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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I understand that now.
You read the news and perhaps feel like we are doomed. Then you laugh with friends or family and think about what’s for supper tonight.
Sometimes, the good and the bad in life twirl around each other, leaving each its space. You step away from ruin to witness beauty. There in the midst of suffering and war, life goes on.
Welcome to England circa the Norman invasion. While modern America’s economy spits and sputters, there remain pockets of innovation and prosperity. One such field is simulations of historical periods for the purpose of entertainment. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla stretches from Norway to Britain and soon to Ireland as well.
Between responsibilities and political sparring, I like to ply my photography eye to these virtual environments. Perhaps you too could use a momentary distraction these days.
Landscapes are the low-hanging fruit for photographers like myself. The challenge is less to notice scenes worthy of consideration than to limit captures to more extraordinary visions and to seek the best perspective.
In olden days (a mere decade ago), taking screenshots in video games was a lesson in frustration. Characters and lighting wouldn’t be still. Intrusive interfaces covered half the screen. But with modern photo modes, the game world can be paused and the HUD cleared away. If only real-world photography was as convenient.
Light and shadow are more interesting in games today. Powerful hardware and innovative techniques are only beginning to approach realistic simulation of particle physics. The scenes shown here do not take advantage of the latest ray-tracing paradigm.
They do however demonstrate the complexity of overlapping systems, such as sunlight passing through an ever-changing patchwork of clouds and a curtain of raindrops to illuminate a medieval church built beside a relic of Roman occupation.
Day/night cycles, dynamic weather, wandering wildlife, and much else can make familiar scenes new again.
It’s never clear what the future will bring. The next year could be better or worse than the one before. But even when life sours there remain areas of improvement or clarity. Imagination sprouts from experience. Thus, every beauty discovered in virtual worlds is only derivative of the real recurring lights which no evil can purge from the good Lord’s creation.