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Dealing with reality by using a painting effect

Tutorial led by Editor Michel Romaggi on 'Lungo le mura della città' in collaboration with the author Raffaele Corte
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 12th of July 2022


'Lungo le mura della città'


Some of the images from Raffaele Corte, like this one, are treated like paintings. The textures and movement effects, the colours, the contrasts make them quite remarkable works and triggered my curiosity longing to know the creation secrets. Rafaelle kindly agreed to answer my questions.

Can you tell us something about this location?
Lungo le mura della città' was taken in Tarquinia, one of the oldest and most important Etruscan settlements in Lazio, almost 100 km from Rome. This town holds the charm and memory of centuries of history. The title shows this charm reflected in the medieval walls and towers. But I want to tell you a little secret about this photo.  I took the picture of the two persons in Warsaw and the clouds in the background are a sky taken in Rome. These clippings were inserted later to give a greater impetus to the composition.

How do you usually choose your subjects?
Answering this question is very hard since the subjects often choose me in stead of me choosing them. I am persuaded they look for me to be interpreted according to my vision of reality. Establishing whether a subject has the characteristics to become part of my personal reality is my only contribution.
After having a picture in mind and the possible result, I take it. When I think the subject has expressive potential, I immediately try to imagine how to handle it in the post-processing. This is what happened when I was taking this picture.




Under what circumstances did you take this photo to get such great light and colours?
Although this moment of the day is not recommended because of the harsh sunlight and its position, I took it at noon. The light from above was minimizing the shadows and was crushing the volume of the buildings. To create a dreamlike effect, spring colour saturation was lightened in post-production.


What equipment do you use?
I work with a Nikon D500 body equipped with a 16-70mm zoom. I also can use a second mirror less body and lenses from 10 to 300mm.  It all depends of the type of environment or  the subjects I do hope to meet. Since I don't take action photos, I always have the time to choose the best lens for my project.


'Una coppia'


How do you manage to achieve this "painting" effect in many of  your works (post processing flow)?
Actually, this is indeed an effect that I use very often, and it gives me a lot of satisfaction.
I open the image in Cyberlink PhotoDirector and duplicate the original. Than I use different layers, working on each of them in a specific way (blur, stretch, movement). For example, a layer can be characterized by a vertical motion blur, one by a horizontal motion, and another by an oblique motion. To obtain a mixed movement I overlap the various layers and erase some parts from each of them.
Of course, there are no rules for doing it: you have to rely on the characteristics of the main subject and especially on your own taste. To finish the processing, I also insert a level with the original contrasted image. I partially make it transparent and delete all the secondary parts to create the “punctum”, the focus of attention. If I want to have particular backgrounds, like the sky, I can delete entire parts on each level, (I have a large sky collection!). 
I also can insert external elements, such as people or objects. This operation often creates surreal results that I love very much. Finally, depending on the type of subject, I can insert scratches or dirty filters between one level and another to give the resulting drama and material consistency.
"Lungo le mura della città" is spread over seven different levels!


To end this tutorial, can you tell us something about yourself?  How did you come photography?
In my family, art has always been a point of reference. As my father was a good painter and also had a passion for photography, I had always to deal with photographic equipment and materials.
After school, I used to work as a photographer - advertising and architecture. When I started to work, I abandoned photography and equipment for a few years until I discovered the infinite potential of digital photography.

With renewed passion, I took back cameras and lenses to dedicate myself to the artistic research of shape and colour in photography. I publish my works on various platforms, like and on my website




via the interview I saw a link to this tutorial explaining your workflow, I find such work is fantastic. my compliments for this fine work.
Un grande congratulazione per Raffaele. Dietro di un capolavoro, come tutte le fotografie presentate in questo bell'articolo c'e tanta fantasia e lavoro. Complimenti.
Grazie mille, cara Isabella (e scusa per il ritardo di questa risposta)
Ammiro molto i tuoi lavori ed il tuo grande senso artistico, complimenti davvero.
Grazie di cuore!
I was really looking forward to this report with Raffael. I've always admired his work, but I didn't know the way he takes these great pictures. Thank you very much Raffaelle and Yvette !
Thank you, dear Zsoka. Enjoy painting effect you too!
Very creative, very interesting work.
Thank you very much, dear Francisco!
I particularly like these images because they remain in the realm of photography and are not gratuitous, for the sake of effects . In terms of semantics, an image being "painterly" is somehow labeled as less photographic and more like an easily made canvas painting. There are in this portfolio little jewels - stories and feelings of the world that we love to discover
A great comment for my little work. Thanks a lot dear Mariuca!
Thank you for sharing your vision and technique!
My pleasure, dear Elisabeth!
Fascinating creative process. Intriguing and powerful images. Congratulations.
I'm glad you like my work. Thanks!
Susi PRO
Que artículo tan interesante!! Muchas gracias por compartir sus conocimientos y su excelente trabajo. Saludos.
Grazie a te per questo bel commento!
Molto interessante tutta la spiegazione e splendide le tue opere!
Grazie mille!
Thank you, dear Michel! Thank you, dear Yvette!...
You are welcome. Thank you for sharing.
Beautiful work , congratulations
Thank you, dear Anita!
Impressive work! Thank you for showing and for the explanation.
My pleasure, dear Uwe!
Deeply interesting, thank you. Great compositions, marvelous colors and great paintings (?!). My compliments.
I'm glad you like them, dear Roberto!