Ultra wide angle shots that contain just a wide view are usually boring as there is just a lot of small things – and usually lots of empty space. Often things get better when there is a foreground interest but that requires the photographer to be very near the subject – a lot nearer than what it seems from the photo.
emphasizing the foreground relative to background, thereby making full use of the "distortion" (no, not barrel distortion, rather, you make nearer objects larger relative to distant objects than they actually are):
you'll get the hang of it - just remember, every element counts, and you have loads of elements when you have a wide perspective. also, if all your shots end up seeming like they have a lot of empty useless space, it's probably true.
Hi ahming, the best way to learn is to keep shooting and also look at some of the fantastic works from sites like Flickr.
In particular you can join the groups on Flickr for your particular lens (just do a search for your lens under group names) and I'm sure you can discover lotsa gems in there and learn from them. Figure out what works and what doesn't!
near far technique is simply a means to emphasize subjects in the foreground, because the wide angle lens has such a wide field of view, things that are nearer appear a lot larger than they actually are, relative to far objects.
the most traditional type of wide angle landscape photo with a background and a foreground anchor element is standard use of this:
here, the rock is not larger than the sun in the distance, nor is it as large as all the trees put together far away, but you emphasize it.
most people tend to think that using UWA is all about capturing the scene and standing far away. like i mentioned before, this results in a lot of dead space that has no use or purpose. in my view, most of the time UWA helps you get closer than usual, and in a way, "simplifies" the scene.
here's a less obvious example, but it is still happening:
the merlion is certainly not as large as the esplanade, and all the buildings put together.