Friday, 30 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 28: Corridor

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

I’m still behind, and I forgot to save #29 to my Dropbox, so I couldn’t edit it and upload it on my Mac. Tomorrow’s Saturday though, so hopefully I’ll have time to do three days’ worth and finally catch up again.

Anyway, corridor… plenty of those in World of Warcraft, and many dungeons are nothing but corridors, albeit sometimes decorated to look like caves and such. I love the art style used for Titan architecture the most, but I think there’s one particular place that new Alliance (and really determined verteran Horde) players are amazed by at first but which sadly doesn’t see as much use in these days of flying mounts.

The undersea section of the Deeprun Tram
The undersea section of the Deeprun Tram, complete with Nessy the thresher. Click to go deeper.

Image notes: It takes ages to run this far down, and woe betide the clumsy fool who falls off the platform – you have to run all the way back to the beginning before you can get back on it. I'm told.

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 26 & 27

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank. I’m a little behind on the themes lately, so here’s a two-in-one.

26: Entrance

I thought I’d try to do something a bit non-obvious with this one, starting with a different interpretation of what the word ‘entrance’ even means. There’s the usual definition: “a point or place of entering; an opening or passage for entering, as a doorway.” But it’s also coincidentally the same spelling as the word which means “to fill with delight or wonder; enrapture.

Ophelia, the Siren of the Highlands, entrances Ephram Hardstone’s crew
Ophelia, the Siren of the Highlands, entrances Ephram Hardstone’s crew. Click to bring yourself closer to her radiance.

27: 10 minutes from home

My first idea for this one was to fly somewhere and capture a screenshot of the TomTom waypoint arrow and its (surprisingly handy) estimated time to arrival readout.

Turns out, you can’t fly in any direction from Stormwind for 10 minutes without ending up over the sea dying of Fatigue.

What you can do, however, is follow roads on land for 10 minutes.

A map of how far you can get on land in 10 minutes
What 10 minutes of fast mount land travel looks like. Click to explore.

Image notes: Fortunately, the maps for Burning Steppes, Searing Gorge and Redridge Mountains are all roughly the same scale. The map of Elwynn Forest, though, needed enlarging a little to fit with the others

Thursday, 29 August 2013

[WoW] Re: Missing Words

The Godmother recently posted a list of five things she reckons should be included in the next expansion, and it’s a good list. I originally was going to reply in a comment, but it got a bit long so I’m posting my thoughts here instead.

Player housing

THERE I SAID IT. Just go look at Animal Crossing, New Leaf and tell me that people don’t care about the place they live in. Look at how people dutifully Tilled their way towards Exalted in the Valley. People care about stuff no-one else can see. Just go the whole hog, let people share their homes on Facebook/Twitter and have a contest for the best Decorated Home every month. GO ON YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.

I… really don’t think it would be that hard to implement? I mean it’s basically a tiny raid instance with no enemies, right? Ditto Guild Halls. Of course, the question “how hard can it be?” is the bane of any developer’s existence, so I’ll trust there could well be Implications that I’ve not thought of.

New profession

Do it from the ground up in a way that is easy to level and fun, and then change all the old Professions to match this. You can make NPC’s in each Expansion’s Capital to sell the old patterns for a currency that you get as a drop whilst herbing, mining, enchanting, milling and prospecting. Everyone is happy, nobody loses out and you finally get to streamline all the Professions the same way. If you have problems designing this, gimme a shout. I’ll be happy to help.

I think GW2 has the results part right, in that the stuff you can craft is genuinely useful mostly regardless of level, and the top-end things (level 80 Exotic) are basically equal to anything else in the game. This plus the recent change that makes all currencies account-bound means the ‘gearing up alts’ market is pretty lucrative, and makes it actually worth the effort/cost of levelling professions.

Another thing GW2 does right with professions is making it less of a burden to switch: when you unlearn one in order to try a new one, you don’t lose any progress in the old one, so you’re free to switch back if you don’t like the new.

