..why can't I keep my mouth shut?
Ultimately, I think that your second version is the right one, or very close.
Slobodan, don't you dare keep your mouth shut. You're one of the few on here who's willing to call a spade a spade instead of being a +1 guy. Keep it up. Over on "Street & PJ" I'm in deep doodoo with the moderator because I've been calling a spade a spade. I haven't been doing a Koerner-type ad hominem thing, just pointing out the fact that there's no there there in a lot of those pictures. But it's like what goes on in government: tell the truth and get kicked out.
Normally I'd agree with you about the gray highlight, and, in the screen version I think I'd favor #2 if I were showing this in a large HD TV screen. But in the print, the gray is overbalanced by the gray in the moss, and it doesn't really look gray. It just becomes a light mass that gives a bit of balance to the picture. One thing's sure, that splotch of brightness needs to be there.
Here's a second look at the same scene from day before yesterday. Slightly different time of day and slightly different point of view. I still prefer the original.