Ray Tracing with POV-Ray is a excellent way to create photo-realistic images on a computer. In order to create an image you must describe (in text) what shapes you want and where you want 'em. If you aren't comfortable with the text interface you can use one of many, less powerful, interactive modellers. You can assign objects textures and pigments, finishes or normals. There is no limit as to what you can create. POV-Ray is the best raytracer for Windows and the best part is that it is FREE! You can download it @ www.povray.org
There is one drawback; it's not fast. POV mathematically traces rays of light, bouncing them off one object to another. This reqires millions of floating point operations and can take a long time, even on some of today's fastest machines. Although the process can take a long time, the results make it all worth while.