marciofs, to do a proper flash as Ian suggests, you need to do a test strip first to determine the flash time. What you are usually trying to do with a flashing exposure is give the maximum amount of exposure without creating any density/tone (ie the developed and fixed paper should still be white) before the main image exposure.
Another thing you might want to do first is make some very low contrast test prints so that you can see what detail the negative contains in those highlights, particularly in the grasses in the first image.
Regarding your second question, these are challenges often encountered in printing, and there is nothing wrong with having to do some work. It can take pracitice and time to make good prints from difficult negatives. You need to use burning, dodging and other controls carefully so that they are hidden in the final print.
You can also learn something from these images about negative exposure/development control, which can help to make future negatives a little easier.