A one-in-a-million photograph of Christ the Redeemer has been captured on camera by a Brazilian photographer – and it is sweeping across the internet like wildfire.
Located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the iconic statue – called Cristo Redentor in the native Portuguese – was struck by lightning at 18:55 local time on February 10, where it was captured on camera (some might say miraculously) by local Brazilian photographer Fernando Braga.
His photograph freezes the moment that a fork of lightning crackles down from the heavens and strikes the head of the statue – the head of Christ – creating what looks like a 'crown of light' by virtue of the aperture blades on the camera lens (by the same process that photographers capture sunburst and starbursts (opens in new tab)).
"Unstoppable. Never give up," Braga wrote (opens in new tab) on Instagram. "Lots and lots of frustrated attempts to catch the lightning falling on Christ. Many rains and days passed. I got close a few times, but I had never managed to get to Cristo. And right there that I love to photograph! I already have a very special photo for me which was the Blessed Moon. Now it's Divine Lightning!"
Raios Divinos, or "Divine / Blessed Lightning", is the name he has given to this incredibly timed photograph.
"As I love a timelapse and it is difficult in this case… So here's a video of two lightning strikes today at Christ the Redeemer and its neighbor, the Antenas do Sumaré. Shots taken at 6:55 pm and 7:36 pm using Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8E at 70mm (Cristo) and 50mm f/1.8G (Antennas)."
While no other photographer was able to capture even a single lightning strike, Braga actually captured two versions of the strike on the antennae. He took an initial shot at 19:03, using the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E (opens in new tab), which he was unsatisfied with, and then changed lens to the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G (opens in new tab) and took a second shot half an hour later!
"I just posted one of Raio that fell a little while ago in Christ and together with the post there is one on the antennas," he wrote in a follow-up (opens in new tab) Instagram post. "When I was looking at the dozens of pictures, it was the first one I saw and I got upset and told myself! Damn, I should have used the 50mm.
"Then I saw the photo in Cristo and I was satisfied... but I said, it doesn't hurt to put the 50mm and try a little more.... There it is! Now in fullness!"
You can see more of Fernando Braga's stunning photography on his website (opens in new tab), as well as a timelapse of the Raios Divinos lightning strike on his YouTube channel (opens in new tab).
If you enjoyed this article, you may be interested in reading about the best lenses for landscapes (opens in new tab), as well as the best lenses for astrophotography (opens in new tab). And, as proven by these photographs, the best low-light cameras (opens in new tab) don't have to be brand-new ones!