Blowing Up the Raid

World of Warcraft screenshots, with occasional commentary.

Screenshot advice

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I’m not a photographer. Outside of WoW, I’m a point-and-shoot tourist armed with a pocket digital camera capable of outlandish megapixels but not a whole lot in the way of depth of field. Thankfully, in WoW, everything technical is handled by the game’s own lighting engine and your graphics settings, so pointing and shooting is all you have to do.

Interface and camera settings

The default keybind for toggling the WoW UI on and off is Alt-Z (or Option-Z on Macs). Be aware that hiding the UI does not turn off combat text or hide names of players and NPCs.

Assign a single keybinding for screenshots that works for you, preferably without modifier keys like Shift or Ctrl. You want to be able to take screenshots on the fly while holding down mouse buttons or moving with the keyboard.

Every now and then, you may wish to catch a shot of your character in motion. Unfortunately, by default the WoW camera swings behind your character whenever you take a step forward. You can disable or modify this behaviour in your settings under Interface -> Camera.

If you want a distant wide-angle shot with the camera zoomed way out, use this macro to extend the maximum camera distance beyond what the sliders in the game settings allow:

/console cameraDistanceMaxFactor 4

I recommend setting up a macro for this, especially if you raid. Many raid encounters that involve positioning are much easier when you can see everything that is going on.


Everything I know about composition I learned from a lifetime of watching classic films. Find good films by diligent directors and cinematographers—always, always in their original aspect ratio, which in most cases is “fullscreen” up to the early 1950s and “widescreen” afterwards (to approximate things very crudely)—and pay attention to how the shots are framed. Professional photojournalism is also a good place to look: for inspiration I recommend The Big Picture, which communicates news stories in eye-popping photographs.

WoW is rather terrible about always centring the camera over the player’s character, which is excellent for gameplay and hopelessly inflexible for snapping screens. This is why I sometimes crop my shots.

Zooming in all the way to first-person perspective also works, if you’re okay with having ground-level shots where your character doesn’t appear. You can always adjust the height of the first-person camera by getting on various mounts.

Screenshot-related addons

I don’t use them, but apparently they exist. This WoW Insider article and the comments that follow it have a few recommendations, as well as a few screenshot tips of their own.

Advanced graphics settings

There are a number of hidden preferences that you can fiddle with to adjust your screenshot quality or change the output file format. Mana Obscura has a comprehensive guide to what these advanced settings do.


Written by Nicholas

23 Nov 2010 at 2:23pm

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