It was the first time I traveled to Aparados da Serra. We were going from Florianópolis toward Canyon Montenegro, the highest point in the State of Rio Grande do Sul. During the long trip we watched the landscape that framed the mountain scenery, which was still recovering from the severe winter of the year 2010. It was spring, but we could see vegetation and animal coat brands that station, after all we were over 1,400 meters high. Were those beautiful places.Ruy Luiz Machado
It was lunchtime when we arrived at the Inn. Beth and Mario, the owners, were already waiting for us with their family and employees, with a traditional serrano lunch. There were moments of confraternization and relaxation that anticipated the photographic journey of the afternoon.
These photographic incursions to Aparados da Serra in São José dos Ausentes city, was perhaps the greatest moment that we, students of Photography, had to apply the techniques learned during the previous months. The singular nature of high altitudes, the mountainous relief intersected by rivers and gorges canyons, allow many moments of excitement where everyone shared among themselves the discoveries made in each new adventures with their cameras. My experience was no different.
After lunch and accommodated the luggage we went to the Perau Branco Waterfall. Some o fus were on horseback, while others were by minibus. Amazing sculpture made by nature in the formation of that waterfall, whose agent Sepultura river is drawing between those mountains a true work of art. The sound of water falling through the rocks set the tone that still completely preserved environment from human interference. The inclination of the afternoon light made the place into a perfect scene for our first contacts with the nature of the site. Scenario of pure beauty, which resulted in beautiful images for everyone.
Back to the Inn in the late afternoon, more relaxed moments of the class during dinner. Again they served us the specialties of mountain gastronomy.
We were still up late at night doing some long exposure photographs. The temperature insisted on staying low, but the animation of the six or seven who were there allowed cold in second place. Resulted in unique photographs of the Milky Way, the sky, the movement of the stars with the rotation of the Earth, the pines illuminated with lanterns, the Inn with the low light environment ... Everything was new for us.
What perhaps made a big difference to me throughout this trip was waking up the next day. It was still dark, passing from 6:00 am when I opened the door and peeked out to see how the weather was outside. There was still some fog and the cold was intense, but what really surprised me were to see the sheep free slowly passed just ahead of my door. Very quickly I returned to the room put a warm one, took the camera and went out. The cold was very Strong and the sheep had moved away, but it was still possible to make some records of them.
That's when I remembered that I had arranged with Mario and Beth to show me how they make the Camargo, a common custom among the highlanders, who during milking cows, they drink a very hot coffee and tight with milk from the animal. We took the Camargo, chatted a bit, but they had other tasks that precede the breakfast of the guests. As there was still an hour for the coffee I thanked them and left the stable.
There was a great silence in the air, which was only broken by birds in search of food. I looked round and saw no one else, I was the only one out of the Inn. It was already brightening the day, and even with the small fog that had been possible for me to look around and watch that amazing scenery. The landscape of the mountains have something else, hard to define in words. I believe it is the result of a series of elements that compose it: the severity of the weather conditions that influence vegetation, different types of tools and instruments that are used in daily work, in relative isolation that people living in direct contact with nature, the distance from major centers that allows the preservation of customs and habits... A landscape that reflects well harshness of mountain life, but at the same time brings something fascinating to that landscape.
Then I began to record some details where there were more light. And one after another, the images were happening. But what really struck me, and that I apply today in my fieldwork, is the high concentration that came to me in a completely unexpected way: a closer look, a direct connection to the environment around... and the details began to emerge, a true syntonic process of dialogue with objects, fences, windows, walls, dew, the elapsed time... a process as if I was literally transposed to another dimension, where there is no more sensation of cold, hunger or thirst, where silence reigns, where I was no longer the owner of my own will but an instrument connected to a higher power, a locus where space and time start to have other dimensions: become sacred; theme that later I was studying the writings of the philosopher and historian Mircea Eliade.
And as a result of it, beautiful images began to flow, one after another. One in particular that I consider to have been the first of this new process for me, which is posted at the top of this page: a monochrome image of an old wooden fence illuminated by the beautiful morning light.
There are moments that are important in our lives, moments like this, very different to an engineer who until then was more concerned with the techniques of makig photos, and was now having the opportunity to be presented for the first time to what really is Photography: when it turns into image. Image of what we recorded, image of what we perceive about things, images of what we are... this was the moment when I realized that photography has become image to me.
I forgot the time, and when I was called to the breakfast I had to hurry because everyone was finishing up and getting ready to go to the Montenegro Canyon, which is 2 kms from the Inn.
It was a very good experience the visit to the Canyon. The weather was clear and cloudless, allowing a broad view of the mountainside and several cities in the south coast of Santa Catarina State, as the Canyon is located on the border of this States.
The ride home included a stop at Cachoeirão dos Rodrigues, which is also located in São José dos Ausentes, which is formed by the Silveira river falling by 28 meters over a large dark rock structure with a large volume of water. The scenery of the region contains a relief designed by mountains of undergrowth and some pines, depicting a landscape preserved in time: completely timeless.
On the return trip to Florianópolis, there was a sense of satisfaction, of accomplishment. Our fatigue was great, and the long journey allowed us to think and dream about the great experiences we had on that trip.
After this first trip, I'm back three more times to Aparados da Serra along with students of the Photography Course. A place that always surprises me with new experiences in the art of photography.
I offer this report to Mr. André Sielski, good friend, great photographer, teacher and enthusiast of the Art of Photography.