Take a Photo of a Rainbow
This is one of a set of almost 40 diagrams exploring Rainbows.
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Take a Photo of a Rainbow
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About the Diagram
An overview of rainbows
An atmospheric rainbow is an arc or circle of spectral colours and appears in the sky when an observer is in the presence of strong sunshine and rain.
- Atmospheric rainbows:
- Atmospheric rainbows often appear as a shower of rain is approaching, or has just passed over. The falling raindrops form a curtain on which sunlight falls.
- To see an atmospheric rainbow, the rain must be in front of the observer and the Sun must be in the opposite direction, at their back.
- A rainbow can form a complete circle when seen from a plane, but from the ground, an observer usually sees the upper half of the circle with the sky as a backdrop.
- Rainbows are curved because light is reflected, refracted and dispersed symmetrically around their centre-point.
- The centre-point of a rainbow is sometimes called the anti-solar point. ‘Anti’, because it is opposite the Sun with respect to the observer.
- An imaginary straight line can always be drawn that passes through the Sun, the eyes of an observer and the anti-solar point – the geometric centre of a rainbow.
- A section of a rainbow can easily disappear if anything gets in the way and forms a shadow. Hills, trees, buildings and even the shadow of an observer can cause a portion of a rainbow to vanish.
- Not all rainbows are ‘atmospheric’. They can be produced by waterfalls, lawn sprinklers and anything else that creates a fine spray of water droplets in the right conditions.
There are three basic conditions that have to be fulfilled before an atmospheric rainbow appears:
About the diagram: So you want a photo of a rainbow?
Make sure you are always carrying your camera or phone with you. Natural rainbows are rarer than you might think? You may get your photo on the first day, or it may be weeks before the conditions are right.
- If you can’t wait for nature to make you a rainbow, then there are other options. Rainbows can be produced by waterfalls, water fountains, lawn sprinklers and other things that create a spray of water.
- Once you find your rainbow then ideally, place your camera on something solid or use a tripod.
- If you are using a phone then set it to maximum resolution (the largest file size).
- If you are using a camera, have the option, and plan to edit your shots, then select camera raw. This is a file format that gathers as much detail as possible without worrying about file size.
- Take plenty of photos. It’s best to take a whole series. Zoom in, zoom out change the framing.
- If you have the option, then use a range of exposure settings. This is sometimes called exposure bracketing. The rainbow will show up best if a photo is a bit darker so that there is more detail in the sky.
- If your camera has the option, select HDR (high dynamic range) for some shots. This mode allows your device to take three (or more) shots at different exposures and then blends them together to create a better overall result.
- Once you have the photos, the next option is Adobe Photoshop or similar. With the right set of skills, you can make endless edits and adjustments until your rainbow looks just right.
Some Key Terms
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