Screenshot deluxe: Nic Clapper
Screenshot deluxe ist zurück für den Sommer! Wie letztes Jahr soll in dieser Serie in (un)regelmäßigen Intervallen bemerkenswerte In-Game-Fotografie vorgestellt werden - man könnte das vielleicht auch Videogame-Tourismus nennen. Diese Woche: Nic Clapper.
Der US-Amerikaner Nik Clapper aus Omaha, NE, ist nicht nur In-Game-Fotograf, sondern entwickelt im Moment gemeinsam mit seinem Bruder selbst ein Spiel. Hauptsächlich finden sich seine grandiosen Bilder auf Duncan Harris' Screenshot-Mutterschiff Dead End Thrills.
I really enjoy games, and I really enjoy creating things, so exploring games in a new way and taking shots is an awesome sort of mix of that. I don't have a huge amount of experience as a photographer, but I think in-game and real-world shots certainly share similarities. Whatever visual attributes that would make a real photo look appealing will likely make an in-game shot look appealing. In either case you're generally just trying to fill space in an interesting way.
I think control and technique is when things become very different though. Depending on the game you can have a incredible amount of control over things -- freely moving the camera anywhere, manipulating time, controlling weather, and in some cases even directly placing/posing characters etc. I suppose real-world shots can parallel some of that control to an extent by instructing models, creating a set/studio, or using something like a crane for those high shots, but then freezing the time around you and your camera is still going to pose a decent challenge...
Like a lot of shooters I started out by doing weird workarounds like weapon-swapping and wall-hugging to get clean shots, but these days I'll use a hack or command for no-hands/no-hud and a free camera if available. If a game doesn't have those options/hacks I'll still try to get something interesting with the old workarounds if I can though (such as with Deus Ex: HR or Darksiders).
So far I haven't been using graphical overhaul mods, but I've recently started messing with shader hooks like SweetFX for some added control over contrast and such. I'll also try to push game settings further such as shadow resolution and LOD/draw distance with .ini tweaks or console commands if possible, but for the most part I keep things vanilla. If I end up shooting a game like Fallout 3 its very possible that I'll bury myself in mods though.
Aside from all that patience can sometimes plays the biggest role. I spend a stupid amount of time staring at my screen just waiting for the right idle animation, the desired time of day, a specific AI routine, or whatever scenario that might be out of direct control for a given game.
Doing post-edits in Photoshop or whatever isn't something I currently do (outside of resizing), but its honestly not something I'm bothered by. Whatever looks good looks good. I've always thought JT's (Josh Taylor) shots he snapped with his phone are super neat for example (Lets ask a robot if those are in-game or real-world shots and watch its head explode).
Staying vanilla, using mods, post-editing...they're all just different sub-sets of the same thing really. I understand the desire to categorize things differently, but I don't look at one method as being any more valid than another. Just different. Personally I think I might avoid editing just because I sometimes work best within limitation. If I decided to start using Photoshop I'm not sure I'd know when to stop.
I think I like doing abstract/minimal type shots the best, and landscapes the least. I really like working with a low FOV or a high zoom level, and enjoy creating tight controlled framing. If I had to pick a favorite shot it'd probably be between Zebra Crossing and This Orient Dream
Artists like Rob Sheridan, The Designers Republic, Phong, EndEffect, or really anything that might show up on a site like depthcore is what got me into design, but its hard to say if any of that comes through on screenshots.
Aside from the amazing design that's found in the games themselves, I'd say fellow enthusiasts and friends provide the most direct inspiration with the awesome shots and helpful hacks they're always putting out there. Its very unlikely that I'd be obsessing over and sharing shots the way I do today if it weren't for them. Thanks for ruining the way I play games everyone!