Russ your words are quite helpful. I suppose I feel the need to map out my composition and rationale behind it because I want to learn as much as I can from the more experienced members. I have a background in graphic design and theory, but not all of it necessarily translates to landscape photography. Or, I should say that I don't want to assume it all translates. I am testing my knowledge of composition and outlining it alongside the photo.
In university, a favourite professor of mine encouraged us to produce assignments in other forms than the traditional essay. For one project, I chose to do a hypertext. In it, I included a bibliography and works cited. My professor applauded me for moving past the essay format, but questioned why I still included a bibliography? You're "writing with" the authors, not plagiarizing them" (he was a critical new media theory and german lit professor).
I mention the story because it seems I'm stuck in my old ways a bit. I view the forums and this web page as a vast wealth of information with which I have learned and continue to learn a lot from. From now on, I'll let my creation speak, and continue to listen with open ears and act with direction and purpose.
Thanks for clearing the fog for me (once again).
But why do you feel you have to explain and explain? The picture either stands on its own and succeeds, or it doesn't. No amount of explanation can change that. Your personal critique sounds like the kind of nattering I'd expect from someone with an advanced degree in art history --someone who can't "do," and, as a result, teaches. This picture makes it obvious you can "do," so why not leave the teaching to someone else.
It's obvious that the light border in the V isn't haloing. If it were, it'd be visible all the way up the edge of the cloud.
Francois has explained the source of the obvious haloes in the bright clouds. But it's worth pointing out again that good composition and correct exposure always are critical. The idea that you can "save" a picture in post-processing appeals to people who go for big-time cropping and enough layers in Photoshop to force most of the file onto a scratch disk, but the picture already has succeeded or failed once the shutter's passed over the sensors. You still need some post-processing to overcome shortcomings in the equipment, but no amount of post-processing can overcome shortcomings in the photographer.
The image is a composition. I created a second island and added a bit more water to taste. Here is the image as shot, default settings in LR3.5. I know that adding the island will upset some photographers, and I was initially hesitant in editing the photo in this way.
Looking back, I should have exposed a bit brighter to get cleaner highlights in order to reduce the halos, or be more careful with my processing and sharpening.
I agree with Russ' last paragraph even though it seems I contradict myself by doing so.
I appreciate the critique and discussion.