I've seen effect used by a number of photographers and although I'm not sure I like it, I'm interested in understanding how it was achieved.

enter image description here

  • Sorry I can't more more descriptive in the title. I'm not sure what this effect is even called. Any insights will help me rephrase similar questions in the future. Jun 24 '14 at 21:23
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    What effect are you talking about? There are several things that could be broken down from any photo. I'm guessing you mean the color, but perhaps you're interested in the background, the square in the eyes, the expression, the detail in the hat? We need more information. Jun 24 '14 at 22:46
  • Dan, the saturation and tonal quality. Does the photo look normal to you? Or does it look processed? I'm interested in the processed look. Jun 25 '14 at 0:41
  • Carlos - I'm glad you asked this question - I'm looking forward to the responses. Would you consider widening your question to include lighting set-up and camera settings, too? I think you'll see that the studio set-up will play a role, too.
    – B Shaw
    Jun 25 '14 at 3:21
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    I would suggest that the most obvious thing done here is the studio lighting, maybe 4 or 5 I count. Beyond that I see a lot of localized contrast especially in the midtones. The shirt also makes me wonder if they used multiple exposures but the skin certainly doesn't look like that.
    – dpollitt
    Jun 25 '14 at 3:34

As dpollitt suggests, this photographer has overcooked the local contrast in the midtones of their image. In Adobe speak, this is what the "clarity" slider achieves in Lightroom/Photoshop, and in more generic terms it is what you get if you apply a high pass filter to an image and perform low radius sharpening.

Here's an image I sourced through googling for "portrait" with zero, middling and maximum levels of clarity applied in Lightroom:

enter image description here

These are both higher than I would personally choose to boost local contrast, but this sort of look (often achieved with appropriate lighting as well as darkroom techniques) is certainly a popular one at the moment.

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