My retired attorney father is famous for a saying:
Anybody can sue anybody for anything at any time.
"They may not win," he would continue, "but they can do it... and drive you into poverty in the process." You are in no way protected if you describe a scene in so much detail that it can be clearly identified as the photograph. "Fair use" never covers the use of an expression or creation in its entirety, but only in part — usually a very small part.
From an "I'm willing to risk the lawsuit" perspective, the more common the photograph or less detail you use, the less likely anyone could identify your effort as duplicating in words what they did with light. There must be billions and billions of sunset photographs and I'm not sure I'm exaggerating when I suggest that they're all 80% the same thing.
Likewise, again from an "I'm willing to risk the lawsuit" perspective, the less notable, noteworthy, popular, or well-known the photograph, the less likely anyone will be coming after you.
Personally, I'm a huge fan of asking permission. In fact, if you provide attribution, most
starving artists are happy as larks to let you do it. Even if its only value to them is bragging rights. On the other hand, if you're looking at something so popular or iconic that the average shmoe might recognize it, it'll probably be simpler to find another photograph. Once people get a taste of income from their efforts, they tend to want that taste forever.
If there is the slightest doubt in your mind about whether or not something is legal or falls within "fair use," you should consult an attorney. That should be an axiom, not a guideline.