To make it easier to view the effects I have put four frames in an animated GIF file. The reduction to 256 colours doesn't do much damage here because of the limited colour palette of the image.
The first frame and the lightest is the original. Rather overexposed.
The second has a very effective 'quick fix' applied. A single adjustment in the histogram with the slider on the right as shown in the screen capture (from Paint Shop Pro). Just sliding it down to minus 15 generates the second frame. The nice thing is that it doesn't affect the 'blistering sun' feel of the image because especially the brightest parts are unaffected which other histogram settings will affect. It produces a quite acceptable result. Let's say perhaps 85% of the achievable result with a single change. It's an image you could 'live with'. It doesn't recover the blown out details mainly in lower parts of the rock face and the sand in the foreground. There is not very much detail there but it can be improved.
The third is done by adjusting four parameters. No midtone expansion. Here the low point is raised to +41, Gamma lowered to 0.74 and loss in brightness and contrast by these are compensated for with settings of B+20 and C+20. With four parameters there are already a sheer endless amount of variations in which you can apply them. There is a noticeable recovery of the blown out highlights in the lower part of the image. Mostly in the rock face. In order to recover more detail in the sand more HDR like manipulations would probably be in order if you have a RAW image.
In the fourth frame on top of the four changes I added a small amount of midtone expansion of -2. I guess there is a considerable amount of personal preference that will determine which histogram settings you'll like most in the end result. But many of the images you posted here could be improved by making some changes there.
(Edit - Typo)
Last edited by Cam-I-Am on Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.