Chasing Rainbows - tyneholm
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Chasing Rainbows

Assignment L37

Who doesn’t love a rainbow? They are a beautiful sight and their relative rarity gives them added appeal. They are formed when sunlight passes through rain, with the raindrops acting as tiny prisms-when light reflects off the drops, it is broken down into a spectrum. Rainbows appear directly opposite the sun and can be full circles, although we usually only see an arc. 

Your mission is to shoot a rainbow! You will need to head out on days when the forecast is for sunshine and showers. The shots with most impact are usually taken in clearing showers, as the rainbow will be set against a dark, brooding sky, and the clarity of the scene-with the air having been washed clean by the rain-can be outstanding. Of course, this provides a few challenges, such as getting wet, so make sure you wear suitable clothing. 

Rainbows can be fleeting, so it is often necessary to work fast. With such a naturally beautiful phenomenon it can also be easy to forget that the usual rules of composition still apply. So, take particular care with this aspect of the image, making sure all the elements are balanced and harmonious. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to predict when a rainbow might appear, and you can work out exactly where it will form, so try to set up in advance and frame a suitable composition while you wait for it. 

View the images


  • Use a polarizing filter to enhance the rainbow-simply rotate the filter until you see the rainbow “pop:’
  • Keep a constant eye on your lens or filter to make sure there are no rain drops that might ruin your pictures-wipe them clean with a good-quality microfiber cloth. 
  • A lens hood can help keep your lens clear. 

Special Kit

  • Polarizing filter
  • Lens hood 
  • Rain cover
  • Chamois leather or microfiber cloth
  • Waterproof clothing

Field Notes

  • The best way to capture a rainbow is to set up in a shower and wait for it to clear-if you set up after the rain finishes, you will be in a rush, and risk missing the best moments. 
  • You will need to protect your kit, so use a rain cover and have a microfiber cloth or chamois leather handy to wipe your equipment down. Avoid changing lenses in the rain-make sure you do this in a sheltered spot before you set up. 
  • A rainbow may appear during rain, so protect your camera and lenses. If it is impossible to keep your lens completely clean, take multiple shots: the drops will be in different places on each image, so you can merge them to create a single clean shot.