Exploring Ghost of Tsushima’s Photo Mode

Ghost of Tsushima, Sony’s latest and final exclusive for the Playstation 4 has a gorgeous open world filled with mongols to kill and foxes to pet. The scenery of Tsushima Island, torn and ravaged with the invasion of the Mongols is a breathtaking environment to live in. It also boasts an extensive photo mode, probably one of the best in video gaming history.

Turn on the Photo Mode option by pressing “Options” on your controller and then pressing right on the D-Pad at any moment (except for pre-rendered cutscenes) to enter Photo Mode. At first, the amount of tweaks at your disposal (there are 21) might seem a bit overwhelming — but here’s what each of them does and how you can maximize the most out of it to create stunning virtual photographs.

Basics : L2/R2 to increase/decrease altitude, the left stick to move the camera, and the right stick to rotate/orbit the camera.

1. Tracking Shot

This is the first option you see when you enter photo mode. The tracking shot option allows you to create your own mini movies to share. To use it, press X to set a camera at one place. Once you press X, you will see the number of dots in the bottom left increase by one. Each dot is the number of cameras in the scene. You can have upto 16 cameras to create a tracking shot.

The first camera is automatically set and determines where your animation would start from. Use the basics to move your camera around to wherever you would like to have the animation continue. Once you have set it, press X to lock down the camera in place. When the number of dots has increased by one again, move the camera to wherever you want next and press X to lock it again. Do it as many times as you want and once you’re satisfied, press Triangle to play the full seamless animation.

2. Focal Length

Known in many other games as Field of View, it basically allows you to tune the amount of area you want in your picture. Tune it up all the way high to have more of Jin and less of the environment around him to create stunning portraits, or bring it all the way down to capture a wide area for landscape photos.

3. Roll

Self-explanatory, this option allows you to roll the picture to create interesting angles for your images.

Here’s a tip. You can use the roll feature for great vertical shots. Look at this picture of Jin I took by turning the roll slider all the way to 90 degrees.

Doesn’t look like anything special, till you actually rotate the image in post-processing.

These are a great way to take close ups or portraits or just narrow shots in general. I personally love to do this when I want the focus to be solely on Jin from a vertical standpoint and I don’t want much of the environment around him to be in the picture.

To do this, just pick the scene that you would like to take a picture of. Roll the image to 90 degrees (or the other way). Remember that when you do this, sometimes you will have to adjust the camera again because the shot will be messed up. There is no easy way to do this, you have to turn your head towards the direction you’ve rolled your photo to and make the adjustments manually. You always have to keep in mind that the basic movement controls would be awkward to control now because .. you’ll understand. Play around with the settings and it’ll come easily to you. Remember that you will have to export the picture from your Playstation device to any other external editing software and then rotate it manually. It’s a bit of work but worth the effort.

4. Depth of Field

Another important feature to use when you’re taking portraits or close up shots, DoF allows you to blur the background to the extent you would like it to. This puts the focus solely on your character while taking a picture, and you can slide the intensity all the way down to f/1.4. Remember, the lower the DoF value, the more blurred the background will be.

5. Focus Distance

By default, the focus is set on your character and the auto-focus is turned on. If you would want to manage where the focus is set manually, press Square to turn off auto-focus. Play around with the values till you find the right spot to focus. Do you want Jin to be out of focus and the trees behind him to be in focus? Keep pushing the slider further. Do you want the blades of grass in front of Jin to be the focal point while everything else is blurred? Keep the slider at a minimum till you get the right depth. Play around with this fun tweak.

6. Color Grading

These are basically filters to overlay over your image. There are some really cool filters ranging from Black and White to Vivid to even a filter that only highlights the reds in the picture (for when you slit the throat of a mongol and you want the gore to pop out). #TeamMaple

7. Color Grade Intensity

Used for selecting the intensity of the color filter on your picture. 0 would be how it was before the filter was applied, 100 is the maximum. Play around with the numbers to find interesting combinations to spicen your picture up.

8. Exposure Bias

In photography, exposure is the amount of light which reaches your camera. Adjust the slider to the left to allow less light and more darker pictures, while go the other way to have brighter pictures. Don’t over or under expose your pictures or they’ll lose detail. Be subtle with the slider movements.

