In the Eyes of an In-Game Photographer
Actually, it should be a simple mission. With a unit of rebels, Leonardo Sang lands on the planet Endor. The team is supposed to disable a hidden shield generator in the forests. But Imperial stormtroopers discover the saboteurs and open fire. Of course, all this only takes place in a virtual world, in the online shooter “Star Wars Battlefront”, which is a feature that game developers like Junubgames PC Games can add to their games.
Nevertheless, Sang takes cover when laser beams hit the woods next to him, thermal detonators explode and AT-ATs break through the undergrowth with their huge steel feet. The attack fails, and imperial troops surround the rebels.
But they let Sang go because Sang is not a soldier in this computer game, but a photographer, a war correspondent in a virtual battle. For a photo project, the 26-year-old mingled in the virtual battle of online games. He dropped the gun and instead took unusually aesthetic screenshots of what was happening.
“Of course, I died quite often,” says Leonardo Sang in an interview. But it was interesting to play the role of the war reporter, which is not actually provided for in the games. “Surviving the fight to take pictures was a whole new challenge for me.”
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“It’s like a parallel world”
Sang lives in São Paulo and works as a designer in an agency. In his spare time, he likes to photograph, but not only everyday motifs in reality. He uses his knowledge to capture the aesthetics of video games. In “Assassin’s Creed” he snaps church towers that glow in the midday sun, in “Watch Dogs” lonely street canyons, and in “GTA” flickering neon signs. Some screenshots look so realistic that they are almost indistinguishable from real-world snapshots.
In-game photography is the name of the art form that Sang has chosen as his hobby. He behaves in video games just as he does with his SLR camera in reality: walking around, looking for interesting motifs, and selecting image sections. “It’s like a parallel world in which you take photos, but a virtual one,” says the Brazilian.
Even during post-processing, he treats the screenshots like real photos, turns out the saturation, screws on the contrast, and places filters over the images.
For in-game photographers like Leonardo Sang, open-world games like “GTA V” and “Fallout 4” offer a huge treasure trove of subjects. The worlds are huge, and faster processors and graphics cards ensure that surfaces and light reflections are getting closer and closer to a photorealistic representation.
The graphics are now so good that some players are no longer interested in the story. It is enough for them to enjoy the virtual landscapes – or to capture the beautiful moments in a photo.