On the other hand, the actual mechanics of crafting in GW2 are really not that much better than in WoW. There’s a couple of quality-of-life improvements (access to stored materials from any crafting station), but it’s still ‘combine these things and click a button to make a new thing’. There’s zero player skill involved and it’s about as exciting as filling in paperwork.


In every Quest Hub there are people who JUST SELL MOGGING GEAR. That’s right, just mogging stuff: make it recolours of existing gear. I’m not expecting new stuff. Just get the old stuff out there so people can mix and match more stuff. How hard would it be?

This is something Zoe and I have discussed quite a bit, too. We ended up deciding that we’d rather see another GW2 feature: armour dyes! Although the big problem there is WoW’s armour models aren’t at all designed for custom recolouring, so I’m not sure what the solution would be – redoing all (!) the models in the game to make them compatible with a dye system would be a huge undertaking. In GW2 dyes can be made by cooks (as well as being random drops or purchasable from the AH or gem store), so a similar thing could work in WoW, although I personally reckon scribes would be a better fit, since they already make inks :D

More Lorewalker Cho-type NPCs

I’m not asking you to change old stuff, just add an NPC from the Explorer’s League/Reliquary in the levelling zones, to give us more lore background to what’s going on around us. They can be linked to Archaeology certainly, and maybe if you have the time you could do the same kind of stories you’ve utilised with Cho in Pandaria.

<3 CHO IS THE BEST. Well Taran Zhu is cool too, but I like Cho more (and the guy who does his voice. I’m aware they may be the same actor :p ). I love the Seat of Knowledge stuff where he tells the stories of what’s happened so far, and how you play the scenarios to experience the story yourself. If we could auto-follow NPCs who walk around, even better – sometimes I just want to look about, take in the scenery and listen to Cho/other NPC (like the bit in Shattrath), without having to constantly move in tiny increments just to keep up.

Class-specific quests

You proved it worked with the Warlocks. They were ace in Vanilla. Bring them back for everybody, and link them with proving Ground-type ‘learn your class’ quests as you level. Instantly better players, happy because they had a story ALL TO THEMSELVES :D

Well I wasn’t around for þe olde vænilla, and the current class quests you get aren’t terribly exciting (“go on this arduous quest for a reward that you’ll outlevel by the time you finish!”), but the idea of tying them into Proving Grounds is a good one! Blizzard could do a lot more to improve in-game player education, I reckon. The ‘Core Abilities’ thing in the spellbook is an ok start, but many people won’t ever read that, or even know it’s there, and the problem is made worse because it often lists abilities you don’t even have when you pick your talent specialisation.

I wonder if some kind of instanced class- and spec-specific quests would work best? You could start them from one of your class trainers (who basically serve almost no purpose now anyway), and they could accompany you in the instance, giving advice on how your class works. The instance could be different depending on what level you are (maybe one each time you get a talent point?), so by the time you visit a new one, you’d have some new abilities to try out, on which the trainer could advise you of situations where they’re best used.

Proving Grounds could then be a sort of ‘final exam’ – a way to practice everything your spec can do, and really push you to be skilled enough at it so that when you jump into your first raid (be it LFR, Flex, etc.) you’ll at least have some idea about what you’re capable of.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 25: Culture

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank. I’m a little behind on these, so please bear with me!

World of Warcraft has a lot of history, and very deep and rich lore. The various races all have well-defined characteristics, and it took quite a bit of pondering to come up with something that epitomised each one, yet would fit into a single image.

The mailboxes of the various races of Azeroth
Can you identify them all? Click to examine more closely.

That’s not all of them, as time constraints meant I had to limit myself somewhat.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 24: In the background

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

Have you ever had a good look around the instances in Caverns of Time? There’s an amazing number of lore-famous people wandering about, doing what they did before … bad things happened.

Yalaera in the Southshore inn, with Pamela Redpath in the background
My priest Yalaera chilling in an inn in old Southshore, with Pamela Redpath in the background. Click for larger version.

Image notes: if you haven’t been here, Pamela’s mum and dad are also present, sitting opposite from Yalaera, and wandering around outside is pre-lich Kel’Thuzad, chatting to Helcular. I considered using a different picture but went with the more emotionally appealing one in the end.

