Monday, October 12, 2009

Instructor's Tip: How to Shoot Rainbows


I hope you enjoy this week's "Instructor's Tip" by one of my favorite instructors, award winning nature photographer Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured the above image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

How To Shoot Rainbows
There’s nothing like dramatic light to take a scenic that’s been shot thousands of times to a new level. Impending storms, shafts of sun spotlighting key compositional elements, fire engine red clouds, all qualify but what rides highest on many landscape photographer’s list of most dramatic are rainbows. They have it all - prismatic color, a stormy sky lit by the sun, early morning or late afternoon light, and if you believe in folk tales, maybe a pot of gold. They’re adrenaline pumping phenomenons that rev up many photographer’s juices.

Finding a rainbow requires a number of natural events to occur. First off, the horizon by the setting or rising sun must be clear and the sun needs to be lower than forty two degrees in the sky. With your back to where it rises or sets, turn so your shadow falls directly in front of you so you’re positioned one hundred and eighty degrees from the sun. The point at which you now face is known as the antisolar point. This is where the arc of the rainbow will appear providing there is moisture in the sky. When all factors come together, a rainbow materializes. Understandably, they’re not an every day occurrence.

When you’re out in the field and it’s rainy, look toward the horizon of the setting or rising sun. If you see an opening in the clouds, look for a foreground in the direction of the antisolar point that has character or interest and wait. Shoot it vertically, horizontally, with a wide angle to take it all in, and with a telephoto to sample portions with the most dramatic color. Use a polarizer to enhance its color but be careful because as you rotate it, you can also eliminate it.
To learn more about this subject, join me on one of my photo tours. Please visit to get more information.

Take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

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