Photo Of The Day By Mike Kruze

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Solar Eclipse above the Lost River Range, central Idaho” by Mike Kruze.
Photo By Mike Kruze

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Solar Eclipse above the Lost River Range, central Idaho” by Mike Kruze.

The solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, as seen from the Pahsimeroi Valley in Idaho.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including Assignments, Galleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Mike Kruze appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

The 13 best horror games on PC and consoles to play right now

Update: It's Halloween weekend and to get you in the spooky spirit, several digital game stores are hosting horror game sales. 

If you're looking to draw the curtains, grab some candy and settle in with an appropriately frightening title this Halloween we suggest you take a look at the PlayStation Store and Steam sales taking place right now. 

There are more than a few of our favorite games from this list in the sale so this could be the perfect chance to pick them up. 

The weather is getting colder, the nights are getting darker and the leaves are taking on a blood red hue. Fall is here, and that means Halloween is fast approaching. 

Some of us get into the spirit of the season of scares more than others, but there really is no time of year better suited to picking up the best that the horror genre has to offer. While there are plenty of horror movies out there (and we've gathered together the best of them here) games offer something particularly special in that they put you in the driving seat.

When you're the one holding the controller and making the choices that could mean life or death, every moment is tense and significant. It's a lot harder to laugh at on-screen characters making stupid and cliched decisions when you're the one making them.  

We've gotten better at scaring ourselves than ever and games have matured beyond simple gore and jump scares. Though these elements still play an important role in the genre, our approach to horror has more nuance than ever. 

What follows are what we think are 13 of the best horror games that you can play on PC and consoles today. We think we've picked an appropriate number. Go ahead and spook yourselves silly.

  • Do you just want to kick back and watch a horror movie instead? Here's our list of the 13 best horror movies.

Little Nightmares is a great example of a game that manages to inspire fear and disgust without using traditional blood and gore.

The game puts you in control of a young girl called Six and has you navigate a a frightening world that's far too big for her, populated by a wide array of giant and grotesque creatues.

You don't have to fight these creatures, you just have to sneak around world and hide to get past them in what is absolutely a platforming puzzle game. 

Little Nightmares is a great horror game in that it perfectly creates a feeling of helplessness while making it clear that you're capable of escaping. It takes familiar and the domestic areas of the home which should be comforting and turns them on their head by making them repulsive and unsafe. 

Little Nightmares can be played now on PC, Xbox One and PS4

We've all watched a teen slasher movie at some point (it's hard to escape them) but they're surprisingly uncommon in the gaming world. Probably because it'd be so hard to get it right.

Fortunately, Until Dawn is a game that tried the trope and got it right by combining both game and movie elements. 

This PS4 exclusive game follows a group of teenagers going on a trip to a remote cabin in the mountains where, shockingly, there's a frightening presence interested in picking them off one by one. 

It's up to you to make decisions for the characters in the game which means whether or not they live or die is entirely down to you. Make the wrong decision and your favorite could meet a very grizzly end. Until Dawn is a great horror game because although it'll genuinely scare you, you get a sense it's having a lot of fun doing it. 

Until Dawn can be played now on PlayStation 4

After so long away, Resident Evil's return could have been something of a disaster but fortunately for fans of the series the seventh installment was a great success. 

Resident Evil 7 was a much needed breath of fresh air for the series, bringing in a modern understanding of both horror movies and games while managing to retain that very distinct Resident Evil feel. 

By moving the perspective from third to first person it also made the fear feel closer and more immediate and it also made it possible to include a genuinely frightening VR experience to the game. 

With a great story and tight gameplay, Resident Evil 7 was the addition to the horror series we all wanted and feared we would get. Read our full review here. 

You can play Resident Evil on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. 

Dead Space, three games published by EA and developed by Visceral Games, is among the contemporary classic horror games. The story, first set on an abandoned space vessel (duh), takes terrifying twists and turns – most of which involving zombified aliens waiting around said turns.

Following the formula established by Ridley Scott's classic "Alien" certainly helped – besides, the first Alien game to pull it off didn't release for another few years. (See all about that one in a few slides.)

All in all, Dead Space was one of the pioneering horror games of the modern era, inspiring a renaissance in the genre that hasn't yet died down. That comes down to some simple tenants: a compelling story, believable visuals and proper pacing.

You can play Dead Space on Xbox 360, PS3 and Windows.

Released in mid-2012, Slender is based around long pauses followed by sudden movements that are totally unexpected. In other words: jump scares. Essentially, it is a horror film in video game form. It’s a bit cheap, but – boy – does it work.

Your mission is simple: Don’t get killed, collect the eight pieces of a book and run. The “thing” pursuing you – known as Slender Man (directly inspired by the meme) – is a faceless, eerily (unnaturally) lanky man in a pinstriped suit.

