Set them free

I created “A painting too real” 4 years ago, I had several ideas on how I could realize it but I was limited by my knowledge and experience. I’ve learned a lot over the past years regarding lighting, camera and post production and I felt it was time for another version. This is not part II, it’s just a different take on the initial idea.

To me it was important that the painting/frame would be the center point of attention in the frame. I knew that it was very important to get the “water-out-of-the-painting-effect” as realistic as possible and the best way to make something look realistic is to actually do it for real. I also decided to crop the head to remove the distraction of a possible face expression and put more focus on what was happening to the painting. I bought a frame in a second hand store and removed the back of it. I then built a small space/container behind the frame using paper, plastic and duct tape. The idea was to be able to actually pour water out of the frame. I covered the bottom part with plastic to hold the water and placed a flash with a warm filter and a radio trigger in the upper part of the frame to create a sun. Check out a larger version of the final photo in the portfolio here.

the frame

the frame

light test
I tried it out a couple of times to see that I worked that way I expected and then it was ready for the shoot.

water test
At the location, a soft light was used as a fill light in the foreground.

at the location
I shot both some model- and real boats in different lights depending on where they would be placed in the final photo.

shooting boat modelsshooting boatsshooting boats
The actual painting was created in post where I shot a sunrise with the sun in the same location as the flash in the frame construction.

landscape in painting
The result, have a look at a larger version of the final photo in the portfolio here.

The final result

These are 100 % crops of the different parts of the photo:


“All the rowboats” by Regina Spektor could be the soundtrack of this photo:


  • gnignigni

    you’re FA BU LOUS!!!

  • Susanne Modigh

    You’re the best!

  • Dagmar

    incredible talent … you are indeed fabulous :)

  • thomasmburu

    Brilliant!  ”  I also decided to crop the head to remove the distraction of a possible face expression and put more focus on what was happening to the painting “

  • Ina irene Romano

    Interesting to see how your picture come thrue.You are very good.

  • Donna Norman Carbone

    I am so in awe of your work. I have the fish/house print hanging on my wall & I LOVE it every day!! Thank you :)

  • Jasmine

    Wow. I am so amazed. So inspired. And so encouraged! It’s great to actually see the hard work you put into this. It really means a lot to aspiring retouch artists like myself! You have no idea what this post means to me!

    Thank you for all you do! Please keep posts like this coming. Seeing what happens behind the scenes helps me understand that I, too, can one day be great.

    Maybe not as great as you, but close! Haha

    It just takes A LOT of time, patience, practice, innovation, and imagination!

     Thank you!! You’re an inspiration to us all!

  • Rikard

    Kul att se lite bakgundsbilder! snyggt jobbat!

  • Katy Luis

    amazing work

  • Rafael Arrais

    This picture is amazing, I’ve found it over Facebook walls, without credits to the author. It took a while, but I’ve found you. Congratulations, this image is almost hermetic :) –raph

  • Yousra Mohammad

    I Like Your Photos alot and always remember you words : (( It’s more about copturing Idea than copturing Image ))
    But I find it kind difficult to watch your videos because my area isn’t supported ,, try to solve this :)
    Best wishes :)

  • Northwind009

    I am not a photographer but a lawyer but I am also so much amazed.

  • Sila Mahmud

    amazing!! great to see the amazing work of great experienced art directors!!

  • Lucas

    Thanks for sharing how you make your amazing pictures!

  • Rodneylogsdon

    I truly enjoy your work. I was just wondering how you go about getting your ideas for the projects you work on? 

  • pellepiano

    Fantastiskt arbete.

  • Sarahwalton1

    Your pictures are truly incredible and show a great mind and great skill.

  • Huolinliang

    So cool,you realize so many excellent ideas!

  • antonio

    Impresionante trabajo, felicidades

  • Mohammed Saker

    very good

  • Hwang YeonKyeong

    I love it*.*!!

  • pixelBender67


  • Linemor

    This must be the most “NATURAL” looking art/”live motion art”,that I ve EVER seen..! I grew up with a GREAT photographer,xact-studies teacher,painter and sculptor,and he experimented with almost everything,even avocado`s,every day.. :P YOU ARE REALLY SPECIAL,managing to get your “ideas” and fantasies,OUT of your head,and being so fantasticly clever to “give them LIFE”. Because..THAT`s what ALL your pictures,films,etc.has..LIFE..!! And,that captures your public`s minds,in a truly special way. THANK YOU,for the “experience” it is to see your work. WOW!

  • aashish udash

    Someone has said “what u do does not matter but how u do. Do it at fullest, make it total effort.”
    I luv ur work N ur effort behind.

  • GT G

    Amazing work. I’m not normally a fan of highly retouched work, but yours is beautiful.

    • Rich

      @GT G: “I’m not normally a fan of highly retouched work…”

      That’s what many people say, (including my poor, art-starved, sister-in-law). But like I’ve tried to explain to her, it’s about the art, not the photo. Someone see’s & buys an image/artwork that they really like and after framing it, hangs it on their wall. A year later, they find out that the image was manipulated, takes it down and throws it out. Would that make sense when it was the art that they liked?

