While some forms of photography have been comparable to art, one thing that has always set it apart is that everything caught on film (or sensor) is real, with many photojournalists and newspapers shunning excessive image editing. But sometimes some works of photo manipulation are just so amazing that its hard not to give praise to the artist. For instance, Erik Johansson's digital artworks are probably at the top the Internet's most awesome Photoshop manipulations.
As a child, Johansson was more interested in drawing and sketching, and later on photography when he got his first camera as a teenager. He felt that it was a strange to begin with one art form where everything created is original and then move to another where everything created is real. When he took an interest in computers, he combined his three passions and the result is what you see here.
In order to create his impressive artworks, Johansson first takes several photographs of a scene that he likes. Some of his artworks may take several weeks to create, not because of the digital manipulation involved (which might take a few days), but because he selects different scenes to be included in only one work.
He doesn't use any stock photos, choosing to take his own photographs as he has more control of the lighting and angles. These two components are key as they help create the illusion of oneness in his images. He then finds the right areas where the individual photographs can intersect to form a seamless image.
Johansson always starts with a sketch of his first idea, but admits that the final product is always different from his initial thought, but in a good way.
With his digital manipulations, Johansson seeks to both create both the most realistic and unrealistic scene in one image. Unlike pure documentary photography where the objective is to capture moments (in the style of Henri Cartier-Bresson), Johnsson seeks to create ideas, and his Photoshop edits allow him to do just that.
More awesome Photoshop manipulations over at Erik Johansson's website. His TED Talk gives a good overview of how he creates his artworks. Be sure to check out his perspective illusions as well.