1) Use Photoshop Elements to adjust the Levels of the photograph using Smart Fix, Auto Levels, or Levels.
2) Use Photoshop Elements to burn and dodge.
3) If your photograph was saved using a raw file format, use your raw converter to make adjustments.
You can also process JPEG files with the raw converter.
4) Use software, such as Shadow Recovery Pro.
Contrast isn't always detrimental to your photographs.