This photograph is the original post-processing attempt.
Today I took the original raw file opened the file in Lightroom and did some basic adjustments and then exported the file is to Photoshop. Duplicated the image Control-J, I then opened Topaz Clarity and ran my preset "Milky Way".
Next, following the directions in Luminosity Masks, I opened up the Channels palette, created the marching ants, and then click the save button at the bottom of the Channels palette, I renamed the new channel to lights. I then created a new adjustment layer - Curves and adjusted the curves layer to darken the highlights. I then repeated the steps as described in the tutorial to pick out only the brightest highlights and then did another curves layer to darken them to my liking.
|Luminosity mask with marching ants|
|RBG would marching ants|
|Adding Curve layer|
|Utilizing selection tool to select the beach and then adjusting with a level selection and Adobe camera raw filter|