Welcome to the Virtual Photography Archives, where I invite in-game photographers to revisit their back-catalogue of photo mode captures to rediscover past inspirations, find flaws, and appreciate their progress with a little self-critique and reflection.
In this edition, it's a pleasure to welcome Shinobi_Space back to the blog as he takes us on a trip through his Virtual Photography Archives to a time before he could have imagined helping to create a photo mode. So, let's see what you've got...
First up, tell us a bit more about yourself and how you are involved in virtual photography
I'm from France, living in Japan, and you will know me as Shinobi_Space or just Shinobi. My VP involvement revolves around shooting games and posting on Twitter, hosting contests or challenges (although it's been a while), more recently creating content for my YouTube channel – either about other people's virtual photography with the "Explain That Shot" series, or my ongoing look at what is right and wrong with different photo modes.
- SHINOBI_SPACE // YOUTUBE -
I have also had my hands in the making of a few photo modes and continue to exchange with willing studios about how to improve their in-game photography modes. With all of this together, virtual photography easily occupies 80% of my free time.
- MORTAL SHELL // BY SHINOBI_SPACE-
#1: Where It All Began
- BEGINNINGS // BY SHINOBI_SPACE -
Game: Warframe | Platform: PC | Date: July 2018
I always kinda hesitate on what shot I should put up when I'm asked about this. I started doing screenshots and edits of my characters in a lot of MMORPGs in the early 2010's, but my first real "photo mode" experience has to be the Captura tool in Warframe.
This is the very first Captura shot that I took and maybe most importantly, my very first tweet! It's probably the week following this that I discovered # VGPUnite hashtag on what was then Twitter, and my actual VP journey began.
#2: A Shot That Was Underappreciated
- UNDERAPPRECIATED // BY SHINOBI_SPACE -
Game: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt | Platform: PC | Date: December 2022
Shots that go under the radar are often a matter of bad post timing, a game not being particularly popular, or simply that a shot (or subject) that you loved for a specific and personal reason was not as good as you thought and didn't travel to your followers. In any case, it can be frustrating.
I try to showcase games in an original way, producing shots that I haven't seen around too much, as often as possible. This one made my day. I was so happy at how it came out, the painting feeling, the colours... I don't know, it's just one of those shots you're proud of. I think I posted it at a usual good time, paired in a set that looked banger to me. And yeah... it didn't do half of the average I had for that game at that time.
Too bad, but still one of my favourite shots from The Witcher 3. I always try to remember when this happens that posting on social media is like giving birth to the shot. It's just the start of its life, a short moment in its existence. No big deal if it was a bit more private this time.
#3: Not Up To Your Current Standard
- NOT UP TO STANDARD // BY SHINOBI_SPACE -
Game: Dead Space 3 | Platform: PC | Date: May 2022
Wow that's a lot of horrible shots I just look at in my folders. What I can say from that terrifying experience is that it always comes down to the same few elements – bad aspect ratios, bad contrasts (too deep blacks usually), or bad placement of the character.
Actually, I can see how my obsession for "readability" in my shots became prominent. By the way, I wonder how much sharing this on social media and therefore having to make appealing shots on a small display pushed me in that direction? I wanted to choose a quite recent shot (last year) to show that even though we progress, and start being more aware of what we want to do, errors still happen on a daily basis, sometimes even because we try too hard.
In this shot, apart from the awful blooming, my focus was too much on the placement of the weapon in that lens flare. So much so, that I forgot to make the character himself more isolated, in a possibly better position. I think today, I'd just WORK on that shot. I'd re-take it 10 times until I got it right, instead of being satisfied with the ONE idea that I had first and move on right away.
#4: Shows How Your Style Has Changed
- STYLE CHANGE // BY SHINOBI_SPACE -
Game: Marvel's Spider-Man | Platform: PS4 | Date: July 2019
Well, it's interesting because I don't think my style ever changed. I was always obsessed with straight lines, strong compositions, and never got stuck in one particular type of pictures. Sure, I don't do much abstract pics but portraits, action, landscapes, it's all good for me to do those compositions.
One thing though... This shot is the second one I took in Spider-Man, the second one I ever took in an actual photo mode (except for Warframe Captura), and my first reflex was to emulate traditional street photography. I think it's a pretty common thing to do when we start, and some people kept this as an actual style and are killing it. But for me, as soon as I understood the freedom that virtual photography could give me, I decided that I'd never try this again.
Obviously, portrait photography is pretty much the same IRL and in game, but I won't go in a traditional photography impression on purpose in game. I'll always use anything at my disposal to make a composition look good. It usually comes closer to paintings than photographs, and I think it makes sense because of that freedom we have in mind, and in virtual tools.
#5: Challenging To Capture
- ACHIEVEMENT // BY SHINOBI_SPACE -
Game: Evil West | Platform: PC | Date: November 2023
Action shots are always tricky because they need precision in the timing and placement. When you don't have a photo mode like in this game, you can rely on PC tools that help a lot. Freezing enemy animations for instance is perfect because you have all your time to go around and look for your angles etc.
Still, this shot turned out to be pretty hard to set. Colours and contrasts aside, the rain was also not covering the bottom of the picture – it happens a lot when you put the camera where it's not supposed to be. So I had to use the bush in the foreground to hide most of the "no rain here" part, and to stamp a bit of rain where I could in post edit so that it was not too noticeable. But then, having that bush and the ray of light set as mandatory elements of the composition, it took more than a few tries to put that vampire up there properly.
Anything else that you’d like to add?
Thank you for putting me through this! I actually try to keep an active and critical look at my old (and recent) shots all the time. It's part of my training I guess, from my art studies 20 years ago. But still, looking for the right example to show what you changed or how you evolved, you need to go through a lot of shots, and those tendencies you left behind jump much more to your face than you'd think.
I definitely think we should spend more time actually looking back at our shots, not just the ones we love and put in our galleries, or re-share every time we got the occasion, but the full archives, unshared shots even... Maybe once a year is enough though, haha.
- SHINOBI_SPACE // SIGNATURES -
It makes me also very happy to see that I never felt "bad" or dissatisfied with my shots. I proudly shared stuff I wouldn't even press Print Screen on today. I just did the best I could at the time and learned little by little. I think it's key to enjoy the hobby, and keep moving forward almost effortlessly. Of course, comparison makes it painful now, but it can only mean that my shots will get better and better in the near future. Excited to do the trip!
Thanks Shinobi, it's always good to hear from you and great to know that you found it insightful to go back though your virtual photography archives. Some sage advice at the end there too, we should never expect to stop learning.
I hope you all enjoyed this look back over the Virtual Photography Archives and if you enjoy Shinobi's work then please be sure to show your support on Social Media & be sure to check out his website for galleries of all his shots.
As always, if you think that you would like to take part in future editions of the VP Archives, please get in touch as I would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading, until next time...