Basically, he’s the perfect horror game villain.

The game relies heavily around the player having virtually no resources beyond a flashlight and the ability to jog. Naturally, both of which are limited for obvious reasons, making escape all the more difficult.

Overall, Slender is a fun, not-so-clever horror game that is guaranteed to scare you senseless nevertheless.

You can play Slender: The Eight Pages on Windows and OS X.

While Left 4 Dead came first, the second version saw Valve nail original creators Turtle Rock Studios' vision. Set in a world overrun by zombies, the game follows four characters in their mission to survive through several cooperative and competitive online modes, which – in conjunction with mods on PC – make for a veritable ton of replayability.

Our friends at PC Gamer have ranked it among their top FPS games of all time. We're pretty certain that most PC players would agree with that.

The game was originally banned in Australia due to its graphic content, a de facto seal of approval, if you will. The ban has since been lifted, and so lovers of hardcore horror games are sure to rejoice in its gross, lengthy scenes of devastation and destruction worldwide.

You can play Left 4 Dead 2 on Xbox 360, Windows, OS X and Linux.

Outlast and Outlast 2, developed by Red Barrels Studio, are now must-plays in the horror genre. Both games put players in control of investigative journalists but while the first is set in an asylum for the insane, the sequel takes place in the much more open location of a dilapidated rural part of Northern Arizona. 

What helps make the Outlast games, well, last is that they follow a cardinal rule of horror games: don't empower your players too much, otherwise it's no longer a horror game.

Offering a refreshing break from zombies and aliens, Outlast and its sequel are fine games to play if you want a longer – and arguably scarier – break from your average gun-toting jump scare-fest.

You can play Outlast and Outlast 2 on Xbox One, PS4, Windows, OS X and Linux.

Of the countless games to use this precious creative license over the years, developer Creative Assembly is the first to actually create a game that lives up to it. The game takes place 15 years following the events of the 1979 Ridley Scott film, putting players into the space boots of Ellen Ripley's daughter, Amanda Ripley.

Taking on a first-person perspective and squaring you off with a single xenomorph hunting you across a vast space station in darkness, Isolation nails what it felt like watching the film for the first time. The vibe is so much of what makes an amazing horror game, and Isolation feels as if you're playing through the movie.

Throw in excruciatingly clever artificial intelligence afforded the alien, and an absolutely gripping virtual reality experiment, and you have the trappings of a modern horror classic.

You can play Alien: Isolation on Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, Windows, OS X and Linux.

SOMA, released in 2015 by Amnesia developer Frictional Games, is a thoughtful – and thought-provoking – game that could easily be considered an interactive film. Are you sensing a theme here at all?

The game contains neither zombies nor aliens, but instead a shift between 2015 and 2104, when humans have been wiped out by a comet and what’s left of humanity must fight to survive underwater in an abandoned research facility gone rogue.

While SOMA may not be as outright scary as, say, Amnesia, it is still a fantastic game, thanks to its brooding atmosphere, surprisingly fresh subject matter (for horror games) and incredible audio design.

You can play SOMA on PS4, Windows, OS X and Linux.

Five Nights at Freddy’s is – undoubtedly – a different kind of horror game. With a premise seeing players “surviving” a night in a kid-themed pizza parlor, it’s unlike almost anything else in the genre.

However, it’s a surprisingly fun game to play, once you can get past the terrifying visage of an animatronic teddy bear guitarist come to life in the dead of night. Generally, players combat these twisted, possessed figures with security cameras – what? Poltergeists don’t like leaving evidence.

The game is the work of Scott Cawthon, an independent developer, who released it in 2014. Since then, there have been three more direct sequels, all of which have received positive reviews. Talk about staying power.

You can play Five Nights at Freddy’s on Windows, iOS and Android.

As the name would suggest, this game is about forgetting things – but the only thing the player will not forget is how damn scary this game is. The game is based around a series of puzzles, which the player can opt-out of with dramatic consequences (usually a gruesome death).

Made by Frictional Games and preceding SOMA, Amnesia follows a protagonist – i.e. you, from the first person perspective – trying to figure out what is going on after waking up in a torturous dungeon. If you don’t, you get slaughter by some disgusting, slack-jawed humanoid creature, and that’s that.

Our friends at PC Format once said, “[it] isn’t a game, [but] a trip into the human psyche’s darker spaces. Not for the faint of heart, but horror junkies will lap it up.” You can’t really give much higher praise than that.

You can play Amnesia: The Dark Descent on Windows, OS X and Linux.

One corner of the gaming medium that has never managed to pull off horror well is two-dimensional, or 2D, games. With Superflat Games’ Lone Survivor, that changes now.

