A very good trick to improve shadow detail in an image without blowing out highlights is to use a Contrast Mask. You can do this in any image editor that supports layers and blending modes. Paint.NET and Gimp are good free ones that can easily do this. It's basically a 4-step process. It also works in video if your video editor supports multiple tracks and blending modes. A good free one is Aviutl.
1) Duplicate layer with image or video.
2) De-saturate (turn black and white) overlaying layer.
3) Invert colors on overlaying layer and switch blending mode to "Overlay".
4) Apply a Gaussian blur to the overlaying layer to bring back sharpness.
I made the before/after image in Paint.net and video in Aviutl:
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Last edited by racer-x; 15th Jul 2015 at 20:46.Got my retirement plans all set. Looks like I only have to work another 5 years after I die........