Looking at your pictures, I'm guessing you have a front row seating distance of about 9.25'? Let me know if I got the distance wrong.
Sounds like you went from a viewing ratio of about 0.9x screen width to about 1.0 x screen width? That seems about right from what other people have done for 2.35 CH setups. From what I've seen, the general consensus is 1.33x screen width is preferred (ignoring resolution and artifacts) for 16:9, making it 1x screen width for 2.35. Anything closer and you get eyestrain, anything further and it doesn't fill your vision as well.
From what I remember, human vision is more sensitive to vertical peripheral vision and optimized for horizontal scanning, so you can go wider without increasing eyestrain (to some degree). This is also why so many people sit in the middle of the theater. If you sit any closer, you have to look up, making small (~1.0-1.3x) viewing ratios much more uncomfortable in a theater than they would be in a home environment. Many people suggest choosing a viewing ratio that is similar to what you'd view from in a theater, but I've always pushed for sitting closer because of this anomoly. Anyone other passerbys have any comments on this?