Friday, 23 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 23: Yellow

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

This one took a bit of work. First of all I needed the right robe, and thankfully my fiancée’s character is a tailor, so all it took was a trip to Darnassus to buy the pattern for a Greater Adept’s Robe, then a visit to the flower vendor in Stormwind for some Beautiful Wildflowers, and my outfit was set (I can’t remember at the moment what the belt is).

The next challenge was to find somewhere suitably yellow (or golden) to serve as a backdrop. At first we tried Eversong Woods, but alas it was night time, making everything more green and blue than yellow and orange. Also I ran into Silvermoon City by mistake and got PvP flagged. Oops. Luckily almost nobody ever goes to the city, so I didn’t encounter any bother.

Next stop: Isle of Quel’Danas! I had hoped that entering an instance would magically make it daytime, but this turned out to not be the case, alas, as we discovered upon entering Sunwell Plateau. Still! As my memory of the instance was a little hazy (I’ve only ever been there a handful of times, never when it was current), I couldn’t remember if there was anywhere suitably bright and lit either with neutral or yellow-hued light.

Yalaera before the restored Sunwell
The clue’s in the name, really. Click to feel the raw power.

Image notes: it took a surprising amount of time to find just the right spot to stand in for this picture – the lighting around the rim is fairly uneven, with only this area being bright enough to prevent Yalaera looking like a silhouette. It also took around three attempts to get a shot with the phoenix hatchling’s wings in the right place. Processing-wise, it’s a single frame with contrast increased a bit, and emphasised saturation in yellows, in particular. Oh and I got Yalaera’s hair dyed blonde for this shot too (it’s normally white).

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 22: A room

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

I knew immediately which room I wanted to use when I saw this theme word. I started playing World of Warcraft just before Wrath of the Lich King was released, so I never got to raid any Burning Crusade content while it was still current. Since it took me so long to get to 80, being a bit of a noob and all, by the time I was ready to begin my career as a raider, Naxxramas was on the verge of being obsoleted by the majesty that is Ulduar, so that’s where I got my first real taste of progression raiding. Because it was my first, and also because it’s objectively awesome, I have fond memories of that Titan wonderland.

Apparently, some folks weren’t as impressed with it as me. Too big, they said, too spread out. You needed teleporters to even get around in a sensible amount of time! And there was sooooo much trash to wade through! Wouldn’t it be awesome (they said) if there was a raid with no trash, one where the bosses came to you?

Lord Jaraxxus in Trial of the Crusader
YOU FACE JARAXXUS NOW. Click to make less trifling, gnome.

Turns out, a one-room (sorta) raid with no trash is actually kinda bland. Who would have imagined?

Image notes: 6-frame panorama, with the usual contrast etc. boosted in Aperture. Previous bosses defeated easily with the invaluable aid of my fiancée, as was Jaraxxus and every other boss thereafter.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 21: Slow

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

Of all the slow things in World of Warcraft – levelling, gearing up, raid progression – there’s one that’s always there, even though its impact is greatly lessened by the time you reach level 70: I’m talking about travel.

Azeroth is a pretty big place, although not realistically so – Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms are roughly 12 miles long, and put together they’re not much bigger than Manhattan island – but even so, getting around can feel like a bit of a slog at times, especially on foot, or in places where you can only use ground mounts.

Avenir the shaman jogging along a path on Azuremyst Isle
I made Avenir the shaman specifically for this picture. Click to get closer to the elements.

Image notes: not much to report for this one; cropped from a full scene, and some minor contrast and colour tweaks in Aperture.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 20: Stairs

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

There are so many staircases in Azeroth and Outland, it’s kinda hard to pick just one for a screenshot. A particularly impressive one is the Stair of Destiny in Hellfire Peninsula, moreso because it’s the first thing seen by players newly arrived in Outland. Then there’s the stairs leading up from the Court of Bones to the entrance of Icecrown Citadel, with that imposing structure looming overhead, striking fear into the hearts of those who dare approach.

In Pandaria, however, such dread fortresses are few and far between, with the architecture generally being of a calmer and more inviting appearance.

