Photograph or painting?

Rubie Edmondson

Think you can tell the difference between a painting and a photo? Think again. Using complex lighting techniques, photographers can shoot images that wouldn't look out of place in a Van Gogh collection.

Photographer Frans Lanting was on assignment for National Geographic in Namibia when he captured this dream-like photo of a mountainous sand dune. The dune's red sands glow orange in the morning sun, with white grasses dotting the landscape. The desert floor takes on an eerie blue cast from the reflection of the sky above.

Slideshow: More surreal images from Namibia's sand dunes

Frans Lanting/National Geographic

You can read more about the techniques Lanting used to take the photograph on National Geographic's website. The full story and more images are also available on the website, or in the June 2011 issue of National Geographic Magazine.