|straight out of camera, 70mm f/7.1|
For a landscape and sky picture, usually the first thing I do is lower the highlights to bring out the sky and raise the shadows to enhance the darker land. I often increased the whites and darken the blacks to sort of balance it out. Again, this is all using Lightroom sliders, quick and easy and you see more detail in the sky and more color in the land.
Cropping, Rule of Thirds and the Golden Spiral
Most photographers know about the rule of thirds to make visually interesting pictures. It's easy enough to learn and use in practice, most digital cameras have an option to overlay the guidelines on the display screen as you shoot. Less known and more difficult is the golden spiral, which I haven't been able to achieve - at least not on purpose.
Sometimes a composition just seems to draw the eye, and out of curiosity I used Lightroom's crop overlay tool to superimpose a golden spiral on the finished image and discovered it touches the rocky outcrop nicely. I'm not sure I have the wherewithal to do this on purpose, sometimes it just happens. In this case, I was just trying to make the surf and cliff meet in the corner. I only discovered later the golden spiral fit by happy accident.
Fine art photographer Elliot McGuckin recently created a study of the golden ratio in Ansel Adam's work. Perhaps he was genius enough to do it intentionally, or maybe he just knew what our eyes find pleasing.