The Art of Screen Shots


In the next few posts, I am going to run through a few of the techniques and mindsets that I employ when I am taking photos screen shots.
Taking a screen shot of something like WoW is used for so many different purposes that I am not going to try and cover them all.  What I am going to focus on is the type of screenshot that doesn’t involve a UI or dead/sleeping characters arranged in a phallic symbol.  In other words, serious screen shots of in-game locations, encounters and characters.  Taking a screen shot is pretty similar to taking a photo, just with less complexity.  You don’t need to worry about light meters, exposure and shutter speeds, but you do need to think about composition and subject. 
For me, the biggest thing about taking a great screen shot is being able to see the end product before you take it.  This is the same when taking a photo, and I think divides the good photographers from the great ones.  What I mean by this is that some people look at a building and just see the building, others look at the same building and see angles from which they could take a photo to capture that pattern in the windows, or the old fire escape stairs around the back or any number of potential shots.
The same principle applies in-game.  You need to look for the final product on your screen.  Sometimes this can be the entire screen, or sometimes just a small portion of it.  What may just be a waterfall could in fact be a great shot if you take the time to look at it from different angles, put different objects in the foreground or check it out from different distances.  All you really have control of when taking a screen shot is what direction you face, how high up you are and how close you are to the subject.
Here is an example of what I mean.  The shot below of the Stormwind Cathedral is just that, a shot of the Cathedral.  I did however make sure I took it from an angle which gave me a view of the stairs out front as well as the mountains and setting sun in the background.  Notice also the angle of the Cathedral itself – front on is not always best!
Before – Original shot of SW Cathedral
However, with a few modifications, the Cathedral is suddenly a lot more interesting:
After – Modified version
You may not agree that the shot is any more interesting, it is after all just the Cathedral.  Something I’m sure has been shot to death already. If that’s the case, treat it more as an example of what you can do.  A screen shot is not just what you see on your monitor in front of you; it has the potential to be so much more.
I will outline in the next few posts what I do and run you through how to look for a shot on your screen and the benefits of height, distance and angle.  I’ll touch on some modifications I use like cropping and adjustment of colour, clarity and the use of lens correction.  Don’t worry, I don’t use Photoshop.
Here is another example of adding what I see as more atmosphere to the screen shot for you:
Before – BWD Central Chamber Ceiling


After – The Gallows
Look out for the upcoming posts and feel free to post comments below or even some screen shot requests!
Disclaimer: If any requests require me to be in a raid like ICC, I give no guarantees.

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