This is a new one to me. Based on this question on main, what size image does virtual photography produce?, is "virtual photography" on topic here?

In the context of the question on Main, "virtual photography" is about in-game "photography" in some video games. Apparently those games have "photo mode", allowing the photographer to compose, set exposure, control for focal length, bokeh, etc. This is apparently a growing thing on Instagram, taking life-like "photos" in games.

A couple references:

My initial gut reaction was to migrate the question to Graphic Design, but after chatting over there, they didn't seem to want the question, and suggested maybe SuperUser. But I'm not as concerned about this (Main) question in particular, but the general concept of "virtual photography". Is it a fancy extension of graphic arts and graphic design? Or does it's emulation of the photographic process allow it to cross over into being on-topic here?

  • 1
    As of 10 June 2021, the two existing answers argued for "off-topic" at 6:0 and 4:0. For 2021, this seems like a strong consensus at PSE.
    – scottbb Mod
    Jun 10 at 12:59

At the very core, photography is about catching light on a surface that reacts to it. That doesn't happen at all with virtual photography. It's all Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) a/k/a Computer Graphics.

I think it belongs in Graphic Design, or maybe even Arqade, Game Development, or Computer Graphics

  • 1
    At 7-0 (6 upvotes plus your post), this seems like a clear community consensus.
    – scottbb Mod
    Jun 10 at 13:01
  • 1
    I fully agree with this, despite my 'devil's advocate' post. It would really need its own stack, imo, but I doubt it will get one. best fit so far is Computer Graphics, but that's more 'tech' than 'art.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 17 at 17:29
  • -1 I left a comment on another answer; photography isn't just about the way light works, there are other techniques that are a part of knowledge which still apply to virtual photography. The other stacks mentioned would only be focused on the technical interactions of the system, not on the theory of taking good photos (even virtually).
    – Jobbo
    Jun 21 at 13:40

I just came over just because of seeking guidance to this exact topic. In my opinion, it does not qualify as photography in the sense of the word.

"the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (such as film or an optical sensor)"

Taking screenshots, while in some thing similar to photography like the need for composition, lacks the core function as "painting with light". If taking screenshots would count as photography, then I would have a hard time to see why a painted portrait is not photography as well.

  • 2
    That was my initial reaction too. But I don't think portrait painting is the best analogy. At its most reduced form, you're right, it's a "screen shot". But in a way, isn't capturing what's seen in live view or EVF in a camera, or the screen on a phone, a screen shot as well? And at least as far as the high-end games with photo modes, they're doing ray tracing to produce high fidelity images, which in a real sense is one way we model the optics of physical lenses.
    – scottbb Mod
    May 27 at 16:21
  • 2
    I think a better analogy is whether or not at least some aspects of flight simulators is on topic over at Aviation. I'd imagine most questions about PC-based flight sim gameplay is off-topic over there. But as a tool for explanation, training, demonstration of flight characteristics, it seems plausible that some questions about flight sims might be on topic (I haven't looked). By the same token, as far as virtual photography is a useful simulation of photography in some aspects (I'm not asserting it is), would those aspects be on-topic here?
    – scottbb Mod
    May 27 at 16:26

I'm just going to play devil's advocate a tad here; call it a frame challenge - not because I want in-game photography to be a part of what we deal with on a daily basis in here; I do think it belongs on something more 'gamey' or 'computer-designy', 3D modelling - but that you can face the same challenges of composition, lighting, lens length, depth of field, etc as you do in real life.

A couple of examples I took quite a few [maybe 10] years ago from an 'online world'. This is not just screen-shotting a 'game'. Not only are the physical aspects built from scratch, but every aspect of the 'lens' & lighting environment too - human figures, clothing [& teddy], mountains, landscape, buildings, boat, water, clouds, sun & environment, fog, localised fill-lighting… you name it.
Literally, 'all my own work'.
Two disparate examples

Misty Morning
enter image description here

We Need to Talk
enter image description here

I'm not saying it's going to replace real life photography any time soon, but there are many parallels to it in the photo setup.
I don't think SE actually has a group these fit in. Blender is close, but too app-specific. Computer Graphics is too 'techy' rather than 'arty'. Something for users of Maya, Cinema 4D, DAZ, Poser & the like, if such exists.

  • Yeah, it doesn't seem like in-game photography really has a Stack home.
    – scottbb Mod
    Jun 20 at 13:56
  • This is what I wanted to bring up; photography is more than just learning how light works. There's a lot to learn about composition, and the rise of Photo Mode in video games has the potential to be the way people first get interested in photography (it definitely motivated me to some extent). Discussion about the tech or controls as they relate to specific games, that makes sense to be considered off topic here, but somebody trying to learn using the easiest tools at their disposal? I think that has to be given the benefit of the doubt.
    – Jobbo
    Jun 21 at 13:38

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