Newbie here. I see pictures like this http://imgur.com/gallery/lcRQN or
It feels like there's a matte effect or filter of some sort added on top here. Am I correct in assuming that? If so, how do I go about in recreating this?
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Reduce the black point. Its easiest to understand this in Lab. In Photoshop we can use a Threshold adjustment layer to make sure we find the darkest point. The left side is the actual colors.
To make it more clear, I'll get rid of the threshold now that we know we have the right spot:
Notice the L is up at 13, black would be 0. This is the main thing you're seeing.
To do this on your image you'll use a Curves adjustment. You want to raise the black point up (or down depending on settings). If you want you could punch a little color into it as well:
While there might be some post-processing applied to this image, this is more an example of dynamic range in the scene than any sort of effects applied.
There are two very different levels of lighting involved here: the outdoor pre-sunset lighting, and the indoors lighting. Even in the late-day hours, just at the beginning of golden hour, the light level outside the terminal is so much much brighter than the light level inside the terminal, that the only things visible inside are the actual light sources (3 lumieres) and surfaces with strong specular reflection.
The difference between the brightest brights and darkest darks, or dynamic range, in this scene is much more than camera sensors or film can reproduce, by several stops. This is a perfect example of where high dynamic range (HDR) imaging is often used: one or more underexposed images to get the details in the outdoors scene, and one or more overexposed images to get the details in the indoors scene, combined. HDR imaging would result in more useful exposure across the entire scene (see also: How to photograph a room showing both room & view out a window?)
This type of shot (sans HDR) has created many iconic scenes, both in photography and in cinema. My favorite example is the famous "doorway shot" from John Ford's The Searchers, or homages to it such as in Inglourious Basterds and many others: