Interesting topic here and I especially like the dunes photo. I rarely ever use photoshop (and I know I'm not alone on the forum) but basically have to google how to do what I want every time I open it. It might be helpful for us that aren't really familiar with the tools if you could post the original (at least with the liquefy) to give a sense for how drastic or subtle an effect you're making. I wouldn't know what kind of photo I'd want to use it on.
3) Another filter i like using is liquify (Filter>liquify.). I using for a variety purposes. One of them is to adjust composition when reality is not quite cooperating with my photographic vision. Here is an example: