Printing or post processing is a separate and different skill-set to that of being a Photographer.
One of the skills of the advanced printer has is the enhancement of apparent depth in a photograph giving the picture a 3D feel on a two dimensional piece of paper.
This picture of a wooden gate with a tree in the background has more apparent depth front to back because only a moderate amount of Clarity (mid-tone contrast) was used globally and only the gate was sharpened by use of the Lightroom Sharpening Masking Slider.
The perception of depth to the human brain is all about edge definition. Edges closer to the eye are perceived as being sharper than those further away.
Therefore by not adding Clarity to the background, the tree in the top left hand corner looks further away that the gate which has contrast and sharpening added.
Apparent depth is also controlled by depth of field and the choice of lens.
A big hello to all the new followers of my little blog this week.
(c) Andy Beel FRPS 2012