      Many years ago I remember an art teacher of mine saying that “art should tell a story”. I never did agree with her on that point but that said, all too often, people who are just starting out in photography make two mistakes right off the bat, (I include myself here). They choose to be a “Wildlife” photographer, and they start shooting what I call “archival” wildlife ‘records’.

      Wildlife photography is very difficult and exceptionally competitive as to be almost unrealistic if chosen as a career form. The competition is fierce and that’s when you look at the best work done in the category. Those that have a name in it are experts with many years of experience. It’s not unusual to find that many who are/were successful had been the apprentice/hired hand of an expert for years before they actually began to have success.

      But the point is that many people who HAVE been shooting wildlife for years and are not getting many “ooo’s & wow’s” from their work just don’t understand that they’re shooting very typical, “archival-like” shots of their subject that’s been done already by the Smithsonian and the Audubon Society, (to name just two). If you want to see what the true colors and shades of a “Blue Footed Booby” are and you can’t go see it in person, my first recommendation would be to get the field guides from either of those two sources.

      Many amateurs will show a massive collection of their prints and seem to never realize that the prints are ‘field guide knock-offs’ and not only have been done many, many times, but in most cases, the ‘Big S’ and/or ‘A’ had done them better, (as far as archival field guides are concerned).

      We’ve all seen a really, really good picture of a landscape, or building, etc., in a magazine or on-line gallery and somewhere in the pictures description the photographer, (often an aspiring unknown), has written “no post work done” or some other statement indicating that they had not used photo editing software to get that image. My favorite is: “in-camera post only”. I always have to chuckle when I read that, (or any variation therein), in the description.

      And as I continue reading the photographers notes on the image, I almost always find that they’ve listed the specs of their equipment used in that shot including two or three different flashes, gels, Shutter speeds & F-stops and any number of lens filters as well! And often they make the whole thing even funnier when the lens they used was a 10mm Fisheye, or one of those little ‘crazy’ lenses that are getting a lot of popularity these days, (though the real “crazy” thing about them is their price!).

      So my point here is obvious, they’re manipulating that image in some way that would be otherwise NEVER seen without the alterations, filters, and ‘Photoshop’s’, (“in camera” or otherwise). Hell, even the F-Stop, & shutter speed will act significantly on the outcome.

      Experts with film cameras have been manipulating photos since the camera was born. Simply screwing on a ND filter to the lens is a form of alteration and any variation from the “True” lighting of the subject is as much an alteration as anything else.

      But why are they so concerned about it? If the image they present is unique and has many very fine attributes about it, it’ll speak for itself. I’m not going to like that image any more or any less because I now know that the photographer didn’t use the ND filter in his or her software but instead, used the ND filter they had in their camera bag, why would I?

      The only time this plays a part in the piece is when the piece is presented as a submission in a photo contest or similar event. And really, the event in question would have already made the requirements known ahead of time so even then, there wouldn’t be a need to state this.

      In one photo competition I had entered years back, the people who ran the event permitted digital images and this was when digital photography was still very new. I didn’t know they were going to permit that and was not happy about it. I was against it then, and I’m against it now.

      The two mediums should never be permitted in a standard photo competition if the goal is to judge the skill, imagination, resourcefulness and ‘eye’ of the photographer by viewing the ‘straight-from-camera’ image. But other than that kind of scenario, the manipulation of the image is and always will be irrelevant because it’s always about the art. At least, if you’re an artist first, it is.

      If you had a Renoir and years later found out that he painted that piece with a 5” wide, nylon bristle, ‘house-painters’ brush, (yes, yes, I know they didn’t have Nylon back then, just roll with it), and used a 2″ paint scraper for a pallet knife, would that make any difference to how much you liked the piece? If anything, it would probably increase the value but the monetary value of any art is not in question, it’s about the art itself.

      I should point out that I’m not a photographer; I’m an artist that begins much of my graphic art work with a camera but strictly as a tool among many. Some of my stuff is good and some sucks. Some people like it, and some hate it… But that’s what art is all about so always create what YOU like and not what you think others will.

      Oh, and BTW Erik; That is a great piece! But then I like a lot of the pieces I’ve seen in your gallery!

  • Eva

    I just write an essay about this picture :) Hope I’ll get a good mark :D

  • erica lyn


  • Maarten

    I love the idea, I love the photo’s. I love the the way you retouched them and put the elements in composition, great you have yet another fan of your work

  • kaduzy

    I love this picture and appreciate reading the background info on it. It was my desktop background for many months. Thank you so much!

  • Sachin Gulwane

    nice work…

  • leah


  • eric

    淡定 翻下去就可以了

  • Anthony

    That is absolutely mesmerizing… Kudos to you:)

  • Mésonnier

    Superbe , “:Il faut ouvrir la cage au x bateaux!” come on doit ouvrir la cage aux oiseaux … Je ‘ai pas tout compris mais le résultat est un émerveillement

  • Traci

    I’m in love with your work, where do you come up with ideas like this? Do you have any tips or anything for creating photos such as this? I’m 14 and I recently started taking photo’s like this. I have my own blog we started for english, if you’d check out some of my photos that’d be great!

  • Sherwin

    WOW. soooooo AMAZING!

  • June

    You were given a wonderful gift. Love your creations! Keep your imagination working with something so awesome.