Photo Essay

Yosemite National Park Rainbows

There are so many rainbows and so little time. I probably could do a book about Yosemite rainbows, but these11 will have you looking harder next time you are out hunting for rainbow photographs. Some of these rainbow conditions no one has ever seen as far as I can tell. The main photo is from Yosemite Upper falls and I stumbled on it while going to the general store. To get it use a telephoto lense 200mm+. I love the tree in the bow. It can be found in the winter around 9AM. Bridalveil Fall will give a rainbow almost any time of year. It can get a little wet to capture one so keep a bag over your camera. In this case the bag was not enough. Lower Yosemite falls is also an easy rainbow to get, but go early before people crowd the falls area. It is not shown do to photo limitations.

As far as I know, no one has ever gotten a rainbow in ribbon falls except my photographer buddy next to me when I took this shot. The sun was right behind us, we were on the rim in the middle of snow and middle of winter. This has to be the thickest rainbow ever on the longest North American waterfall. Another rare rainbow is the icicles with colors inverted from the normal sequence. I've only seen these from one spot in Yosemite and it is rare to find crystal clear icicles as in this area. I also remind photographers not forget to look up. I was with several other photographers in Yosemite taking pictures of Bridalveil Fall from the main road. They all walked away without looking up and seeing a rare sight -- a Sun Dog in Yosemite Valley! Formed from ice crystals catching the sun. Usually seen in desert areas in mid afternoon. This one was in mid morning.

The water along the Tuolumne River in Yosemite was just fantastic in 2010 and will be so again in 2011 with 120% snow pack in the Sierras. For me, this river is rainbow heaven. They hit along most of the falls, but those near Glen Aulin and down are the best. A polarizer will help on some of them to cut the reflection of light off the walls.

Summer also brings the light into Vernal Falls to enable those double bow shots. Nevada Fall should also be possible; I just have a hard time getting excited about that fall and have not worked on it. Ansel Adams shot the top, which was interesting, but no rainbow in black and white.

I didn't set out to get these rainbows, but it is a joke with my friends that they get more rainbows with me than anyone else, uncanny.

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2 responses

  • Judy and Wayne Wanamaker

    Judy and Wayne Wanamaker gave props (3 Mar 2011):

    What a unique and wonderful essay about this magical phenomenon! Your photos are stunning, and should be published in a book. voted.

  • Robin Perkins

    Robin Perkins gave props (4 Mar 2011):

    just super wonderful, got my vote

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