You're off to a good start, in my opinion.
If you still have the original DSS result (minus any tweaks) in .TIF format, what you can try is using Iris
It's a good program, but has a very
steep learning curve. However, there's only one feature that you'll use this go-around - and its easy
- Load the .TIF into Iris
- In the box with the 2 sliders (the "Threshold" box), hit the "Auto" button
- The result should
look a fair bit more pleasing.
- Save it as a .JPG, and do further tweaks with Photoshop, etc.
Here's a link to easy Photoshop tweaking:
(What you want is on the second half of the page)
I'm by no
means an expert, but it's the route that I take with my pics now, and it takes maybe 5 minutes to do. I'm sure that there's better ways to do it, and hopefully I'll learn them someday, but I think that my pics look better now than they did when I started.
I think that's half the fun of astrophotography - always searching for a better result, more detail... always learning.
Hope this helps!
BTW - I think that the 3rd one is really nice - really captures what the eye can see.