Weather News

Rain, lightning and a rainbow in one spectacular photo

Ben Domensino, Friday December 4, 2020 - 13:23 EDT

After getting home from work on a warm afternoon in November, Hunter Valley-based landscape photographer Adam Williams saw that a storm was about to hit.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity for a storm photo, he grabbed the keys and camera and went out to see what the sky had in store.

"I thought I'll just go for a drive and see what happens" he recounted on Instagram, where Adam publishes some of his images under the username @finding_awe_photography.

Adam may have set out hoping for a decent storm photo. But what he captured was a rare combination of weather phenomena that only happens when the sun, storm and photographer are in exactly the right spots.

Image: Lightning and a rainbow next to sunlit rain during a storm near Broke, NSW on November 20. Source: @finding_awe_photography

The image, which can be found on Adam's instagram page, shows a sunlit column of rain, cloud-to-ground lightning strikes and a rainbow, all underneath an ominous thunderstorm cloud in the one picture.

The low angle of the late-afternoon sun, which was setting behind Adam when he took the photo, provided the unique conditions that made this photo possible.

As the storm rolled past Adam's camera lense, light from the setting sun illuminated the falling raindrops. This helped the rain stand out from the surrounding green grass and the dark grey storm clouds.

Where the incoming sunlight hit the falling raindrops at an angle of 42 degrees relative to Adam's view, a partial rainbow appeared between the cloud and the ground. This angle was necessary for sunlight being reflected and refracted by the raindrops to reach Adam's camera in a visible range of colours.

This all happened at the same time lightning struck between the cloud and the ground, right next to the rainbow and the sunlit shower.

The position of Adam and the thunderstorm relative to the setting sun, whether intentional or not, allowed this spectacular photo to be captured.

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