Sunday, March 29, 2015

Desert Rainbows

Rainbows always fascinate me.  They are beautiful, ephemeral, and not something I see every day.  When I am lucky enough to see a rainbow,  I try to take time to enjoy it and appreciate it.  As a Christian, a rainbow always reminds me of God's promise to Noah that He would never destroy the earth by flood again. 

The science of rainbows are that it takes rain and sun to create a rainbow.  In the desert, rain events are few and far between, so a rainbow is even more special in the desert.  

In my last trip, I was at Big Bend during several rain events.  During the first one, the rain was in the middle of the afternoon when the sun was still high in the sky.  The location of a rainbow is related to the sun angle.  I was at the bottom of the valley when I saw the rain and sunshine.  I knew that I had to get up higher in order to see the rainbow.  I was with a photographer friend. When we got to the top and started looking for the rainbow, she saw it first. But it was against the hillside not high in the sky due to the sun angle - much as I had expected. I knew we would be looking down on the rainbow because of how high in the sky the sun was. I rushed to photograph it and thought that I had missed it.  

When I began working the photos from the trip, I realized that I had actually captured a double rainbow.  One is barely visible against the hillside and the other in the sky. 

As we drove back to where the bluebonnets were,  I saw another rainbow barely peaking over the canyon wall.

On a different day, the sun and rain again appeared together. This time the sun was lower in the sky and I knew we needed to get down lower to see it.  Sure enough, a rainbow next to Casa Grande.

As a photographer, I get a sense of urgency when I know a rainbow is possible. I can hardly wait to get the chance to photograph it, so when I see one is possible and I'm in the wrong place, you can imagine me bouncing in my seat in anticipation and hope that I will get there in time to capture it. 

Rainbow photography tips:

1.  Learn the sun angle - so you know whether or not you need a taller vantage point or a lower vantage point to see the rainbow.

2. Use a circular polarizer filter.  It will brighten the rainbow or make it totally disappear depending upon how it is turned.

3.  Bracket your exposure so you have a better chance to get the most vibrant colors. 

4.  When possible, try to find a location near you with an optimal composition.

5.  Take time to enjoy the rainbow in the short time it is visible. 

1 comment:

Quentin said...

One of my favorite photo targets too Mary Ann... Rainbows are, indeed, magical. Sometimes I get so caught up in just looking at one that I end up not getting a picture at all.