Here is a little techniques I have been using extensively lately to enhance local contrast vs. global contrast, using the great color to gray tool. It is fairly easy and fast.
Starting point, a picture with strong global contrast
Duplicate the layer and desaturate it (copy this also into your channles stack for easy acces as mask). Invert the desaturated layer and set it to overlay mode. this will minimize global contrast (and also local contrast). Here is the result setting it to an opacity of around 50%.
Duplicate the original image again and apply the color to gray (C2G). Set this layer in overlay mode, this will bring back all the local contrast you want (actually too much). Apply a luminosity mask (remember the last step) to this layer. With the curves tool on the mask select the areas where you want the local contrast to be strongest. I roughly selected the darks without totally deselecting the lighter parts. I then set the opacity of the layer to around 50%.
Here is the direct comparison between starting point and what we have done up to now:
Now you have a globally flatter image with all the local contrast you want. This is a great starting point to add vignetting and placing things in the foreground that weren’t there in the beginning. Here’s an example of what I came up with just adding some more saturation and a bilateral gradient in soft light mode:
Hope this inspires you…