Now could I have gotten to this point in 5 or 6 deft adjustments; i.e. without “flailing around”? – probably not. I defy anyone to achieve such a feat (except perhaps Jeff and Eric). This is not a straightforward image and I had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted the tones in the Moon to be rendered. And now I’m there and significantly richer for the learning experience. Many thanks!
Yep...looks better–more natural tone mapping than your previous "Normal". And I think you learned a bit more about how the controls interact (and potentially interfere). I think using a + contrast was a good start and then using highlights and shadows to modify the contrast curve was really the key here. The rest of the changes really just refined your starting points. And make no mistake about it...it's perfectly fine to bounce back and forth with multiple iterations of adjustments, in fact it's inevitable. But I think moderation of the use of whites and blacks are important and I really do think that with the new adaptive logic, setting the white and black clip points is no longer a good way to go. In PV 2010 it was natural to set the clip points first using exposure and the blacks and then modify the midtones with brightness. Then recover to regain highlight texture and fill light to lighten the shadows. But that approach really kinda conflicts with the PV 2012 adaptive logic. Exposure to adjust the midtone brightness, contrast to adjust the tone curve, highlights to refine or recover highlight detail and shadows to refine or bring up shadow detail. Then really just use whites and blacks to tweak the desired clip points. I shy away from really strong whites/blacks settings and really haven't found a strong need. If you still need a harder clip point than you can get in the basic panel, I tend to go into the point curve editor and move the end points in. That has less impact on the adaptive nature of the rest of the basic panel controls.