I used to marvel at digital photo-real images and the work that went into them. I’m still amazed by computer graphics and how far computer modeling has come but nowadays I feel a little surge of admiration when I come across artwork that seems to be impeccable CGI and then find that it’s actually a physical object.
Dan Tobin Smith is a photographer based in the UK that specialises in highly elaborate still-life and product photography for commercial clients. His shots may look CG but they’re all made of physical objects that have been painstakingly arranged and painted. The art is coming up with these set-pieces and the real challenge is working out a way to light them. Some people would recognise the red and white image below as inspiration for the album art for Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3. You can see a nice little time-lapse video of the setup for that shot here.
On his portfolio you can also get at least a glimpse of the lighting setups that take these scenes and put them in an almost surreal dimension.