Driven by its unique gameplay style and ambiguous character placement, the game is immersive, curious and surprisingly unsettling given its visuals. The ending, too, is a break from gaming convention and just highlights how different Lone Survivor is from the pack.

In this game, you are the last survivor of an epidemic that has to wear a mask at all times in order to survive. There are so many unanswered questions in the game – for instance, the lead character’s name – that it becomes a horror-within-a-horror: you jump at every attack and at your own revelations.

You can play Lone Survivor on PS4, PS Vita, Wii U, Windows, OS X and Linux.

The Evil Within comes from the mind behind Resident Evil, Shinji Mikami and if that doesn't give you reason enough to pick it up, we're not sure what will. This is a third-person survival horror that'll pull you into a nightmarish world populated by grotesque and frightening enemies. 

Now is a great time to pick this title up, too, as there's a sequel coming on October 13 2017 which will see its protagonist return in a new and sure to be equally as terrifying story. You can read everything we know about The Evil Within 2 right here. 

Photo Of The Day By Erick Castellon

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “All Along The Star Tower” by Erick Castellon. Location: Sand Harbor, Nevada.
Photo By Erick Castellon

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “All Along The Star Tower” by Erick Castellon. Location: Sand Harbor, Nevada.

“I used the app Photopills to get an idea where the Milky Way would be (I’m new using the app), and I positioned myself where it was going to line up over the rock,” explains Castellon. “However, I was off and had to move after the Milky Way started moving.”

Single shot, Canon 5D Mark IV, ISO 8000, 24-70mm 2.8 @30mm, F2.8, 20 sec. exposure.

Follow Erick on Instagram to see more of his photography.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including Assignments, Galleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Erick Castellon appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

Sony Alpha A7R III

The Alpha A7R III is Sony's latest high-resolution mirrorless camera, and an update of the excellent Alpha A7R II, which was responsible for tempting many a photographer away from the comfort of their Canon and Nikon DSLRs. 

This latest model looks to draw on many of the technologies used in the speed-orientated Sony Alpha A9, which is just as well, because with the likes of Nikon's brilliant D850 offering a tempting combination of high resolution and high performance the Alpha A7R II was beginning to look a little pedestrian. 

With some impressive boosts to performance, as well as tweaks to handling and the peace of mind of a five-year guarantee, could the new Alpha A7R III see even more secondhand Canon and Nikon DSLRs appearing on the shelves of camera stores as more photographers make the switch? 

Features

  • Full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, 42.2MP
  • 3,686K-dot electronic viewfinder with 100fps refresh rate
  • 3.0-inch tilt-angle screen, 1,440,000 dots

While many might have expected Sony to perhaps boost the amount of pixels to match or exceed DSLR rivals like the D850 and Canon EOS 5DS, it's actually opted to stick with the same count as the Alpha A7R II.

At the core of the A7R III then is a 42.2MP back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor, although Sony has borrowed some of the innovations from the 24.2MP Alpha A9 and integrated them with this more densely populated chip. 

There are gapless microlenses and a new anti-flare coating for starters, while the Alpha A7R III features a new front-end LSI that almost doubles the readout speed of the sensor. It also takes advantage of the latest BIONZ X image processing engine, and combined, these enhancements deliver a boost in processing speeds of up to 1.8 times compared to the A7R II. 

Sony says the Alpha A7R III has a staggering 15-stop dynamic range at low sensitivity settings

The A7R III's sensitivity range remains unchanged (ISO50-102,400 at the camera's expanded setting), so those hoping for something to match the Nikon D850's expanded ISO32 setting may be a little disappointed. However, the new processing engine should be able to handle image noise better than its predecessor, while Sony also claims the Alpha A7R III will have a staggering 15-stop dynamic range at low sensitivity settings. 

The Alpha A7R III has the same electronic viewfinder (EVF) as the Alpha A9, with the Quad-VGA OLED EVF sporting a resolution of approximately 3,686k dots, and utilizing a Zeiss T* Coating to reduce reflections. On top of this, the A7R III supports a customizable frame rate for the EVF, with options of either 60fps or 120fps, again matching the 120fps offered by the A9. 

Along with the EVF, the rear tilt-angle display has also been upgraded over the outgoing model; it now has a resolution of 1.44 million dots, and just as we've seen with recent models like the RX10 IV, offers touchscreen functionality. 

Also as in the Alpha A9, Sony has shunned the XQD card format (even though it's now the sole manufacturer of that format), instead opting for dual SD card slots on the Alpha A7R III, with only one of those supporting UHS-II type cards.

The Alpha A7R III offers 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) video capture, with the option to use either the full width of the sensor or Super 35mm format mode, with the latter using the full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 5K of information, and oversampling this to produce what promises to be even crisper footage. 

