Community created Build Minecraft keep blowing people's minds and a new map created by user qwryzu is another impressive example of what is possible with many blogs. The building is called "Vales of Amoril" and is a personalized map of the continent with snow-capped mountains, dense forests, winding rivers and lush valleys. The level of detail qwryzu has added to the build is amazing, I had to do a double take to make sure it wasn’t a photograph.
On his Planet Minecraft page, qwryzu explains that the construction took them four months of work and a lot of practice through the other smaller maps they have created. They use the usual software for building Minecraft, World Machine and World Painter, but they include the detail that all the rivers were created by hand, which is impressive considering the patience.
The map can be downloaded and played for free, so I jumped on it to take a quick look. I zoomed around the snowy peaks and followed a river that twisted for a while, and sure enough if you want high enough it really looks like a photograph.
Building realistic landscapes in Minecraft is much harder than it sounds. Making things look natural is the hardest part, the scarcity of mountains, the curve of streams, trying to visualize the distribution of a forest, but qwryzu has done a wonderful job. I could come back later with something realistic Minecraft shaders have been enabled. Here are some more screenshots to enjoy.