On my last post, Serra dos Órgãos, I wrote about photographing mountains in the sunrise from a place near my mothers’ house in Itaipava, a neighborhood of Petrópolis, RJ, Brazil.
This post is about the sunset photograph above, taken from a different place in the same neighborhood. The place is called “Pedra de Itaipava” (Itaipava’s rock), and is now a popular spot for sunset photography. I took it during a long 7-mile hike coming from the neighborhood of Araras. The hike, although short (only 10 km), was arduous, including ups and downs to two main elevations, 1437 meters at Morro da Mensagem, down and up again to 1369 m at Pedra de Itaipava, through rocky, sandy terrain that was sometimes covered with grasses and vines that made it difficult to walk. Although there are photographers who are younger and fitter than myself, and who could do all this and carry all the necessary gear for a sunset, plus water and food, I had to go as light as possible. I am proud that I was able to hollow my Nikon D750 coupled with the adaptor and my AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8, which together are a little under 4.5 pounds.
Sunset pictures tend to turn out best when taken with a reverse graduated ND filter, and a tripod. But I did not have any of those with me on the hike, for the reason outlined above. Lacking the filter to tame the glare from the sun and to compensate for the great dynamic range between the mountains and the sky, I chose to underexpose by 2 stops and to sacrifice the details of the mountains, the darkest portion of the frame. The photograph, taken with ISO 400, had some noise. To fix it, I used Topaz Detail to smooth out the image a little.
In this type of picture, detail and ultra sharpness are not necessary: this photo is about a colorful sunset, and the sun rays bathing the chain of mountains. It is not about how great my gear is, how well I know my settings, or how sharp the grass on the mountains look in the dark. While a landscape photographer might get stuck in technical details upon examining this image, a person who has seen a similar sunset will most likely just connect with it.
The mountains in this frame are part of the Atlantic Range (or Coastal Range). They run from the Brazilian North to the South. When I was in school, we learned that the “Cordilheira Atlântica” is also known as the sea of mountains (Mar de Montanhas). The mountains, which go on and on forever to the horizon, look like the waves of the ocean .