As well as this, the Alpha A7R III now features a new HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) profile that supports an Instant HDR workflow, allowing HDR (HLG) compatible TVs to play back 4K HDR footage, while both S-Log2 and S-Log3 are also available. 

If you want to shoot Full HD footage you can capture this at up to 120fps, while there are ports for both microphone and audio monitoring.

Build and handling

  • Magnesium alloy construction
  • Dust- and moisture-sealed
  • Weighs 657g

The look and feel of the Sony Alpha A7R III broadly follow the design of the A7R II, but there have been a couple of subtle changes. 

While it doesn't get the dedicated drive mode dial/focus mode selector that sits to the left of the EVF on the Alpha A9, it does get a similar multi-selector joystick for quicker AF point selection. There's also the addition of a dedicated AF-ON button for back-button focusing, again as on the Alpha A9. In fact, the rear of the camera mimics the control layout of the A9 – that means the A7R III gets an additional 'C3' custom button, while the rear scrollwheel is more pronounced, and less likely to be accidentally knocked.

They all combine to make the A7R III that much more useable and satisfying to shooting with

The body is s thicker than the A7R II, and fractionally slimmer than the A9, and features magnesium alloy top, front and rear covers as well as an internal frame. Sony has also increased the number of lens mount screws to six for enhanced durability, while all major buttons and dials are sealed, and there's sealing throughout the body to protect the A7R III from dust and moisture.

The changes may be modest, but they combine to make the A7R III that much more user-friendly and satisfying to shoot with. 

Autofocus

  • 399 phase-detection points
  • 425 contrast-detection points
  • Eye AF with enhanced tracking performace

Sony has breathed over the A7R III focusing system as well. The 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points remain (with 68% coverage of the frame), but Sony has bolstered the amount of contrast-detection AF points from 25 to 400. 

Sony reckons this overhaul should improve autofocus speed, delivering up to roughly two times faster AF speeds in low-light conditions, along with improved AF tracking performance. 

The Alpha A7R III can also focus in brightness levels as low as -3EV. When you consider that that's pretty much complete darkness, it's very impressive, although the D850's central AF point just edges it at -4EV.

The Alpha A7R III's Eye AF has also been enhanced, and now uses the same autofocus algorithms as the Alpha 9. This means that when the A7R III is in AF-C mode and with Eye-AF activated, the system should be able to continuously track and focus on your subject's eye, even if they look down or away from the camera.

When had a chance to test this out during our hands-on time with the camera, and we were really impressed. The A7R III managed to happily maintain focus on a subject in two challenging scenarios – while they were moving round the frame quickly, or looking down or away from the camera.

Performance

  • 10fps burst shooting
  • 5-axis image stabilization
  • 530-shot battery life

While the A7R II could only manage 5fps burst shooting, the enhanced processing power inside the Alpha A7R III sees the burst shooting rate double to 10fps, and that's with continuous AF/AE tracking. It can sustain this for up to 76 JPEG/raw images or 28 uncompressed 14-bit raw images. 

You have the option of using the A7R III's mechanical shutter to achieve this, or if you prefer, you can opt for the camera's electronic shutter for silent shooting. And, rather than having to impatiently wait while the camera writes large quantities of images to the card, it's still possible to use many of the A7R III's key functions.

The Alpha A7R III is kitted out with Sony's 5-axis optical image stabilization system, and this has been tweaked for the new camera to deliver a 5.5-stop shutter speed advantage, improving on the A7R II's 4.5-stop system. To reduce the risk of vibration and image blur, especially when shooting at 10fps, there's a new low-vibration shutter mechanism. 

One of the biggest complaints levelled at the A7R II was the poor battery life, with 270 shots possible if you were lucky. Sony has swapped out the W-series battery used in the A7R II and replaced it with its latest Z-series unit, and you can expect the A7R III to carry on shooting for 530 shots if you use the viewfinder, or 650 shots using the rear display. It's a welcome improvement, but still some way behind the likes of the Nikon D850's 1,840-shot rating. 

Image quality

  • ISO100-32,000, expandable to 50-102,400
  • 15-stop dynamic range
  • 14-bit raw shooting

We'll look at image quality in more depth when we get our hands on a final production sample and can take a close look at the raw files. For now, below are a selection JPEG files from our hands-on time with the Alpha A7R III.

Early verdict

If Nikon thought it was going to have it all its own way with the D850, it should think again. Sony has taken one of our favorite mirrorless cameras and bolstered the performance to make the new Alpha A7R III a much more capable and well-rounded offering.

The heady mix of high resolution and high performance is bound to help this camera appeal to an even broader range of photographers. We can't wait to get our hands on the A7R III for our full review.

  • The 10 best mirrorless cameras you can buy right now