What does it all mean?

A double rainbow is always fun to experience and in some cases quite dramatic, as in the popular video‚ Double Rainbow. In my personal experience, the Hawaiians have the best philosophy about such things, they say it is a blessing! If you have been to the Hawaiian Islands, you also know how blessed they are with so many rainbows! The double rainbow could be considered more unusual, and the best of all is a double bow with the full arch visible. I believe it is a blessing to experience any rainbow, but to be in a place that makes a photograph is simply the best! After all, you must be in the right place at the right time, with the rain in front of you and sun over your shoulder, to even witness a bow. In addition, the sun must be low enough in the sky so that it is indeed just over your shoulder placing you smack dab between the sun and the rain shower. Lining all these elements up is what makes it a photographic blessing.

To better your odds of photographing a bowscape‚ some intuitive thinking and fast action is usually required. This is the fun part and what I call "chasing blessings".

Days with fast moving showers are the best! This condition in the morning and evening will almost certainly yield great bowscapes. The rest is all geometry! Yes, it is true, you learned something use full in high school. This full arched double shot‚ bowscape, occurred following six days of rain. I rushed out of my studio to a familiar location that I knew offered a vista in the right direction. I actually drove out through the shower that is creating the bow in this scene.

double rainbow, Campus Point, Santa Barbara

Here are two tips for improving those bowscapes. Use a polarizing filter. It is amazing how much color appears when the filter is turned just right to block UV from the area of the rainbow. In addition, if you experience the full arch and want to make a panorama of it, perform the spin as you go trick!

Normally, a polarizing filter is not good for panoramas, as it usually makes dramatic gradations in blue skies that are difficult to stitch together in post. However, sometimes rules are meant to be broken. In the example I am showing there were two aspects in my favor for utilizing the spin as you go trick. First, there were many clouds to help CS5 blend any uneven gradations. Second, I did not need to turn the filter for maximum position in all the shots. In addition this made for fewer gradations and thus better for post stitching. The trick is to slightly turn the polarizing filter in each of the scenes so to get maximum color. Because there was no subject within 50 feet of me, I could hand hold for this pano and just overlap a bit extra for better stitching.

The top row of thumbs show how the rainbow shows up in only part of the scenes if you don't turn the polarizer as you go.


With all this rain in Southern California there will be plenty of green grass and flowers to make more potential bowscapes in the spring. In March we will be heading to Catalina Island to chase rainbow/blessings and most certainly polarize some of what will be an epic spring bloomage on the island.

Life is so very short. Take pictures of it!