Guest Post and images by Leon Stok

NOTE: Cross Posted at

(Author’s Note: Please be aware the my experience is limited to Gran Turismo 5 and I’ll keep my story limited to GT5 to prevent any mistakes there, though a Forza point of view is needed for a successful article.)

The current generation of game consoles allows a level of detail in car models combined, that combined with their specialist camera tools, allows near-photo-realistic car pictures.

In game camera options feature focal length, f-stop, timing and exposure settings and simple filters. A good overview is available here:

Or for Forza here:

In-Game car photography will only become more realistic in the next console iteration. PC’s don’t tend to be an option here since PC games currently just don’t have the budget available for the huge amount of 3D Modelling that needs to be done on every car in high detail. Even in GT5 only around 200 cars are created in extremely high detail with full interior modelling, while another 800 cars are copies/edits from older versions of the game, slightly updated, but in much lower detail.

This also causes some interesting points for GT5 photography in general: Not all cars allow full details, so if your favorite car is only available in low detail, you are stuck with working around limitations of what you have. (E.G. here is a small series of car shots I did with the Audi Quattro, a low detail model as can be seen on the fenders in some shots, and the way dirt accumulates on the side of the car – all these are without any post-processing outside GT5.)

Beyond this, there are many flaws like rough/jaggy artifacts in the rain/dust/shadows and others. Still, it allows me to make many pictures of same of my favorite cars, from the middle of the track, in the middle of a race, or at a special photo location, under ideal circumstances. These are all cars I would never be able to shoot or to get together. Yet in a gaming environment they are all there for me, ready to shoot from a location where I want them, in the light that I prefer.

On the other hand, some cars are modeled in such detail that absurd zooms are possible. (As seen on this page with some lovely Ferrari details.)

Beyond model limitations there are also limitations in the surroundings, so shots tend to look familiar when you know them, and though cars can be changed a bit with with different colors and spoilers, that is it in GT5.

This is one area where Forza allows much more customization since it allows changing the decals and images on cars, and more customization, causing much more different models, though the results can be mixed. Still with some inventiveness and a creative eye, a new and original shot can be made every day.

The joy of spending unlimited time with some of my most loved subjects Access to cars like these are just not possible in real life for me. So while I’m sure some avid car photographers might object to ‘fake’ pictures, the whole idea of composition, lighting pure love for the image makes it fun either way.

While currently both big gaming systems are hitting limitations, the next generation seems only a year or two away, bringing us even closer to real-life quality for in-game photography.

For those who object to this sort of work, it’s only when someone tries to pass off these game images as real – will there be a reason to complain.

Nothing beats photographing the real thing, feeling the heat, hearing the noise, and smelling the synthetic oil. But when you can’t go to the track whether in Tuscany or Tokyo, shooting a Lamborghini in a controlled photo-shoot, in-game photography is the next best thing.

If you have links to some cool in-game car photography leave them in the comments section.