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Chasing Rainbows

Kevin Ambrose @ 3:30 PM

Rainbow over the Washington Monument and the WWII Memorial Monday, June 13.

For the record, I've never chased a storm for a rainbow photo before, but I guess there's always a first time. I've read about guys near the West Coast who chase rainbows, but I figured they don't have much severe weather to shoot so that's the next best thing. Besides, rainbows are fairly infrequent in our area and usually hard to predict. That said, the storms last Monday looked very good on radar for rainbow potential as I watched them approach D.C. They were oriented along a narrow band, surrounded by clear sky on both sides, and they were relatively slow moving. I decided even if the storms did not produce a rainbow, I could potentially get some good cloud photos. So, I made the trip to D.C. ahead of the storms and set up my camera at the rainbow fountains (obvious choice, right?) to wait for a rainbow. As I stood under my umbrella, my camera ready on a tripod, the elements started to come together for a good rainbow. Clouds moved in and rain began to fall at the same time the western sky began to glow bright yellow behind the showers. The sun quickly broke through while the rain continued to fall and instantly a rainbow appeared, as if on queue. The reaction of the tourists to the rare site was almost as interesting to watch as the weather itself. I had several comments from tourists about how I was photographing a "postcard moment." Ultimately, the rainbow faded as the clouds moved south and east. Then, unexpectedly, the storm built back westward with heavier rain and another rainbow appeared. The sun was lower in the sky and the rainbow was less bright, but the convective clouds on the horizon made for an almost surreal backdrop. A set of my favorite photos from Monday are included in this post.


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