Italo Ferreira: getting barreled inside a solar eclipse | Photo: Red Bull

Brazilian surfer Italo Ferreira found himself framed by the light of a rare annular solar eclipse in his home state of Rio Grande do Norte on October 14, 2023.

The Olympic gold medallist and world champion starred in a captivating photograph that beautifully showcased the ring of fire effect.

The remarkable photograph was skillfully captured by Marcelo Maragni, a fellow Brazilian photographer.

Maragni devoted months to meticulous planning and the use of specialized equipment, immortalizing this unique moment.

Timing and Precision

The successful execution of this project required a combination of photography, precision positioning, and exceptional agility to capture the photo within a matter of seconds.

Ferreira had to align himself with meticulous care, ensuring that the moon was positioned with millimetric accuracy between the Earth and the sun.

Meanwhile, Marcelo Maragni, who stood approximately one kilometer away, ingeniously utilized alongside his camera also a range of tools - from radios for communication to two cell phones, protective glasses, and mirrors.

These measures shielded his eyes from the intense sunlight and guaranteed the removal of any shadow effects on the athlete in the image.

"Italo Ferreira's achievement is a testament to his dedication to the project and the unyielding support of Rio Grande do Norte, which provided the ideal vantage point for this extraordinary eclipse," explained the photographer.

Ferreira, who is known for his achievements in surfing, expressed his excitement about this unique experience.

"This was more than a special project for me," the surfer stated.

"I was very happy that here in Rio Grande do Norte, we have the best view of the eclipse and to have been blessed with this photo that we have been working on for months to make it perfect."

Italo Ferreira: the shots by Marcelo Maragni took months to prepare | Photo: Red Bull

A Stunning Eclipse Shot

The Brazilian surfer initially harbored doubts about the project's success.

"Today, when I left home, there were a lot of clouds in the sky, and I was a little apprehensive," added Ferreira.

"But when we arrived at the rock that would be the perfect calculated point, the weather cleared."

"And when the eclipse started, we managed to take a photo that, in my opinion, is probably one of the best photos anyone has ever taken during an eclipse."

The event, besides its natural wonder, held a personal significance for Ferreira, who won gold in surfing at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

"To be living this moment is surreal and very symbolic, mainly because it represents one of the Olympic rings and reminds me how special the Olympics were for me."

The unprecedented image was captured after just one attempt and within a brief five-second window.

Italo Ferreira: enjoying a rare solar eclipse in Baia Formosa, Brazil on October 14, 2023 | Photo: Red Bull

A Complex Lifetime Project

Leading up to the event, Maragni conducted numerous rehearsals and studies over four months, visiting more than 20 peaks and mountains to identify the ideal location.

He made various calculations to find the precise angle for positioning the surfer and even used two cell phones to simulate a theodolite for accurate measurements.

Maragni described this project as one of the most challenging and complex works in his nearly 25-year career.

"This was one of the most complex photos I have ever taken," noted Maragni.

"It involved several attempts to find a location with the correct azimuth angulation, an angle in relation to the North, and a specific height inclination."

"I also used a neutral density filter on the lens to reduce the light that would enter the camera," he explained.

The annular eclipse in Brazil commenced at approximately 3 pm local time on October 14 and ended with the sunset around 6 pm.

The captivating ring of fire formed around 4:40 pm, lasting for only a short period, making the photograph as rare as the natural phenomenon itself.

While the annular eclipse was visible from several Brazilian states, including Amazonas, Pará, Tocantins, Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Paraíba, and Pernambuco, the coastal state of Rio Grande do Norte, where Italo Ferreira grew up, had the privilege of witnessing the eclipse in all its splendor.

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