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How to photograph a Double Rainbow

How to photograph a Double Rainbow

Walking down the street just after the storm, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

A double rainbow had formed over Manhattan Beach, where I live. I’ve seen rainbows in the sky before, but none this bright, nor of the double variety.

With nothing but my trusty iPhone 12 Pro Max by my side, I stepped off the Strand paved walkway and ran, as fast as I could down to the ocean waves. Because who knew just how long the rainbow would last?

I wanted to capture the whole thing with an object in-between, as that can really make the rainbow stand out. A shot over the ocean is cool. But why not the lifeguard tower? When’s the last time you saw a rainbow over one of the iconic L.A. symbols of beach life?

How I got what I think is one of my best shots ever I thought might be of interest to anyone, especially considering how I got there.

I started with part of the rainbow over the tower. Good, but we can do better. So I started moving back, and back and back, trying to capture the whole thing.

Stepping back helped, but I still couldn’t get the whole rainbow in there.

So I switched to the ultra-wide angle lens on the iPhone, which could have worked, had I cropped the shot considerably.

Then I tried to get the rainbow over the ocean, just for the heck of it. Eh?

A seagull over the rainbow is nice, but I still didn’t have the whole thing. So now I decided to try for panorama mode. This is when you take ultra-wide photos, two feet planted firmly on the ground, and shift your body to get in the whole scene, while keeping the camera level. Because otherwise, you’ll see some crazy horizon lines. The key to a good pano for me is to make it a small pano. Not an ultra-wide shot like you would see in an old John Ford movie, but one that uses the advantages of extending your initial shot by just a hair or two.

The pano worked pretty well and luckily, I didn’t get any weird horizon lines.

So now I added the extra touch, some edits using my free go-to mobile app, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I could achieve something similar by clicking the Edit button in Apple’s Photo program, but it wouldn’t be as great as Adobe. Because Lightroom has the “Dehaze” filter, my favorite go-to tool.

In the screenshots below, you can see exactly what the Dehaze filter does. It darkens the sky, which for this photo, was priceless, as it made the rainbow pop out just a little more.

I obviously cropped out my shadow as well.

So that’s how I got the double rainbow to pop over the lifeguard tower. Who knows if we’ll ever see something like that again. But words to the wise: the next time there’s a big rainstorm and it breaks, run out the door as fast as you can, because you never know what might be awaiting you. Amazing reflections in puddles, cloud formations to die for, or even a double rainbow.

And I even found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My shot!

In other news:

You’ve got to love Bob Beverly. The owner of the iconic Shellback Tavern in Manhattan Beach tells me about the sacrifices he made to keep his workers employed during the pandemic. Like selling a vacation house, two cars and a motorcycle. Watch as he tells me his story.

Coming next:

As promised, my in-depth review of the new Apple Mac Mini will be posted here in Saturday’s edition. How does it compare to the new MacBooks beyond being $500 cheaper? I’ve got some thoughts.

Thanks for taking the time to read, watch and listen. Did you enjoy this post? If so, click reply and let me know!


Jefferson Graham's PhotowalksTV newsletter - Tech & Travel
PhotowalksTV Podcast with Jefferson Graham
The PhotowalksTV podcast with Jefferson Graham is the companion to the YouTube travel photography series, featuring the writer-photographer and former USA TODAY columnist.