I firmly believe this condition is a phenomena of staining developers. I have gone back through my negative files and compared a number of still life negatives of a magnolia taken against a black background in carefully controlled lighting conditions. I have negatives developed in PMK Pyro and XTOL and careful comparison scanning into photoshop shows for the film developed in PMK has a distinct "halo" around the edge of the magnolia. This effect is not present on the XTOL developed negative. It reminds me of the effect you when a subject that has high IR reflectance using Kodak HIE.
The PMK version can be found at http://home.pacbell.net/mkirwan/still_life.htm
It has plenty of highlight detail and the highlight bleed is not noticeable in the print but it is there!
My recommendation for taking pictures under extreme conditions would be to use a highly compensating developer, maybe even the water bath method but that effectively doubles your development time. I am a fan of diluted D-23 followed by an afterbath in either Borax or Kodalk. Cheap and effective and allows you to expose for the shadows and effectively develop for the highlights.