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A Hobby Within a Hobby
World of WarCraft Photography An overview of how to take screenshots within the World of WarCraft
Last updated February 10, 2007 @ 7:35:37PM
Viewed 2623 times

A Hobby Within a Hobby: World of WarCraft Photography
That epic battle. The no-holds-barred PvP battle. The beautiful panorama. The funniest thing you?ve ever seen in-game.

All these are things that make for great World of WarCraft ?photography?, or screen-shots. The famous exclamation is, ?SS or it didn?t happen!? Now, by following this simple guide, you can not only prove it with a screen-shot, but learn how to compose it in an eye-pleasing manner.

First, there are a few basics that must be mastered in order to take screen-shots:

1. To take a screen-shot, simply press the ?Print Screen? button on your keyboard.
2. To remove yourself from a screen-shot, zoom in completely until your character
3. To remove your user interface (UI), press Alt+Z.
4. To remove name and guild tags that float above the heads of characters, go
into ?Interface Options? and find ?Player Names? and un-check the box.
5. To move the camera independently of your character, click and hold the left mouse
button. Your toon will not move, but the camera?s view of your toon will change.
6. To ?snap back? to the default, behind-the-character view, click and hold the right
mouse button and move the mouse slightly. If you wish to reposition your toon, you
can also use the right mouse button to make subtle movements.
7. When it?s time to edit your screen-shots, they can be found in the ?Screen Shots? file
within the World of WarCraft program folder.

Now that you know the basics, it?s time to move on to the more artistic aspects of taking screen-shots. Using the six points above and a creative eye, it is a simple matter of choosing your subject and scenery to turn a good screen-shot into a great one.

Good photographic composition requires more than your chosen subject centered in an image. If the background is interesting, the foreground subject can act as an added, enhancing element of the photograph. Play with angles, backgrounds and lighting to feature your subject and the subject?s surroundings to produce a photo that is pleasing to the eye and tells a story.

Appropriately lighting your photographs can be a tricky prospect in a game like World of WarCraft. Using the game?s ?natural lighting? to light your photos and your subject can be tricky, but the results can yield screen-shots that need little or no ?lightening? in the editing stage. Keep in mind that if the shot looks dark while you are taking it, in your editing software it will look ten times darker and require much more manipulation than if you find a location that is naturally bright. Move the character around and take notice of where the light falls on your character, and take advantage of the best lighting for your chosen composition. If you are trying to achieve a ?silhouette? effect with your subject, a low-light situation is ideal; if you are trying to feature your character or someone else, bright natural lighting on at least the character?s face is ideal.

Character Photography
Whether its self-portraiture or if you?re taking shots of another character, the most important thing to remember is that you must know your subject. If you?re taking shots of yourself, study your toon and keep your character?s ?natural movements? in mind when selecting camera angles. For example, the natural movements for a female night elf are a ?bounce? motion and a ?look right then left? motion. While a shot taken of a female night elf in a beautiful location and taken straight-on might be pretty, arranging your shot with a more interesting camera angle (say, taken from below looking up, and to one side of the female night elf) and utilizing the ?look right then left? natural movement of the female night elf will make for a more interesting, dramatic picture. It may take a few moments to get the shot just right, and you may end up taking more than one shot, but it only serves to give you more shots to pick from and play with during the editing process. Each race has a set of ?natural movements?, and with a little forethought and a few minutes of ?character study?, you?ll have that perfect shot in no time.

Scenery Photography
Perhaps the easiest form of ?screen-shot photography? is scenery photography. The lands of World of WarCraft are beautifully rendered, and nearly everywhere you look is another sweeping vista or breathtaking scene. Finding just the right spot for that perfect scenery photograph can be challenging, however.

First, find the scenery you plan to photograph. Look for a spot that you personally enjoy looking at. If you feel something for the view, you will be motivated to find the most appealing composition for your photograph. Second, try to make the foreground as interesting as the background. Look for a tree or outcropping of rocks to enhance the foreground and pull the eye toward your featured scenery in the background. While a ?pure shot? of background scenery is nice, foreground items that help to frame the scenery you are featuring and draw the eye to the center of the photo will make the photograph ?pop?.

Photos of humorous situations do not require the meticulous set up that portraiture or scenery photography. Often, if you attempt a meticulous setup, you?ll miss the moment and the picture doesn?t turn out to have the funny ?punch? you were going for. They often happen on the spur of the moment, and you barely have time to remove the UI before the moment has passed. All it takes to take a humorous photograph is a good eye and a fast hand. Funny moments happen all the time, so keep your eyes peeled!

Like humorous photography, ?Action? photograph takes a good eye and fast hand. In just seconds, you can miss that epic finishing blow or cool combination. If you?re observing the battle and are not involved in the fight, take a lot of shots in succession and leave your UI hidden; the time for choosing which shot is the best will come during the editing process. If you are taking part in the battle, don?t worry about removing UI; often, those who view your photos of the battle will want to see what UI you are using during the battle. Don?t sacrifice yourself for that monumental photograph, though. Keep yourself alive during the fight. Once the battle is over and you want to take a photo of yourself (or you and your group) in victory with your kill, keep in mind the lighting and composition tips outlined above in the ?Character Photography? section.

?Technical Photography?, or photographs that feature UI and other add-ons, is fairly straight-forward. No composition, lighting or camera angles are required, but crafty editing may be required to showcase the add-on or UI configuration successfully.

Editing Your Photographs
The technical aspects of editing a screen-shot are not discussed in-depth in this article, but any photo-editing software package can be used to edit World of WarCraft screen-shots the same as you would edit any photograph taken with a regular camera and saved on your computer. To access your screen-shots, access the World of WarCraft files via ?Program Files?. Your screen-shots are located in the ?Screenshots? file within the World of WarCraft file.

Screen-shots: A Hobby Within a Hobby
World of WarCraft itself is an enjoyable hobby, but developing your skills as an in-game photographer can greatly enhance your chosen pastime. Scoping out beautiful scenery and arranging a character ?photo shoot? or documenting that epic battle can be a creative and interesting way to fill ?down time? between levels, during and after a legendary fight, or to document your favorite places within the game. By following the tips above, you, too, can take screen-shots like a pro!

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