Jaluu the Generous sitting outside Mogu’shan Palace
Jaluu the Generous, quartermaster of the Golden Lotus, sitting outside Mogu’shan Palace.

Image notes: panorama image, with colours adjusted in Aperture to produce a retro, almost painted look.

Monday, 19 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 19: Lost

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

Not spatially lost. Not when you didn’t win. Truly lost: when there is no hope for you; when everything you hold dear is gone; when your loved ones fear you; when you can no longer resist the powerful darkness that has taken hold of your soul.

Prince Arthas of Menethil, at the tipping point, ready to begin the Culling of Stratholme
Arthas, at the tipping point, about to begin the Culling of Stratholme. Click to spread the darkness.

Image notes: black and white conversion in Aperture, along with contrast smashing and vignette, then sky darkening and bloom added in Acorn.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 17 & 18

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank. As I was away at my fiancée’s parents this weekend, I’m posting the screenshots for yesterday and today in one post.

17: Someone you spoke to today

When I first started playing World of Warcraft, just before Wrath of the Lich King was released, I generally read all the quest text, not realising that unlike any game I’d played before, there was lots and lots and lots of it. This was in the days when the default was for the text to appear line by line, slowly, and I didn’t even know there was an option to make it all appear at once.

Since then I’ve become a little more jaded, and have very rarely read the quest text (with one exception – that whole chain is great). That is, until I got to Pandaria.

I’ve actually levelled two characters to 90, about seven months apart. The first was shortly after Mists of Pandaria was released, and also around the time I bought Guild Wars 2, and I only reluctantly spent any time in WoW; really I just wanted to explore the new shiny that was Tyria, so I basically just sped through the Pandaria content as fast as possible, not really enjoying it or paying it much attention.

Eventually, a confluence of events meant I began to spend less and less time in GW2, and when my fiancée finished her third year at university and was free for the summer, we decided we’d have another go at WoW. I decided that this time I would give it a proper shot, invest myself in it more, and most importantly, heed the advice of the Pandamen to slow down. There was, indeed, no hurry to get to 90, as our guild isn’t actively raiding at the moment.

All of which lengthy preamble is to explain why I love this guy so much, and have spent quite a while speaking to him, both today and many times in the past few weeks:

Lorewalker Cho in the Seat of Knowledge
Lorewalker Cho in the Seat of Knowledge. Click to learn more.

Image notes: another panorama, this time using an equirectangular projection. Contrast etc. boosted in Aperture.

18: Exercise

I’m afraid I only had a short amount of time to think of ideas for this one, so it’s a little unimaginative (and I suspect several other folks may have had a similar idea). Still:

Practicing shadow priestery in Darnassus
Practicing shadow priestery in Darnassus with Yalaera. Click for MORE DOTS.

Image notes: as ever, processing in Aperture, although this time I used ‘devignette’ to give the edges a bit of glow, instead of darkening them. Also reduced saturation and nudged the white balance a little cooler, for a more moonlit feel.

Friday, 16 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 16: Cooking

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

It’s commonly said that for a really good steak, you gotta get your pan really hot.

Ragnaros helping me cook
That ought to do it. Click for a bigger taste.

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 15: The best

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

I tried to think of something in World of Warcraft that I think is ‘the best’, and there’s just so many good things in the game that it was hard to pick just one. Thinking outside the box a bit, it occurred to me that, as described in my Day 6 post, the best part of WoW is that I met my fiancée playing it!

Playing alongside her is the best part of the game, for me, whether we’re levelling, doing dailies, running dungeons, or enduring LFR; everything is made better by being with her.

Zoe in a quiet moment, fishing
Zoe in a quiet moment, fishing.

Image notes: ok so it’s not strictly speaking a ‘screenshot’, but it is a shot of a screen that has WoW on it, even if the screen is a bit out of focus.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 14: Trash

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

Funny how the word ‘trash’ in MMOs has a particular meaning: basically any enemy mob in a dungeon that isn’t a boss. Although they’re not really rewarding to kill, and are often though of more as an annoyance than anything else, dull stuff getting in the way of the Real Action, they do serve a few important purposes. First of all, they make a dungeon feel more like a real place, more alive, and without them the instance would feel very empty. Secondly, they can provide hints about what’s to come – they might use a weaker version of an ability the boss uses, for example. Finally, they provide a way of pacing the instance, and a break for the intensity of boss fights.

