I’m a weather nut, geek, groupie, whatever you want to call me. The weather has fascinated me since I was a child. My wife will verify that I get antsy in severe weather. I’ve tried to channel that excitement and energy into practical action. I’ve been a severe weather spotter for the National Weather Service since 1975.
Imagine my surprise when the fog rolled in off of the Atlantic Ocean while walking a beach near Mayport, FL one afternoon. I was surprised and thrilled to see this rare fogbow appear. I was extremely fortunate to be at the right place at the right time because fogbows don’t last long and are seldom photographed.
Fogbows are cousins to rainbows. Fogbows form from the sun reflecting in millions of tiny water droplets that make up the fog. Since it takes one million cloud droplets to make a single rain droplet, the fog droplets are too small to adequately refract the colors that create rainbows. Consequently, the fogbows shine bright white but only for a brief time. Because of their color, fogbows are also called ghost rainbows, white rainbows, or cloud bows.
You can get a feel for the size of the fogbow by comparing the people below the far left end of the weather phenomenon. “Fogbow” is my Photo of the Week.”
Under the watchful eye of the waxing February moon, a rogue thunderstorm glided over the Atlantic Ocean near the Florida/Georgia line. The slanting rays of the early evening sun beautifully illuminated the billowing cumulonimbus cloud and created a colorful rainbow in the process. Of course, the moon, too, reflected the sun’s warm light.
It looked like another dreary fall day in Holmes County, Ohio. The forecast called for more rain, and chilly temperatures.
I sat sullenly eating my bowl of cereal. To the west, dark storm clouds gathered.
Suddenly things brightened up outside. The sun had broken through the morning haze, and in an instant, the world was full of light. I ran for my camera.
My eyes moved to the horizon a mile northwest of us. A white farmhouse glowed in the low, sharp-angled sun rays. The oaks and maples around the house radiated their peak colors.
Then I noticed Fryburg, the little crossroads that features a cemetery, a white clapboard church building, and a white house. The sun highlighted its deciduous trees, too.
The farmstead behind our house was equally illuminated. I snapped a picture from our back porch. I looked northeast and saw the top of another neighbor’s sugar maple wonderfully lit. I got that one, too.
The closer the storm clouds came, the greater the contrasts. I zoomed in on two maples split by a faded farm gate leading to a pasture high on the hill behind our house.
I thought I was done taking pictures, until I realized I had only just begun. A brilliant, short, stubby rainbow connected the approaching storm clouds with the golden earth below.
I had been so focused on the pretty details all around me that I had failed to see the obvious, a much more beautiful big picture. In my haste to capture specific images, I had overlooked the stunning scene in its entirety.
The complete setting was like a jigsaw puzzle of a lovely landscape. I had been photographing individual pieces of a much prettier picture. Once I saw the countryside as a whole, however, I clicked away, occasionally zooming in on the rainbow itself.
I couldn’t believe how short, wide and brilliant the rainbow was. Just as it began to grow into that familiar arch, the rainbow disappeared altogether. Clouds interfered with the sun’s rays, reducing the refracting light through the raindrops that create the sky’s promise.
Later I went to a local business, and took my camera to share my photos with the staff there. Before I could say anything, one person after the other asked me if I had seen the rainbow.
“Wasn’t it amazing?” I asked. When they began to share what they had seen, it didn’t resemble mine at all. For them, the rainbow was to the left, thin, and arching high into the sky. My short, fat rainbow was to the right of the storm.
Their perspective on the rainbow was much different than mine. Yet, we had viewed the exact same thing.
Isn’t that the way with the world though? What we think is absolute and certain turns out not to be that way. All it takes is trustworthy input on the subject from a different perspective.
The two angles of viewing the same grandeur were legitimate, true, and exhilarating. As spectacular as my view was of the rainbow, those captured from a different angle were equally stunning.
Neither perspective was right or wrong. They just were, and both were amazing. What an important life lesson we had learned.
I was overjoyed to see the rainbow from my vantage point. To see the same scene from another’s perspective made it even more spectacular.
I shot this photo rather quickly. I was on an errand when these colors caught my eye. I stopped my vehicle, and took the photo out the window, zooming in between several trees.
Though mostly pastel, the colors appeared bright hanging on the laundry line in the late evening sun. It wasn’t until I downloaded the picture to my computer that I realized the personal aspect of the colors. They told a story all their own about the style preferences of the woman or women in this Amish family.