I think you're obsessing too much about matching the idea to the medium. The ideas you're trying to lift out of that still life are accessible in each image. Each works to express the idea, but with a difference, a nuance of information in the details. I think getting an idea across is much harder than getting a nice effect and (ultimately) a pretty picture. In a sense I got exactly what I was after -- an effect/look/visual style that I can continue to use in other ways with a certain confidence. But in the end, to me, it's a "purty" picture and not a lot more... I'm very happy with that, but it is what it is. [...maybe I'm the obsessive one ;-) ]
There must be one that tickles you a bit more or satisfies the gut a bit more than the others. Maybe you need a little "distance" (time usually works for me) to reflect fully on the results. Let it sit a while, or move onto another (different) image and do the same thing over and see if you end up at the same point of indecision.
Agreed, but it's a fun little obsession, or maybe just a strong curiousity on how and whether such different surface differences really affect what's underneath. And just a general love of what the lenses can do.
There's something in the image that means something to me beyond the "pretty picture." But it's important to me that the suface and effect of the image not just carry the idea or feeling, but give it strength. I think such surface appearances are important to us; it's why we spend so much time on our prints, why we use platinum and collodian and such large cameras and negatives...
"I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."