Take it from people who take photos almost constantly: figuring out the finer points of manual photography can be tricky, especially for folks who rock that Auto mode all the time. That's why a new bit of software for the HTC Vive called Magic Hour seems like such a good idea. In exchange for $3.50 (and with the understanding the Steam Early Access title might be rough around edges), you're plopped onto a virtual pier and given an incredibly flexible camera and carte blanche to shoot as you please.
The camera's "viewfinder" is actually just a window that hangs in space in front of you, allowing you to see exactly what happens to your subject if you fiddle with shutter speed, ISO, aperture and more. You'll have shutter and aperture priority modes to play with, but really — you didn't swing by a virtual beach to play it safe, did you? For new or wannabe photographers, manual mode offers you the greatest level of control over the shots you take, and Magic Hour offers an idealized environment to get a feel for those myriad settings. After all, when's the last time you sauntered up to a seagull and took a photo, Pokemon Snap-style, without it screeching in your face and flying away?
Yeah, that's what we thought.
For more experienced photographers, Magic Hour offers a way simulate gear and glass that doesn't exist in the real world. Petapixel offers the example of a 6-150mm f/1.4 lens, which, had it actually existed in meatspace, would probably cost more than your car. As neat as all of this sounds, there are obviously some shortcomings to be aware of: the flow of time has stopped at dusk, you only get one camera, and there are only about a dozen objects to shoot. Still, this is yet another VR experience to keep an eye on — The developer, Wolf in Motion, has promised more cameras to come, not to mention new worlds and a multiplayer mode.