I will asnwwer your quesions as I read them.
I would like to know exactly what it is you struggle with? The RAW file IS the original image
, and since you are used to viewing a significantly altered and compressed JPEG, which already has Noise Reduction applied, the RAW image will look different; The views you see in LR are also very large, the file size is many times larger than the jpeg, so you are looking beyond the surface of a jpeg image. Its this ability that allows you to take decision yourself on how you want to process the actual original image. More noise may be there becuse NO noise reductio has been applied, - its your decision.
LR is where to reduce noise in a RAW image. Note the workflow, it runs vetically from top to bottom down the strip on the right; it also places sharpening BEFORE noise reduction. It also has the ability for you to examine 10% crops of small areas of the image, anywhere you want, to view exactly what the effect of sharpening and noise reduction is. You have complete control. You can view the 100% crops, see the image as it fits on the screen, lots of ways to compare before and after. By the way, Control Z undoes any change you make in LR, or CS.
So the ORDER is as its laid out in LR, - thats the workflow. Note, white balance is the first adjustment, as it affects all others that come after.
No, no magic formula. The magic is clearly laid out in that strip, With practice, you may decide on a way that skips some steps, or changes the order.
. As far as a RAW file is concerned, no really, but the same applies as it does to every shot. So nothing special because you will use a RAW file.
Your V1 could have been produced entirely in LR, in RAW, without saving as a JPEG until the very last step to output a JPEG for EPZ, PS would not be needed for any part of the process.
Why is this important? When you edit in RAW; or you edit in RAW and then save as a DNG or TIFF, subsequent editing is NON DESTRUCTIVE, meaning the image is not degraded. When editing a JPEG, every two times the image is saved, it loses detail though file compression. Even if youve made no changes. So, as an example, you could edit in RAW, or in TIFF or DNG for two weeks, and the image at the end would have lots NOT detail at all.
There are tools in LR that I would bet you have never seen. You can brighten or darken in tiny or large areas in very localised areas, you can blur localised areas. You can remove spots and blemishes, down to individual pixels; you can mask areas so adjustments are not applied. There are many capabilities it has that many people dont explore. All these for example are done with the Adjustment brush.
LR has a slew of B&W presets; Colour presets; styles, etc you can use.
Now, this shot. The exix -1 shows up in exif for me in my OPS, so maybe a site issue.
It also shows that the shot (V3) has had contrast set to + 23, and brightness set t a + value I cant remember.
So I opend t it Camera Raw, and removed the existing adjustments, Added +1, and set saturation to +8. I sharpened a small amount.
The result is in the first upload.
I then used CS5 to convert to mono, thats mod2.
Go to Adobe, and there are numerous tutorials on LR and RAW processing there. AS a guide, I would spend two minutes in an image in RAW; sometimes way more, but that the norm.
Hope this helps,