Digital cameras have a problem with high contrast light. When there are intense light and deep shadows in a scene (Image 1 & 2 above), the dynamic range can be too high for the camera to capture. The human eye can see detail in very dark areas and very bright regions while the camera has to be exposed for one or the other.
If the camera tries to hold the detail in the shadow areas, it can easily 'blow' the highlights, meaning little or no detail is recorded. If highlights become blown, then it can mean that, no matter what you do, the software will not be able to recover what the camera failed to capture in the first place.
Stay wholly in the sun, or entirely in the shadows
On a bright sunny day, probably the best thing to do is try to stay in the blazing sun, or entirely in the shade. While it is possible to do some work on the computer, the best thing is not to have to do it.
If using Raw files, Adobe Camera Raw can help
The 'Develop Module' in Lightroom is actually Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). This means you have many of the same sliders as you do in ACR in Photoshop and Elements. In the 'Basic Panel' with this software (the first panel), you will see a slider for 'Highlights' and one for 'Shadows.'
If you have a problem image, try to move the Highlights slider to the left, and the Shadows slider to the right (Image 3 & 4, left).
Raw files hold much more detail and can be helpful in high contrast situations. However, even Raw files may not help in very high contrast situations.
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