Virtual Landscape Photography could it work?

Virtual Landscape Photography could it work?

Virtual Landscape Photography

Virtual Landscape Photography

Imagine: if you could immerse yourself in a breathtaking landscape where you were free to roam and explore. Imagine wandering around stunning land and seascapes. Lighting to die for and skies we can only dream of. No more silly early mornings or late nights! Already this is great isn’t it?

Computer games are so lifelike these days. They include realistic lighting, weather conditions and textures and they more often than not look truly amazing. So pictures yourself roaming freely looking for possible landscape compositions and striking panoramas? Looking for pictures to take, print and share on social media! Could this really be a thing?

So the first question raised must surely be why?
Well, let’s think positively first. Teachers could benefit greatly when explaining about compositions, ROT (rules of thirds) and lighting etc. Teachers working in a classroom environment, parents getting their kids enthused by the endless possibilities Landscape Photography offers.  People who are housebound. People with medical issues or disabilities. The old, the young!

Surely it’s great to know that you can learn a new skill in a comfortable, safe and warm environment, isn’t it?

Who would use it?
Teachers, Parents, Kids, Students, Artists and Designers. I’m sure the list is endless!

What’s the difference?
If you think about this for a second, currently, we take images that aren’t a true representation of what we see, or do we? The human eye sees in 3-dimensions and your camera captures a scene in 2D. Cleverly the human then decodes the 2D image back into a 3-dimensional picture. So, in essence, could we, therefore, assume our cameras are presently creating virtual pictures?

Virtual Landscape Photography

Virtual Landscape Photography could it work

Picture Quality
Currently, we can only take a screenshot. This is only a low-res image. But imagine if Virtual Landscape Photography becomes a thing? Taking a 2 or 3-Dimensional picture in RAW? The RAW file could then be manipulated further in your RAW editor and photo manipulation software!
But this asks yet another question… Post Production? Is it necessary?

Death of Photoshop
OK so you’ve found a fantastic composition but you then think,  I’m sure I could make this picture look so much better, it’s only a digital world after all… Imagine if you could virtually set up your camera on a virtual tripod and then let your creativity run riot…

You could alter, remove, add or change…

  1. Day or Night – change the scene from day to night or vice versa
  2. Lighting – light has a drastic effect on the feel of a scene so imagine if you could set it exactly how you want it!
  3. Weather – what about changing the weather conditions, I think snow would work here!
  4. Clouds – let’s add clouds. Simpson skies (bright blue with fluffy white clouds) or dramatic stormy clouds, hmmm let me think!
  5. God-like rays of light maybe?
  6. Sun, Moon or neither?
  7. Let’s add lightening! 
  8. HDR (High Dynamic Range) maybe?
  9. Selfie? I could take a silhouette picture of myself and then upload it onto an Icelantic vista complimenting the aurora borealis In the night sky I’ve just added.

Removing or adding artefacts in an image is commonplace these days. I find myself moving buildings, removing objects such as people and debris all the time. Adding the odd ray of light through trees and adjusting a lead-in line to make it fit the scene better isn’t a new thing!
Most Instagram images are generally worked to within an inch of their lives, so what’s the difference?

Virtual reality

Camera settings
Another valid question, what about your camera settings in our Virtual Landscape Photography world? Your aperture changes the way your camera controls depth of field and your shutter speed controls movement.
Aperture – Virtual 2 and 3-dimensional worlds currently offer a huge DOF but in this digital time, I am sure replicating a shallow depth of field would be very easy for software manufacturers to replicate. I mean, the latest smartphones are currently offering portrait modes. The camera digitally blurs out the background to give the impression of a shallow depth of field. This works so well that most smartphone companies use this feature as a marketing tool. I’m sure we’ve all seen the adverts!
Shutter Speed – Changing how movement in a scene reacts to how you set your virtual shutter speed, again, is something I’m sure software companies can replicate easily.

Imagine if we can change the scene by ticking a few boxes.

  • Sea flat or wavy?
  • Sky still or blurred? how blurred? 30 seconds maybe? hang on let’s see what it looks like if I shoot this with a 4-minute exposure! 

ISO – Goodbye ISO! Or maybe you could see what this image looks like captured at ISO3200 on my Canon 5D MKIV. Wait, I wonder what it looks like on a Nikon D850 or a Sony A7 maybe? What about budget cameras? I’m already imagining software companies offering different camera profiles as a download, purchasable I’m sure!

It’s all just a tick box!

Virtual reality Landscape Photography could it work

What about…
OK so up to press we’ve only talked about the technical issues but what about the fantasy part? what about the immersion? the ability to wander around our virtual world from the comfort of our armchair. Spending hours and hours walking up and down dale in search of that elusive landscape picture. Maybe in the very near future, you’ll actually be able to download a real 3-dimensional world! Isle of Skye or Iceland for instance? Just think how fantastic it would be to climb up mountains inaccessible to us and take true-to-life pictures from their summits?

What about if you couldn’t afford to travel around the world? What about if you could but couldn’t be bothered?

My demonstration
Bear in mind I only offered a demonstration using software which was developed as a game. I am sure when software manufacturers develop a Virtual Landscape Photography world it will look much more realistic and truer to life!

“Well” is such a small but powerful word!

In my opinion, I believe software like this is inevitable, like it or not. Who knows, it might even be in development already?

Will it be a substitute for us readying our equipment, researching locations, checking tides and shooting conditions and just getting out there? of course, it won’t – but we can say that now… because we can!

Millions, not hundreds but millions of gamers around the world already run around virtual worlds on a daily basis. It’s nothing new. Ask them about what virtual reality means to them. I bet they can get so immersed in their world they very quickly forget they’ve become momentarily detached from reality. So just think of how popular this could be! I haven’t even thought through the possibilities of using this software for architecture or even drone photography.

I would love to hear your thoughts on whether you honestly believe there is a market for software like this or will it just be a step too far!