Maria Comprida from Morro da Mensagem

On two recent posts, Sunset, Pedra de Itaipava and Serra dos Órgãos, I showed photographs of Itaipava’s landscapes in color. Itaipava is a neighborhood of Petrópolis, RJ, southeastern Brazil, where my family has a house.

One of the most conspicuous mountains in Itaipava, and the subject of this post, is Maria Comprida. This 1,926m peak can only be reached by a combination of hiking and climbing. If you like trekking and want to learn more about the trail to the peak, I provide a link to a video. I took the photograph above while climbing another peak, Morro da Mensagem, on Aug 21, 2021.

While many photographers are satisfied converting a complex landscape scene into monochrome, I tend to associate black and white compositions with simpler scenes that highlight shape, form and/or texture. Looking back on this blog, the closest I can find to a grand landscape in monochrome is Ocean View, which includes land and sky elements on a foggy day. The other black and white scenes I have posted, for the most part, are details of the ocean and isolated trees in fog. 

A simple composition with few elements is not always easy to create with the help of a camera. For example, in southeastern Brazil, the landscapes are generally busy and disorganized, including the complex vegetation of the Atlantic Forest. The predominant color is green, which in post-processing generally appears as yellow: definitely, NOT the color palette you want to work with when converting to black and white. To worsen the situation, the constant presence of haze in the landscape tends to result in low contrast scenes that are devoid of interest when converted to monochrome.  

The mountains and their peaks around Petrópolis are often naked or are covered with low vegetation, allowing the photographer to reveal the shape and texture of these geological formations. Maria Comprida is certainly one of those interesting peaks which, given the right light and atmospheric conditions, has the potential to look gorgeous in monochrome .  

Published by Alessandra Chaves

Photographer with a preference for nature photography in black and white and other abstractions.

15 thoughts on “Maria Comprida from Morro da Mensagem

    1. Good find! A Portuguese prostitute with long legs, who lost one leg in a train accident while running away from a cop. Somehow that got mixed up with the legend of Saci-Pererê, a black kid with only one leg and a red hat, who played tricks on people. It did not occur to me that the mountain was named after a person. I thought the name referred to the relative length of the peak.

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  1. Really love the sky and the scarring on the mountain – don’t think it would be as nice in colour. Spending a lot of time taking pictures in the woods, I totally get your point about how problematic green can be!

    I was reading though the comments above where you mention Saci -Pererê. That’s a memory I have from childhood when I found a little pendant someone lost on the street of ‘a black kid with only one leg.’ I remember my mother telling me about the legend – seem to recall that if you caught him he would grant you wishes – or I may be mixing that up with something else (Wikipedia says that he’ll either be your guardian or a terrible enemy depending on how you treat him).

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      1. No. I’ll look for it. The series, anyways, I can get by watching a Brazilian show, but my Portuguese reading skills leave a lot to be desired.

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