Jason Rinehart, the photographer, used his experience and the right equipment to get into position and take a picture of a bolt of lightning striking below a double rainbow at the perfect time.
Rinehart runs Hartlight Photography in Buchanan, Virginia. He’s popular for his long exposure light painting work, but he’s just as passionate about taking pictures of storms that show the natural light.
He tells me that he lives in a really amazing place, with a lot of easy-to-get-to spots where you can get great photos of nature. It’s in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, which gives him advantages that photographers in other areas don’t have.
Rinehart said he was driving home at night, looking at the radar maps and keeping watch on the line of storms in West Virginia. With his knowledge and experience, he figured out they would pass over his area in Virginia as the sun went down.
He explains that the line of storms was relatively small, just 20-30 miles wide. This made the sky especially amazing when the line passed overhead and combined with the setting sun during the blue hour.
He went to his favourite place, Pine Tree Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and just made it in time to see a beautiful shelf cloud closing in.
Once the shelf cloud got to me and I had to take shelter in my car for 20 minutes, I could look to the west and see the sun creating a beautiful, vibrant orange and pink colors. To the east, the storm was lighting up the sky.
Rinehart noticed that the rain had stopped and saw a beautiful rainbow appear. He quickly set up his Canon 6D with the Sigma 14-25mm lens plus a Haida rear mount six-stop ND filter. Then he started taking pictures rapidly so that he had a greater chance of capturing a lightning bolt.
He knew right away that this rainbow was going to be something special as it got bigger across the sky. He had seen rainbows before on the parkway, but none as bright and vibrant as this one. The colors were so incredible that they took his breath away. Being a photographer, he knew he had captured something really special, and in moments like these, no words are needed. The image speaks for itself.
The next thing that happened was amazing – a bolt of lightning fell from the sky and was perfectly placed inside a stunning rainbow. I couldn’t help but smile when I heard the sound of my camera shutter, because I knew I had taken the perfect photo that I’d been trying to get.
Rinehart believes that having a passionate interest in something and being able to share it with others is a wonderful thing. He feels it is these moments that make him feel the most alive.
I often tell people who come to my workshops throughout the year that some of the best landscape photographers never travel far from where they live. They become familiar with their surroundings, and learn how the light, weather, and movement of the environment can result in great images.
Rinehart argues that understanding your surroundings is just as important for taking a great picture as being prepared and patient. This combination of factors can give photographers the opportunity to take amazing shots, like his picture of a rainbow and a lightning bolt side by side.
He said that it felt like he was right where he belonged, at exactly the right time to get a great shot.