Well, I can't let this be. ...
Seems to be the same with me .
IF I may add a proposal … with all humility; being well aware that the following schematic approach can’t be ideal for every scene / image:
/> In ACR, all tonal controls: Exposure, Shadows, Brightness and Contrast are initially set to 0 (- zero -; curve tab linear).
/> Alt/click on the Exposure slider, move it left or right, to find this sweet spot of maximum Exposure which does not produce any relevant additional clipping. I mean, some pixel of the sky seem to be already irrevocably clipped and obviously can’t be recovered. So the task is to find the max Exposure setting which does not *significantly* enlarge these areas.
Admittedly, this step is a little bit a matter of feeling and in general the main ‘rule’ is not to clip any textured highlights. Most typically this ends in a +/- 0.75EC range, but that's of course just a my 'single'-experience.
/> Set the Shadows slider somewhere reasonably towards the commencement of the histogram. Leave Brightness & Contrast at zero. Click OK to process the file from ACR to Photoshop (ProPhoto RGB, 16 bit).
The following three steps can be easily recorded as an Action:
/> Ctrl/click on the RGB composite channel to select everything visible
/> Ctrl + Shift + I to invert the selection
/> Add a Curves’ adjust layer (80% Opacity and Normal blend mode) which then will carry the inverted selection as a layer mask. The curve itself is a quite special one; it is defined by the following 6 anchor points for Input/Output = 31/40, 56/78, 83/124, 114/172, 147/212 and 180/240.
Then, manually operated again:
/> Alt/click on the layer mask
/> Apply an appropriate Theshold to cover & protect only the brightest regions by pure black, while the rest of the mask gets white.
/> Apply a crude Gaussian Blur of some pixel width (maybe 10 or so)
/> Change back to normal view to fine-tune Opacity
Frankly, I’m using this technique since some weeks, it’s simple in essence and I’m surprised how often it works without further effort (referring to respective ‘HDR’ cases which can’t be adequately treated by the ACR global controls only). So at the risk that it doesn’t work here and it’s finally me looking – I’d like to invite you to give it a try.