There are so many different ways to adjust an image in Photoshop: Curves, Levels, Brightness/Contrast and more. CS5 introduces one more way to adjust images: HDR Toning. HDR toning can be used to create artistic photographic effects but applied at low settings on high contrast images it works to preserve highlight detail while illuminating the shadow detail.
- Open your image in Photoshop. Select Image > Adjustment > HDR Toning.
- Set the Method to Local Adaption (it may already be set on this setting). Tip: if the saturation default is high, set it to 0 first and then adjust the rest of the settings.
- If you want your adjustments to look realistic, keep the settings low and don't make drastic adjustments. For this specific image, I used: Radius 50px, Strength .50, Gamma 1.14, Exposure 0, Detail +30, Shadow, +10, Highlight -20, Vibrance 0, Saturation 0.
- Click on the down arrow by Toning Curve and Histogram and make any necessary Curve adjustments.
- If artistic/drastic adjustments is what you're looking for, go wild. Making major adjustments in the HDR toning settings will yield images like this:
Thanks to sxc.hu user mossholder for the photo