am doing (which I do) my creativity continues to expand.

Every now and then I like to look back at my older shots compared to my newer ones to see my progression, but to also see how I can improve. Some of the shots I have taken I am really proud of, and others I wish I did something just a little different. That’s just the perfectionist quality in me. Here you can see my top 5 most popular photos on Twitter, which correlate to some of my personal favorites as well.


Personal Tips

I would like to share with you some of my personal tips on how to approach your shot and follow through with a good photo. Once again, I should mention that I am not a professional photographer, just someone who enjoys doing it as a hobby. Most of the tips I mention below I learned from trial and error. What also helped me was gaining inspiration from other VP members with their shots from a wide range of games. Learning perspective, verticals, framing were all things that I learned from being involved in the community.

So, when should you take photos? I believe it’s best to take photos as you make your way through the story. This way you can capture certain characters and story points that resonate with you the most. However, I find myself most of the time roaming the map looking for particular themes to capture. Whether that is a community held theme or a theme I have in my mind. For example, when the Horizon Zero Dawn bike skin was released I had a certain picture in my head that I knew what I wanted to do. When I think of Horizon, I think of that beautiful world and the cold and snowy environments. Immediately, I rode my bike to the snowy area of the map and found a great spot with snow covered trees and a small pond of water. I wanted this theme to be labeled after the DLC, ‘The Frozen Wilds.’ The photo I captured fit perfectly with the theme I had in mind. When a spark of creativity jumps up, I roll with it to see what will come out of the photo. Sometimes your photo may not match what you were thinking and sometimes you will capture a great photo by accident!

This Photo Mode includes a lot of settings from basic to advanced, giving you the ability to take a shot and turn it into whatever you want. At first it might look intimidating but honestly, I usually go through the same cycle of settings for each photo. My priority once I enter Photo Mode is composition, focus and coloring. The very first thing I do is focus my shot. From here, I begin to position the screen and play with the Field of View slider, along with the Aperture to get a sense of what I am trying to capture. Once I feel that the composition and focus is right, then I start messing around with the color. At this point, I am still in the Basic settings menu where I navigate to Contrast and Brightness. I find the Contrast setting to be beneficial in a lot of my shots in Days Gone because as I increase the slider (just a notch up or two) it provides the darker tone needed in a lot of situations. Now, I enter the advanced settings to add a certain kick to the photo. Whether that includes Bloom, Vibrancy, Temperature or Vignette. Most of my shots include some sort of combination of these settings.

A couple basic features that is added to every Photo Mode are Frames and Filters. Personally, I don’t apply these that much to my shots especially the Frames. Occasionally, I will include a frame if I think it adds to the photo, but the world is so beautiful I don’t want to obstruct the view. It all depends on personal taste. With Filters, I mainly use three of them; Vintage, Black and White and Noir. I find that the Vintage filter really captures the moody atmosphere. I like to use this filter with hordes and darker areas to give it that apocalypse and desolate feel. A great feature that is included in the Photo Mode is being able to save your own preset. This is something I haven’t really taken advantage of, but I do have one preset saved called ‘black.’ This is a custom preset that provides the all black background. Thanks to @warrior_musa on Twitter for providing everybody with this tip!

The best tips I can give you is to experiment for yourself. Try out all the settings, take photos that you normally wouldn’t and be creative. Most of all, have fun doing it! Don’t worry about the numbers game on social media. If you begin to worry about how many “likes” you’re getting on each photo, your love for the art will diminish. Whatever art style you enjoy, continue with it and be confident in sharing it with the world. I hope this helped some of you out there, particularly the players who don’t know much about Virtual Photography like I did.


If you would like to see all my photos I have taken over the course of my playthroughs click here: Photo Gallery, or go to the Photo Gallery tab at the top of the page. Remember, you have until October 31st to enter the second #VPDaysGone theme, Freakshow. Let’s see your scariest Freaker photos! For more information on the themes and how to get involved you can find everything under Themes.

Are you new to Virtual Photography and need help getting your Days Gone photos noticed? Check out the following graphic to gain support and enter different themes. The list you see here is what forms the amazing VP community and if it wasn’t for them, Virtual Photography wouldn’t be as big as it is. You will also get the privilege to meet other VPs that are always willing to support and share your photos.

Image credit: GamerGram