Photography in a Virtual World

One interest I have not mentioned so far on this blog is cars.  No, not Aspires to Zephyrs (Ford models) … I’m talking about Ascari to Zonda, sports cars and super cars.

But I’m not rich, so there are no cars of this caliber parked in my driveway. My daily driver is a 2001 Lexus IS300 sports sedan which I bought almost 9 years ago with 103,000 miles on it.  It now has over 155,000, and it’s still rock solid and purrs like a kitten, or roars like a lion when you press your right foot done.  A nice compromise for a family man.  It is a very comfortable highway cruiser and a capable corner carver rolled into a practical sedan with very high build quality.

But I can dream, and as games like Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport, and others get more and more realistic, I can experience with world’s coolest cars in a limited way.  To come to my point, with the release of Gran Turismo 4, developer Polyphony Digital introduced a “photo mode”.  This allowed you to place your favorite car from your GT4 garage in one of the scenic locations around the world, and take a picture of it using controls available on most digital SLR cameras. You can change the camera angle, shutter speed, aperture, use filters, and a lot of other controls that make taking a picture of a car in the game seem a lot like doing the same in the real world.  And the high resolution pictures this side activity produced are impressive.  They kept the feature in Gran Turismo 5, and it became downright difficult to tell the pictures were taken inside a game, not real cars!

Alfa Romeo 8C - taken in Gran Turismo 5

Alfa Romeo 8C – taken in Gran Turismo 5

This is one of my favorite cars based on looks alone.  I’ve never driven one, but playing with the GT5 version makes me think it would be a lot of fun to drive.  The BBC TV show Top Gear asked the question “Can a car be art?” when they reviewed this car. Click link below:

In addition, you can also race or just drive a car around a track in Gran Turismo, run the replay, and pause it here and there to walk around the frozen car in action to take photographs using the same controls used in the static settings. This is where aperture and shutter speed settings become more critical, because their affects combined with the car’s motion is quite accurate. This next photo is a Maserati Granturismo (that’s what Maserati named this model, though it looks a lot like the name of the PS3 game I’ve be talking about).  I was doing a long, 4-wheel drift with it here, paused the replay, and set up the shot in the photo mode.

Maserati Granturismo - taken in Gran Turismo 5

Maserati Granturismo – taken in Gran Turismo 5

Because of the shutter speed and aperture settings I used, the spinning wheels are somewhat blurred, and the back of the car is a little out of focus, while the front is tack sharp. Not the most photogenic background for the shot, but showing the long trail of tire smoke disappearing around a blind corner was the goal here.

Technology these days is pretty amazing, as the virtual world gets closer and closer to looking just like the real thing!


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