Of course, the trash mobs themselves aren’t just unimaginatively-named robots; they often have themed names based on the dungeon you’re in, to give a better sense of immersion.

Trash mob
Usually. Click for larger trash.

Image notes: once again, Ornate Spyglass comes in handy, and once again, image processing in Aperture to give a sort of ‘telescope’ look. Many thanks to the Creative Director for accompanying me to Ulduar and through the first few bosses just to get this picture.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 13: Fast

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

Much like yesterday’s entry, today’s doesn’t use the obvious interpretation of the theme word. My fiancée and I are trying to lose weight (and succeeding!), using what’s known as the “5:2 diet”, where each week we fast for two (non-consecutive) days and eat normally (but healthily) the other five.

If you’ve not tried fasting, it’s pretty hard going at first, especially if you’re not used to being hungry.

A starving buzzard
Click to increase hunger.

Monday, 12 August 2013

[WoW] WoWScreenshotADay 12: Macro

As you’ll no doubt have picked up if you’ve read other posts on this blog, photography is my hobby. Thus, when I see the word ‘macro’, I think not of a list of commands for doing mouseover healing or whatever, but of small things made large: macro photography.

Blue spotted caterpillar
Small bug, big. Click to further embiggen.

Once again making use of the surprisingly versatile Ornate Spyglass, I had a hunt around for something that would a) not look too bad when made huge and b) would keep still enough for me to get a shot of it (quite tricky with a super-zoomed-in view).

Image notes: as usual, colours and contrast tweaked in Aperture, then fake depth-of-field blur added in Acorn.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 11: I love doing this!

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

Tricky one this, mostly because there’s a lot I like doing in the game, and it was difficult to decide which thing specifically I should represent in a screenshot. Thinking about it in a wider context, though, one big thing I like doing in games is exploring, be it Skyrim, Tyria or Azeroth. I like seeing what’s around the next corner or over the next hill, and marvelling at what the game’s creators have come up with. In the past, I’ve spent plenty of time more fully exploring one zone at a time in World of Warcraft, and would love to find the time to do more of that.

The ‘Explore Durotar’ achievement popup
Sometimes exploring can be a bit dangerous. Click the image for a larger one that shows my entire UI.

It’s not quite the same thing, of course, as proper exploring – getting this achievement is more a case of staring at the map window looking for blank spots, then flying directly to them, without really looking at the world around you.

Still, you can still explore Azeroth without specifically aiming for the Explorer achievement, and this is, to me, more rewarding, particularly in Pandaria, both because it’s less familiar, and because it’s just so much prettier, more detailed and generally more interesting than Old Azeroth.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 10: Beverage

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

I had a couple of ideas for this one, but in the end I decided that going the extra mile to get this shot was worth it, as I feel it’s a bit more interesting, and for some might provoke feelings of nostalgia:

The Grim Guzzler, upper level
The Grim Guzzler, in Blackrock Depths. Click for large version.

The first time you encounter this place is a bit disorienting – after fighting through waves and waves of hostile dwarfs, suddenly you’re confronted with a seemingly friendly (or at least indifferent) pub, which you can more or less walk around with impunity, sitting at the tables with the revellers.

Of course, it only takes one stray spell or arrow to spark complete chaos, and very often a wipe, thereafter making life much more difficult for the group. Beware!

Image notes: another stitched-panorama, and some post-processing in Aperture to increase brightness and contrast – BRD is kinda dark, which you don’t notice much when you’re there, but definitely do in screenshots later.

Friday, 9 August 2013

[WoW] #WowScreenshotADay 9: 2 o'clock

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

This one was never going to be a “screenshot taken at 2 o’clock” thing, as I'm working at that time. So! Creativity required, and this is the result:

Laser crystal targeting circle clock!
Laser-crystal targeting-circle clock!

