Seeing a double rainbow is a relatively rare treat, but how about three or four rainbows? Scientists have only reported seeing triple rainbows five times over the past 250 years, but German photographer Michael Theusner was recently able to capture this first ever photograph of a fourth-order rainbow. Ordinary rainbows (first and second order) appear in the area of the sky opposite the sun (and aren’t seen in his shot), but when higher order rainbows appear, they show up on the sunward side.
Last year, U.S. Naval Academy meteorologist Raymond Lee and a colleague, Philip Laven, laid out a prediction for the conditions that would produce third-order rainbows, and they challenged rainbow-chasers to go out and find one. Among the requirements: dark thunderclouds, and either a heavy downpour or a rainstorm with nearly uniform rain droplets. If the sun broke through the clouds under these conditions, it could project a dim tertiary rainbow against the dark clouds nearby, they said. [#]
Back in May, a photographer named Michael Grossman followed this advice and succeeded in capturing the first ever photo of a third-order rainbow. Lee’s challenge and Grossman’s success are what inspired Theusner to try his hand at photographing higher order rainbows. You can find more background info on Theusner’s blog and in his recently published scientific paper.
“Moonbows” are rainbows that appear at night under moonlight, and are difficult to see with human eyes but beautiful when captured in long exposure photographs. There aren’t many places on Earth where this phenomenon can be regularly witnessed, but a few of them are found at the waterfalls in Yosemite.
Steven Bumgardner, the video producer for the national park, spent two years moonbow hunting and shot over 20,000 still photos with a Canon 5D Mark II to create the time-lapse sequences seen in the video above. After watching, you might want to add “moonbows” your list of things to see and photograph (along with the northern lights, perhaps).
Photographer David Friedman was recently visiting his parents when he came across a photograph of himself taken almost 30 years ago, taped to a piece of construction paper. The paper was originally green, but indirect sunlight had faded the paper into a salmon-like orange color. When Friedman removed the photograph from the paper, he was surprised to find that the image had been burned onto the construction paper!
How wonderful is that? Over all that time hung on the wall, sunlight had bleached the construction paper everywhere it could. But since it couldn’t penetrate the darker areas of the photo, the corresponding parts of the construction paper underneath remained their original color.
Any light-sensitive surface can be used to make a photo, and I’ve seen everything used from leaves to grass. But I don’t remember seeing photos printed on construction paper, even though I know they’re sometimes used to make photograms as an activity for kids. But I did a little googling and found a couple other people who made a print on construction paper using similar methods, although deliberately and not over quite so long a time. [#]
If you have 30-years to spare, here’s a new photographic technique you can try your hand at.
Apparently airplanes travel a little too fast for the satellites that provide photos for Google Maps. It happened to capture this plane shooting across the sky over Hyde Park in Chicago, but separated the plane into a phantom plane and three RGB shadows. Anyone have an explanation for what caused this phenomenon?