Hi John (woty87),
I made you an offer a while back here to process one of your RAW shots and compare to one you had processed to see if you were 'missing any tricks'.
You sent me your jpg and the RAW file and after getting the files, I left it a few days before I opened the RAW to edit so I had 'forgotten' what you had done to it, thus I processed it as I would one of my own shots.
Here is the embedded jpg from the RAW file, so everyone can see what we both started with;
Here is your processed version;
Rather belatedly, here's what I came up with;
I promised I would tell what I had done, so here's the list of steps, in roughly the order done, mostly from notes I made at the time;
1) Opened the crw in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) for CS5
2) Assesed image and played a bit and ended up with these ACR slider settings;
Recover 100 (to get better detail in the bright branch areas)
Contrast + 46
Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation all 0
3) Open Image in CS5
5) Cloned out the following 'distracting' bits;
Grass (top left)
Knobbly bit emerging from water (top right)
Bird poo on log (left of foreground)
Litter (two bits in front of log)
6) 'Burn' branches and trunk to enhance texture
Input; set 'mid-point' at 1.2 (to lighten detail in shadow)
Output; set 'white' to 240 (to give 'headroom' for Local Contrast Enhancement)
8) Local Contrast Enhancement with UnSharp Mask (USM); 15% amount at 200px radius and 0 threshold
At this point, I remember still not being satisfied with the texture in the logs, so I ...
9) Copied the image to a new layer and sharpened the lower one with USM; 70% amount, 3px radius and 0 threshold
10) Erased the top layer to reveal the sharpened one underneath (this is far from PP 'best practice', but it is effective )
11) Flatten image
12) Downsize 50% (from memory)
13) Sharpen (well, I think I did)
Today, I thought it looked soft and I began to doubt I had ever done the final sharpen, so ...
14) Sharpen with USM; 100% amount, 0.3px radius, 1 threshold
Hope that's helpful John, your version dealt with the grass, dust bunny and bird poo and apart from levels, there's not that much difference in the result, so I don't think you're doing too bad, but I'm equally sure others here could have done a better job than I have. It is, to quote the title, just my interpretation