Three years to catch a snapshot

Three years to catch a snapshot
Saturday 19 February 2022

Can a single photograph embody an entire story? For three years, Nicola Donini, professional paragliding pilot, and Filippo Frizzera, photographer and mountain enthusiast, have been trying to realize a snapshot that existed for all that time only in their imaginations: catching the moon suspended among the jagged peaks of the Brenta Dolomites, with a powered paraglider flying through them.

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Such a photograph requires a perfect intermeshing of a huge number of variables. First of all, you need the moon. It must be a full moon setting just as the sun rises, and exactly behind the Campanil Bass rock tower. This already reduces the time windows to two or three opportunities a year, with bad weather days limiting this further to once or twice a year at best. Opportunities that last less than ten minutes each, when typically everyone is in a spin trying to correct small errors of calculation. Then you need to add a paraglider, which has to be perfectly positioned relative to all the other elements, without forgetting all the unpredictable factors like wind and equipment failures.

Nicola and Filippo had been trying since 2019 but the wind, clouds, and pandemic were not on their side. However, their desire to capture that paraglider suspended between the moon and mountains would not allow them to rest, right up until 18 February 2022 when, together with a second paramotoring pilot, Marco Diliberto, they finally managed to bring their ambitious project to port.

The paragliders were in position before dawn. Then when everything seemed perfect, Nicola had a technical problem and was forced to abandon the attempt five minutes before the snapshot. Marco was left alone in the sky, without a GPS positioning system, but in radio contact, and he managed to position himself perfectly for a couple of seconds. An epic photographic moment, dreamt and conceptualized for years, now finally captured.

Photo: Filippo Frizzera.
Paragliders: Marco Diliberto and Nicola Donini.
Thanks to Filippo Frizzera and Sofia Muck for their help writing this article.

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