9. Particles

From here onward the Photo Mode for Ghost of Tsushima gets interesting. The Particles tweak allows you to add motion particles in your image. Select the type of leaf/insect/bird you would like in your picture and watch them drop in out of nowhere. Murdered a group of mongols in cold blood and now you want to flex on them by taking a picture? Turn on the Crows feature from the Particle menu and give the picture some extra gloom. There are so many elements to mess around with starting from various colored leaves, ashes and embers, different types of insects and birds that you’ll never run out of interesting combinations.

10. Particle Intensity

The amount of particles you want in your picture. Too many butterflies or leaves covering the picture? Lower it to around 30–35. I usually keep my particles to less than 15 percent for most of the pictures I’ve taken.

11. Wind Speed

Watched Avatar and always wanted to influence the wind? The next two options will fulfill your fantasies.

Wind Speed allows you to control the speed of the wind (duh). Note that the wind speed also affects the particles. It maxes out at 44 so if you put it to full it creates a dramatic effect which applies both to Jin and the environment. Jin’s cape looks majestic fluttering behind him at full speed, while the particles you’ve selected and the grass at your feet also sway at the speed you’ve set them to.

12. Wind Direction

You can control the direction the wind flows with this slider. I have pulled off so many amazing shots using this feature. The values go from 0 to 360 so you can turn the wind precisely the way you want it to.

13. Clouds

Now I couldn’t use this setting much because everytime I’d move the slider my PS4 Slim would start to lag. Maybe people with a Pro would have better luck with this. But what I’ve noticed during the brief time I had with this tweak was that you can move the clouds around to get amazing patterns in the sky. It looked really interesting but sad I couldn’t try it out.

14. Time of day

Self explanatory, this slider allows you to change the time of day inside the photo mode without affecting the game once you close the photo mode. You can also use this tool to have the sun in exactly the place you want it to be for proper lighting. For eg, if you want the sun to be right over Jin’s head to provide natural lighting, you can set the slider to noon and similarly if you’re standing at the edge of a cliff in the night wondering how a sunset would look from here then tweak the slider to the hours of dusk till you get just the right amount of light.

15. Weather

Pretty self explanatory again, you can control the weather using the many options at your disposal. One of my favourite ones to use is the heavy fog option, especially when it is combined with a dusk/dawn time of day looks amazing.

The other options are clear, fog, sunbreak, rain, snow, thunder.

16. Animated Environment

Turning this off basically freezes time. Keeping this on allows you to see those particles flow around, watch the wind affect Jin’s clothing in real time, see rain and snow fall etc. Once you turn it off, it’ll not change any particle/weather effects on your screen but it’ll just pause the animations for it and you’ll get a static image. I recommend keeping it on while you’re making the adjustments, but turn it off before you take the picture otherwise some of the particles might look a bit blurry.

17. Jin Emotion

This feature allows you to change the expression on Jin’s face. If this is used properly while taking portrait shots or close ups you can have some very intense photographs. You can also use the ‘Kissing’ emotion before you’re about to slaughter a bunch of mongols to have a romantic moment UwU. Other options are angry, disgusted and even .. dead.

18. Helmet/Mask

If you’re wearing any sort of headgear/face wear, turning this off will remove those accessories just for the picture.

19. Cinema Bars

Turning this on allows you to add two black bars at the top and bottom of the screen for cinematic effect.

20. Stamp

Turning this on will allow the Ghost of Tsushima logo to appear on your screen for a few seconds so that you can include the logo when you click the image.

21. Music

You might be wondering why is there a music option in a photo mode. This is a companion to the tracking mode feature which I mentioned in the beginning. If you’re making those short animated clips and want to add one more layer of badassery into it, apply one of the many tracks from the soundtrack and make your mini video.

Here are some of my shots that I took with this incredible photo mode.

That’s it, then. Boot up this beautiful game and lose yourself in the photo mode. Tag me on instagram @\paulsaysdie29 so that I can see some of your work.

Student journalist based in Bangalore specializing in the sphere of entertainment and pop culture — videogames, anime, movies, music, TV — and football.

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