I’m still working my way through The Last of Us Part I. My progress is glacial for one specific reason: Photo Mode. Turning every corner or glimpsing a character’s reaction to any given situation has me pause the action and pour long minutes into framing shots. My personal preference is character close-ups shot in Portrait Mode. As such, at home, you’ll see me in front of the TV with my head tilted to the side or stationed in front of a rotatable monitor. With the game being highlighted in PS Blog’s current Share of the Week, it felt right to not only highlight some of the great Photo Mode options in the game but share examples to help generate ideas and approaches you could fold into your own shots.
Photo Mode is fun to experiment with, and there’s a range of tools to tinker with.
In the game’s Options menu, you’ll find an option to activate a Photo Mode shortcut, letting you press L3 and R3 together to freeze the scene. It’s quicker than having your thumb stray to the Options button and potentially miss a great composition.
A new addition: located in the first tab of the Photo Mode menu, each button press will move the on-screen action forward a single frame. It’s useful if you’ve caught a person mid-blink in a group portrait or to nudge a character’s pose to be that bit more dynamic during an action shot.
Here, Ellie’s eyes are shut.
A few taps of Frame Forward corrects the issue.
Also, a new inclusion is the multiple lighting options. Head over to the far-right tab on the Photo Mode menu. You’ve the option of spawning up to three dynamic light sources. All are locked to orbit your playable character, but each can be manipulated independently. Change their position with the left stick, use the menu to alter their distance from the character, change the strength and size of the beam, alter the beam’s color, and more.
They’re a versatile tool. Use them to subtly add detail to a specific moment, use one to balance out the natural light of an exterior shot by illuminating your character’s front, or mask a trio as ambient light in dark environments to keep your characters out of shadow. Alternatively, dictate mood through creative use of light position and color use.
One tip specific to those shooting close-ups: keep your Field of View wide (Camera tab, far left) while setting up lights. This allows you to see exactly where your chosen virtual light rigs are on screen, making them easier to position.
With the sun behind him, we lose a lot of detail on Joel’s front. I put a single light set to a soft glow just out of shot, pointing upwards towards him. Now he pops against the darker background.
I put a single white light with a narrow beam at a 45-degree angle at Joel’s right, softening its str