Huge thanks to my wonderful guild leader, who took the time out to supply both the laser crystals and the act of lasering!

[photography] Comparison of sensors: Fuji X-E1 versus Ricoh GR-D III

There’s no good reason I decided to do this, just that I was pixel-peeping files from my Fuji X-E1 in Capture One, when a silly thought occurred to me: how do these files compare to my Ricoh GR-D III?

The comparison is also completely unfair: the GR-D is a pocket-sized camera with a fixed 28mm-e lens, whereas the X-E1 is much larger and heavier (and I used the 18–55mm lens for it, which by itself is bigger than the Ricoh, although Fuji’s 18mm f/2 lens is much smaller and would be a slightly fairer comparison).

Fuji X-E1 and Ricoh GR-D III
Fuji X-E1 and Ricoh GR-D III.

Sensor Dimensions

The X-E1 has an APS-C–sized sensor, meaning it’s 23.6 × 15.7 mm, or around 370mm2. The GR-D’s sensor is 7.6 × 5.7 mm, or around 43 mm2. Here’s a visual illustration of the sizes:

1/1.7” sensor compared to APS-C sensor and Lego minifig

So clearly the Fuji’s sensor is huge in comparison, which means it has much more surface area for gathering light, and despite being 16 megapixels versus the Ricoh’s 10, those pixels are still much larger. All else equal, larger pixels gather more light for the same exposure, so they need to be amplified less than smaller ones, resulting in less noise.

Noise Differences

This image, taken in low light, shows the same scene as shot by the GR-D (left) and X-E1 (right):

Full image comparing Ricoh GR-D III and Fuji X-E1 in low light

Both were processed in Capture One Express 7. At this size they both look okay. Now here’s a comparison of the images at 100% zoom:

Comparison of Ricoh GR-D III and Fuji X-E1 in low light, showing crops at 100% zoom
Ricoh: ISO 1234; Fuji: ISO 3200

Now the difference is much clearer. Obviously the Fuji has more detail in it simply because it has more pixels, but the advantage goes much further than that: the amount of noise in the Ricoh’s image has destroyed a lot of the detail, despite it being shot at less than half the ISO of the Fuji. In addition, the camera is not very sensitive to blue light, so the middle book has lost all of its real colour, whereas the Fuji represents it accurately. You can click the image for a much larger 100% crop.

Highlight Recovery

Another advantage of larger sensors is that they tend to offer smoother-looking transitions to blown highlights, and often allow recovery of more image data in raw processing:

Example of highlight recovery in a Fuji X-E1 image

By comparison, the small sensor in the GR-D III doesn’t allow as much:

Example of highlight recovery in a Fuji X-E1 image

Notice how although the globe is darker, there’s not actually any more detail to be seen in it – Capture One has done a pretty good job of guessing what colour the globe should be, but it can’t recover detail that wasn’t there to start with.

Depth of Field

One last major difference between sensor sizes is their depth of field:

Example of difference in depth of field between Ricoh GR-D III and Fuji X-E1

Note how even though the GR-D III is using a ‘larger’ aperture, the image still has much more in focus than the X-E1. I put ‘larger’ in quotes because the the aperture number takes focal length into account (that’s what the ‘f’ part is), so the Ricoh’s aperture diameter is actually 6mm/1.9, or 3.16 mm, whereas the Fuji’s aperture is 18mm/2.8, or 6.43 mm.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 8: Peek-a-boo!

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

I struggled to come up with an idea for this one. The end result is from an idea I had fairly early on, but I dismissed it at first as I didn’t think it’d work very well, due to a pretty boring background.

But then, just before we headed to bed, my fiancée and I decided to try it anyway, and thanks to some extraordinarily fortuitous timing, we had our background interest!

Helvecta the gnome mage peeks over the walls of Stormwind.
Helvecta peeks over the walls of Stormwind.

