I’ve worn many hats after 20+ years as a self-employed tech guy. One of my favorite hats has been photographer. I’ve shot weddings, food, commercial products, landscapes… you get the idea.
Nowadays, though, most of my photos are taken with an iPhone out on the bike. These photos really only see the light of day on Strava (here’s my profile). Some are taken so I can remember that moment in time, while others are taken so I can share the experience with my Strava friends. I upload pics from my Zwift sessions for the same reasons.
Just like “real” photography, though, getting a good shot on Zwift isn’t as easy as pushing F10. You’ve got to pay attention to your lighting, angles, background, etc. It’s certainly a more restricted environment, but there are still a lot of possibilities. And while it may seem silly to some, pushing the limits of these possibilities is fun for many, including myself.
With that in mind, here’s your definitive guide to shooting and sharing good Zwift screenshots.
How to Shoot: the Basics
Taking the Shot
There are three ways to take a photo in Zwift:
- Your computer keyboard: press F10 to snap a shot.
- Zwift Companion app: scroll the action buttons at the bottom of the map screen until you see the camera (last button on the right).
- In-game action bar: in iOS, just tap the screen to get this pop up. AppleTV uses the remote, and on a desktop computer, click the up arrow. This brings up an action bar which includes a camera button.
Photos are stored on the device you clicked to take the photo. On a Windows computer they are stored under Photos/Zwift. Here’s what my folder looks like:
What’s Your Angle?
The most basic thing you can do to make your photos more interesting is to change camera angle. On a computer, just hit a number key to change it:
1: Default 6 o’clock view
2: Third person view
3: First person shooter perspective
4: To the side front-left of the rider
5: Rear view from the right of the rear wheel
6: Head on to the rider
7: Spectator view
8: Helicopter view
9: Bird’s eye view
0: Drone View – use the arrow keys, +, and – keys to move and zoom camera
On Zwift Companion or iOS/AppleTV look for the eyeball button to click and change the camera angle. Here’s what each camera angle produces:
Advanced Shooting Tips
What’s Your Point of View?
If you want a real pro Zwift pic, you’re going to have to hit 0 and move the camera yourself. Hit 0 then use your four arrow keys to move the camera up, down, left and right. Additionally, hitting the – or + keys will zoom in and out.
Once you get comfortable with this setting it is very easy to use, and that’s good because the angle of your shot can make all the difference. I’m partial to low angles, taken from near street level. Here’s an example:
I’ve found in drone mode the camera doesn’t usually want to go low if you just hit the down arrow. But if you hit the up arrow first for a bit, THEN down, it will go lower than it would before! Give it a try.
Clean Is In
Unless you have a reason for displaying the various on-screen metrics, “clean” shots look much cooler. Currently on computers the first five shots taken are saved as “clean” shots, while subsequent shots include all the HUD elements. Sorry, iOS/AppleTV users: if you take the pictures from iOS they will always include the HUD elements.
Any photographer worth their salt will tell you lighting is the #1 concern for photographers. Photography is all about light, after all. Zwift shots also require good lighting, but for most shots it basically comes down to the difference between your rider being in the shade (bad) or full light (good).
Sharing Your Shot(s)
Zwift Sharing Settings
By default Zwift takes some snapshots as you ride and uploads them to Strava. You can change this behavior through the Settings menu so it only uploads the photos you take (my preference), or never uploads photos.
Changing the Highlight Photo
Strava will choose the first picture you upload as your activity’s “highlight” photo. If you’d rather use a different shot (this is often the case), simply edit your activity, clicking the photo you want to highlight, and choose “Set as Highlight Photo”.
So there you have it! Got any other tips for Zwift photographers? Share them below!