Somewhere Over the Rainbow, 2

Rainbow over the Shenandoah Valley

Shenandoah NP, Stony Man Overlook

Technical – Nikon D300, Tokina 50-135 2.8 @50mm, 1/100 sec, f/8, EV=0, ISO200, WB=Cloudy, multi-segment metering, aperture priority, RAW capture, tripod, circular polarizer, remote cable release, double bubble level

  • Circular Polarizer to “pop” the rainbow; absolutely critical to the success of this shot
  • Double bubble level to ensure a level horizon (not that you could tell)
  • Shot several bursts at a high frame rate because of the rainbow’s fleeting nature; like trying to capture a lightning strike


  • Rainbow dominates
  • Tree framing right & providing depth
  • Interplay between rainbow & tree framing the right side
  • Enough dark cloud at top to tell you what the day was like & why the rainbow
  • Autumn landscape for mid ground depth


1. Nikon Capture NX2 – RAW conversion

I had written, after the release of CEP4, that I was through with NX2 “except”

This is one of the exceptions – the image had severe chromatic aberrations – blue & red fringes on edges of the black tree surfaces

ACR did nothing to solve the problem (that I could find)

They disappeared with zero effort using NX2

Shown here @200% – click for full screen

2. Tonal & color contrast adjustments in Color Efex Pro 4 using my custom designed recipe for basic image post processing

  Step-by-step detailed illustration in this post

3.  Silver Efex Pro 2 – B&W conversion

4. Combined 2 & 3 in PS via luminosity blending (better detail)

This rainbow was almost invisible at times.

When I first looked I didn’t see it; then it was there; then it was gone – and on and on for about 5 minutes

Sometime it was fairly distinct, others not – the violet indigo portion was rarely visible

No one else at this spot saw it

The circular polarizer was key

On the few occasions where it remained visible for more than a few seconds I played with the CP – it made the rainbow change from vivid to invisible

I found the “vivid” setting and got to work

Rather than react to its changes one shot at a time, I used a high frame rate burst setting and held down the shutter release each time things looked promising
Additional reading from some of my earlier posts –

About seeing rainbows – where & when

About using circular polarizers

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