Capturing a Sunrise Rainbow and Waterfal

After a week spent in Ireland I’ve seen some amazing sights. It is a stunning nation, with people who are friendly and warm. While the majority of days have been a bit gloomy I’ve attempted to make the most of the foggy landscapes and be awestruck by such a beautiful place. But the weather has made it challenging to capture vibrant sunset and sunrise photos which is disappointing. It’s not a secret that the golden hour is a great moment to capture photos. There has been one amazing sunrise for photography thus far. In a short time the sky transformed from a dull, drab sheet of gray into an amazing display of colors and a rainbow popped up in the most perfect light. In this post, I’ll go over the entire narrative and the thought process behind my most favorite photograph from this stunning sunrise.

The first step is to begin by the scouting. I was in the region, which is Doolin, the city of Doolin, Ireland, for some time, and had been to a couple of interesting landscapes before. Two of them were especially intriguing: a beach that was rocky and an unassuming waterfall that slid straight into the sea. The waterfall was only visible from two vantage points and I couldn’t find an area of the foreground that seemed attractive. However, I did look for the possibility of capturing a photo one evening and it helped to cement the location in my head:

This scouting photograph was taken after sunset on a cloudy day. NIKON D800E + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 30/1, f/6.3

I’d already taken a few pictures of the beach too however, I was still hoping to take a better photo which is why I set an alarm to dawn in the first location. Due to this time of the year and Ireland’s northern latitude, was required to leave my bed at around 4:45 in morning to get there on time. The weather was bleak when I awoke from the bed – a slight drizzle and a dull sky. However, I was awake early as the cloud cover was beginning to disappear from view. I decided it was time to get outside.

The beach, however it was only a thirty minute walk and I was late. Mornings are hard. I was not going to get to the beach and so I decided to shoot some photos of the landscape on the nearby farm. At the time of this post the rain had stopped and the sky was beginning to become clear. The weather was changing quickly and for the better.

NIKON D800E + 70-200mm f/4 @ 170mm, ISO 100, 1/8, f/16.0

The sun sank across the horizon, and the landscape began to light up in a soft gold-yellow hue. I was looking towards the sun, and that meant the dynamic range of the landscape was now too big to capture without mixing exposures. I was looking for other scenes to photograph and saw the formation of a rainbow from the reverse direction. The foreground wasn’t particularly appealingan uninteresting golf course with any intriguing characteristics. I snapped a single image of this course however, it didn’t turn out particularly well.

A beautiful rainbow, but an uninteresting landscape. NIKON D800E + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/30, f/5.0

At this moment, I was about 15 minutes away of the shore, which meant there was no chance of getting a picture of the rainbow. The waterfall I had previously scouted but was only few minutes away from the road. When I put my backpack down in the dirt, I walked to the spot, armed using my tripod and camera. As the sky grew, the rainbow became brighter before it began to fade.

As soon as I saw the waterfall that was visible in the distance I rigged up my tripod and shot the scene in a snap. The foreground was a lot superior to what I seen a few days earlier and had a fascinating fence running across the lower part of the image. Plus, the rainbow was clearly visible from the heavens however, it wasn’t as bright as it was before. I managed to get three pictures before the rainbow faded completely. The first photo — featuring the brightest rainbowended up being the most appealing:

This is the final photograph, the first of three images I took before the rainbow faded. NIKON D800E + 70-200mm f/4 @ 130mm, ISO 100, 1/2, f/16.0

Why did I pick this particular arrangement? Because the rainbow faded so quickly and the rainbow was so short, this was the initial design that came to the mind. I cropped the image to the aspect ratio of 4×3 as the most significant elements of the picture -the waterfall and the rainbow are located in the middle. They were overly distracting they did not add anything to the final picture. Every time I shoot I consider the overall harmony of the composition. In this particular photograph of a tranquil landscape I desired the left and right side of my composition have equally importance. The balance may not be ideal, but the minor differences are so small that they do not bother me.

The equipment I used was not anything unique. I utilized my 70-200mm telephoto because the waterfall would have been inaccessible with a wide-angle lens. I also applied an polarizing filter that made the water darker and — more importantly, it boosted the shades of the rainbow. I used f/16 to capture depth of field since the foreground was a lot smaller to the water. If I had used a larger aperture, my background might be a little blurry. (In fact, in the way it stands the background is slightly sharper as the background. I would have either stacked focus or used hyperfocal distance in the ideal scenario however, I was not able to make time to take any additional shots before the rainbow disappeared.)

In terms of post-production, I didn’t make any major changes. Most of the time, I increased general contrast as well as brightness. The colors are nearly identical to those in the initial RAW file, as any changes made to the file resulted in the rainbow looking blurry and uneven. I made a few local adjustments to the brightness of the waterfall itself, and dimmed some of the houses along the hill. Apart from cropping and a little sharpening, these are the only visible changes I madeit was a fairly easy photo to edit.

If anything else the most important thing I learned was this: waking up every day could produce beautiful photographs even if the sky is dull and dull. It definitely helped having an idea of where to go but the most important element of this picture is the fact that I was outside at all. The more you look for opportunities to photograph and the more you’ll be able to see surprising breathtaking images.