Image notes: zoomed-in view provided by an Ornate Spyglass. Blur, vignette and chromatic aberration (of the lens kind, not the dragon kind) added in Aperture.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay 7: A sign

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

My first thought here went to the obvious: look for a photogenic signpost somewhere in Azeroth. I’d been idly wondering for most of the day where I might find such a sign when my lovely fiancée came up with a much better idea: we could create our own sign, with fireworks! Initially we wanted to use the ones that form the Alliance logo, but apparently they’re no longer available in-game. As luck would have it though, Darkmoon Faire is currently open, and therein one can buy fireworks that form the DMF logo!

With that part settled, we had to decide on a suitable location. It needed to be somewhere with a suitably dark sky, to show off the fireworks nicely. Furthermore I had this idea that the fireworks could represent a sort of ‘Bat Signal’, or a light in the darkness, bringing cheer to a place where there might not currently be any.

Bringing cheer to possibly the most depressing place ever.
Bringing cheer to Shadowmoon Valley. As usual, click the image for a larger version.

Thanks to my fiancée for taking on the role of Pyrotechnics Manager, to which she is well-suited, being a fire mage and all. And regarding the image, turns out that Aperture is good for manipulating virtual photographs as well as real ones.

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay, 6: This means a lot to me!

This post is part of a series of screenshot entries into a competition run by Tycertank.

This one was a pretty easy decision to make:


This place is special to me for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s where I did my first raid, and oh dear was I a noob – as soon as the gate was unlocked, I ran in ahead of everyone else and pulled something, and promptly got squished. After that little mishap, I was better behaved, and we carried on, struggling a little despite this being the beginning of Wrath of the Lich King and several of the raid members being level 80.

So clearly I didn’t make a great impression on our raid leader, which was particularly galling to me as a had a bit of a crush on her. She had the most wonderful voice, was super sweet and caring, and as far as I could tell from the small picture she posted on our guild website, was awfully pretty.

Now the second reason Karazhan is special to me: thankfully my first impression was not a lasting one, and the raid leader and I got to know each other better, well enough that eventually (after much encouragement from a couple of other guild members, to whom I am eternally grateful) I asked her out on a date. She agreed! That was four and a half years ago, and things have only grown from there: we’re now engaged :D

A note about the image: if you actually go to Karazhan and stand in the spot where this screenshot was taken, you'll notice something odd: you can't see the whole tower at once! To create this image, I had to take two screenshots, one angled up to fit the top of the tower in, then combine them in panorama stitching software.

[WoW] #WoWScreenshotADay - catching up, 1 to 5

Tycertank is running a screenshot competition! Naturally, being a keen photographer, I figured this was right up my alley, so I’m gonna play along. We’re up to day 6 so far, so first of all here’s my backlog for the first 5 days – I’ll put the current day in a separate post.

Each day’s screenshot must be based on the given theme. Click the images to see larger versions.

Day 1: The letter ‘N’

Nordrassil, the World Tree.

Hard to really do it justice in a screenshot – you really have to fly around it to get a sense of just how enormous it is! I remember watching a preview video of Cataclysm and marvelling at the countless rooty branches and the complex, 3D nature of the tree.

Day 2: Incomplete

Valgarde, as seen upon first arrival in Northrend, still under construction.

I love me some vrykul, especially the carved wooden dragon heads. I think Blizzard did a great job with the ‘looming, malevolent fortress’ thing in Wrath of the Lich King.

Day 3: Skyline

Borean Tundra
Borean Tundra, looking north-west from Valiance Keep towards Warsong Hold.

More Northrend. Another thing Blizzard nailed with Wrath is the atmosphere – the sky, the fog, the ambient sounds – it all combines to really draw you in. I also have a soft spot for beautiful barren landscapes, and Borean Tundra hits it perfectly.

Day 4: Fresh

Fresh character
A fresh character.

The experience you get when you first jump into the game, having never played it before, has come a long way from the game’s somewhat more hardcore roots, and especially since the Cataclysm overhaul. Still, I had to specifically disable all my addons to get this screenshot, as my normal UI looks almost nothing like the stock one.

Day 5: Early

Mulgore morning
Mulgore morning.

Of all the original starting zones, I think the tauren one is probably the most appealing and the prettiest, as like Borean Tundra its wide-open plains stir something in my heart.

There you go, my first five screenshot-a-day entries!