Here is the technique I use when I want my pictures to really jump out with detail and boldness. It requires Photoshop but only 2 really easy steps. I’ve used on Photoshop CS4 but I’m relatively sure these are common abilities for most of the recent releases. I’ve found that it works well on architectural pictures as well as some portraits if you’re going for a bit more of a gritty detailed look. With minor tweaks it can even start to look like some of the High Dynamic Range photography that’s out there.
My example is a picture that I posted previously and one that suited this technique well. The photos that I shared are from an old sawmill here in Boise and can be seen here.
Open the picture in photoshop.
Duplicate the layer and change the new layers’ transfer mode to “Hard Light”.
This alone adds some great contrast to the image and if it is too much you can always play with the layer opacity to get the right amount for your picture.
Duplicate your new layer and select Filters > Other > High Pass.
This is where all the detail comes shining through.
As I mentioned, playing with the layer opacity can ease up some of the detail or contrast effects if it seems too much. Experimentation is where all the fun is at so run wild and see what comes of it.