How to Create Impossible Images: Erik Johansson

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Got a spare 6 minutes? Here’s photographers Erik Johansson presenting at TED about his ‘Impossible Photography’.

Erik combines photos together to create surreal yet realistic images. In the video he shares his rules of doing it.

View more of Erik’s Imagery at his site

What do you think?

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Alex

    A lot of the shots (compositions?) remind me a lot of M.C. Escher’s work. Very similar in making something that can’t exist appear completely believable.

  • I think that I don’t have the patience for that, but the images are really stinkin’ cool!!

  • jim

    The guy is amazing. Creativity off the charts and the skill to pull that off.

  • Average Joe

    That’s sooooo cool! I can’t even begin to comprehend the details of how this was done. This guy is truly brilliant! Amazing.

  • I admire the amount of work he puts into making his images.

  • Barry E.Warren

    Very good, something I’ll have to give a go at. Now to come up with a wild idea and make it happen.

  • Oh man, Erik’s work has always connected with me very well! We share the same values creating artwork that is photorealistic but also unrealistic if it were to be seen in reality. To me, those types of images are the best ones that exist!

  • raghavendra
  • Wow, awesome! Such unique ideas. Thanks for the video.

  • Aperture Ray

    Very very talented but tell us something we don’t already know- yes, it comes down to planning and matching to make the composite seamless. Did he need to give a presentation to say just that? 🙂

    The only thing helpful was seeing the photos he used to make the composite- however, what he should have been talking about was how they were constructed and normalized in photoshop.

  • Alejandrox Lopez

    I just say… I loved the last phrase!… “The only thing that limit us is… our imagination”… this is awesome.. thks for sharing with us =):

  • Nice Sloog

    Sorry, but I have seen all this before (Escher?) He was a real genius!!

    Some of the compositions look more like ilustrations than photographs… That takes away a little of the “real thing” feel for me.

    Good work anyway, just not very impressed 😀

  • moonshot

    Very nice job but if it surprises you certainly you must google for Escher, Magritte, Dalì and even Storm Thorgerson for a start.

  • Jim Manning

    If you put M.C. Escher and Dan Hill together, you get Johansson.

  • Fantastic! He must have crazy mad skills in Photoshop!

  • Erik’s images are simply amazing. As he said, it comes down to planning, but I don’t think I will ever get to his skill level, or have his imagination or patience. It would have been nice if he gave an example of exactly how he created one of the images rather than just showing the various photos he used in a composition, but I guess that would be another video entirely.

  • gordon fulton

    Hi Darren, Really enjoy your weekly tips.

    ? for you??? I’m playing with bracketing on my G12 and Photomatix HDR

    What do I set my aperture at for the 3 pictures or use P and let it happen???

  • Hapatography

    That’s why I love modern technology (well, some of it). I was always into photography and wanted to take images of what I imagined. Now I do and he does too <3

  • n.ann beck

    loved it–“the only thing that limits us is imagination”

  • god… he’s amazing… now i want to try it…

  • chloe

    how do you do it we need to know for out school work? 🙂

  • Hans van der Boom

    This guy is fantastic. It is not the techniques. those come in second place. To me it is the idea, the originality which is the real achievement.

Some Older Comments

  • AnnaRaine April 16, 2012 02:48 am

    god... he's amazing... now i want to try it...

  • n.ann beck March 8, 2012 04:47 pm

    loved it--"the only thing that limits us is imagination"

  • Hapatography February 29, 2012 12:44 pm

    That's why I love modern technology (well, some of it). I was always into photography and wanted to take images of what I imagined. Now I do and he does too <3

  • gordon fulton February 29, 2012 09:30 am

    Hi Darren, Really enjoy your weekly tips.

    ? for you??? I'm playing with bracketing on my G12 and Photomatix HDR

    What do I set my aperture at for the 3 pictures or use P and let it happen???

  • Digitalphotos101 February 29, 2012 08:27 am

    Erik's images are simply amazing. As he said, it comes down to planning, but I don't think I will ever get to his skill level, or have his imagination or patience. It would have been nice if he gave an example of exactly how he created one of the images rather than just showing the various photos he used in a composition, but I guess that would be another video entirely.

  • Adam February 28, 2012 11:30 am

    Fantastic! He must have crazy mad skills in Photoshop!

  • Jim Manning February 27, 2012 02:56 pm

    If you put M.C. Escher and Dan Hill together, you get Johansson.

  • moonshot February 25, 2012 01:12 am

    Very nice job but if it surprises you certainly you must google for Escher, Magritte, Dalì and even Storm Thorgerson for a start.

  • Nice Sloog February 24, 2012 11:37 pm

    Sorry, but I have seen all this before (Escher?) He was a real genius!!

    Some of the compositions look more like ilustrations than photographs... That takes away a little of the "real thing" feel for me.

    Good work anyway, just not very impressed :D

  • Alejandrox Lopez February 24, 2012 03:25 am

    I just say... I loved the last phrase!... "The only thing that limit us is... our imagination"... this is awesome.. thks for sharing with us =):

  • Aperture Ray February 23, 2012 05:20 am

    Very very talented but tell us something we don't already know- yes, it comes down to planning and matching to make the composite seamless. Did he need to give a presentation to say just that? :)

    The only thing helpful was seeing the photos he used to make the composite- however, what he should have been talking about was how they were constructed and normalized in photoshop.

  • Carlee February 22, 2012 02:40 pm

    Wow, awesome! Such unique ideas. Thanks for the video.

  • raghavendra February 22, 2012 02:26 pm

    planning ,light , imagination does it all!

    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/2012/02/wall-painting-of-day-and-night.html

  • Evan Sharboneau February 22, 2012 12:19 pm

    Oh man, Erik's work has always connected with me very well! We share the same values creating artwork that is photorealistic but also unrealistic if it were to be seen in reality. To me, those types of images are the best ones that exist!

  • Barry E.Warren February 22, 2012 02:29 am

    Very good, something I'll have to give a go at. Now to come up with a wild idea and make it happen.

  • hubblefromthesun February 21, 2012 05:25 pm

    I admire the amount of work he puts into making his images.

  • Average Joe February 21, 2012 04:38 pm

    That's sooooo cool! I can't even begin to comprehend the details of how this was done. This guy is truly brilliant! Amazing.

  • jim February 21, 2012 10:24 am

    The guy is amazing. Creativity off the charts and the skill to pull that off.

  • Erin @ Pixel Tips February 21, 2012 07:03 am

    I think that I don't have the patience for that, but the images are really stinkin' cool!!

  • Alex February 21, 2012 06:38 am

    A lot of the shots (compositions?) remind me a lot of M.C. Escher's work. Very similar in making something that can't exist appear completely believable.

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