We describe a portable unattended persistent surveillance system that corrects for harsh illumination conditions, where bright sun light creates mixed contrast effects, i.e., heavy shadows and washouts. These effects result in high dynamic range scenes, where illuminance can vary from few luxes to a 6 figure value. When using regular monitors and cameras, such wide span of illuminations can only be visualized if the actual range of values is compressed, leading to the creation of saturated and/or dark noisy areas and a loss of information in these areas. Images containing extreme mixed contrast cannot be fully enhanced from a single exposure, simply because all information is not present in the original data. The active intervention in the acquisition process is required. A software package, capable of integrating multiple types of COTS and custom cameras, ranging from Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) data links to digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLR), is described. Hardware and software are integrated via a novel smart data acquisition algorithm, which communicates to the camera the parameters that would maximize information content in the final processed scene. A fusion mechanism is then applied to the smartly acquired data, resulting in an enhanced scene where information in both dark and bright areas is revealed. Multi-threading and parallel processing are exploited to produce automatic real time full motion corrected video. A novel enhancement algorithm was also devised to process data from legacy and non-controllable cameras. The software accepts and processes pre-recorded sequences and stills, enhances visible, night vision, and Infrared data, and successfully applies to night time and dark scenes. Various user options are available, integrating custom functionalities of the application into intuitive and easy to use graphical interfaces. The ensuing increase in visibility in surveillance video and intelligence imagery will expand the performance and timely decision making of the human analyst, as well as that of unmanned systems performing automatic data exploitation, such as target detection and identification.