Griz: My first thought was that if this is through just the soft contrast filter it might be too much, since the dog's back and parts of the tree trunk are pretty dark. BUT, maybe you needed this much to get tone in your son's face and his hat, which was probably the most important highlight area. And, if this soft exposure gave you the second print in your original post (along with, of course, a hard exposure) I'd say you were right on. I think that print has a good contrast. Highlights are nice and bright, shadows are good and solid.
Hi Dan, thanks much for taking the time to compare the prints, and for your thoughts. My son's face, and his florescent orange hat were indeed the hardest parts to get tone into. My son was almost ghost white in real life (video games at that time in his life....ha!), and the direct sunlight almost made him glow! Getting good detail into the dog's coat was a challenge too, being tri-colored. Balancing the black and white, and trying to keep a degree of detail in both was a fun exercise.