This isn't a postcard or a promotional shot for the Union Pacific Railroad. It's a picture taken within Grand Theft Auto V by a professional photographer looking for the beauty of Los Santos and Blaine County instead of taking crass selfies and vulgar crotch-shots.
Phil Rose, a photographer with more than two decades' worth of experience, specializes in landscapes. He's also a dedicated gamer. GTA V's snapshot feature, through the game's smartphone, appealed to both interests, resulting in some legitimately beautiful images and a Flickr group he set up to share them.
"Considering that almost all the images that are being uploaded to Rockstar's servers are currently selfies, or crotch shots of women on the beach, or dead deer, I think trying to do something a bit more interesting is, well, interesting," Rose remarked.
Rose, whose studio is in Washington state, has visited the real world counterparts of some GTA-styled landmarks—the Salton Sea, Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley among them. So he already had an eye for how he wanted to frame the rugged features of Blaine County.
Los Santos gets several nice closeups, too, as you can see in this shot of the ferris wheel at Pleasure Pier. Rose said he's tried to capture the scenes in different weather and at different times of day, finding the size of the map to offer nearly infinite opportunity for the perfect shot.
"It seems that if you shoot an image at night, the image becomes grainier, which has to be deliberate on Rockstar's part," Rose said. An in-game camera would have no need to slow down its shutter speed, after all.
So if the game's makers are encouraging folks to do some serious photography, well, why not? Rose's Flickr group "Landscape photographers of Los Santos and Blaine County" has many more images for you to peruse, and is open if you'd like to join.
Or, share your best images in the discussions below. Yes, we know people have all sorts of wacky shots—let's share those another time. For now, channel your inner coffeehouse shutterbug, and give us your best panoramas.