rainbow across the lake Photo by Ken Cheung on Unsplash

A Beginner's Guide to Shoot Stunning Rainbow Pictures

February 21, 2023

Rainbow photography has become increasingly popular in the past few years, and it’s easy to understand why. Nothing quite captures the beauty of nature like a rainbow in a picture. Rainbows are also a great way to add color to an otherwise dull landscape.

This article will provide a beginner’s guide to shooting stunning rainbow pictures, including a list of must-have gear, pro tips for taking stunning rainbow photos, and creative ways to make the rainbow appear in your photos. So if you’re ready to take your rainbow photography to the next level, let’s get started.

Must-Have Gear for Rainbow Photos


Lenses can help capture the full range of colors in a rainbow and the unique shapes and patterns of the different hues. They also allow photographers to adjust the depth of field, which can help to create more interesting and dynamic rainbow images.

Sigma 24mm F/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens

Image Credit: amazon.com

Wide-angle lenses, such as a 24mm lens, are useful for capturing the full extent of the rainbow and its surrounding environment. A wider field of view allows for more of the landscape in the frame, giving the rainbow greater context and making for a more striking image.

Telephoto lenses allow for a closer, more detailed look at the rainbow. With a longer focal length, a telephoto lens can bring the rainbow into closer view, allowing for a more intimate look at its color and shape. Some telephoto lenses you can use are 70-200mm and 100-400mm.

A Tripod

Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 Aluminum Tripod

Image Credit: amazon.com

A tripod helps keep the camera steady and reduces camera shake, ensuring sharp and clear images. Using a tripod also allows you to take long exposures, which is essential when capturing the full arc of a rainbow, especially in low-light conditions. You can use the Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 Aluminum Tripod or Gitzo Series 5 Systematic Tripod for the best results when taking rainbow photos.

Rain Protector

OpTech Rainsleeve

Image Credit: amazon.com

A rain cover protects the camera and lens from rain, moisture, and other elements that could damage the equipment. This is especially important when shooting rainbows, which often occur during rainy or humid conditions. The rain cover helps the photographer continue shooting without worrying about damage to their equipment. Examples of rain covers for cameras you can purchase are OpTech Rainsleeve and Think Tank Hydrophobia.

A Polarizing Filter


Image Credit: amazon.com

A polarizing filter blocks reflected light and reduces the scattered light that reaches the camera lens. This results in a clearer and more vivid image, with more defined and brighter rainbow colors. Additionally, polarizing filters can darken the sky, making the rainbow stand out more prominently. By using a polarizing filter, photographers can capture more accurate and vivid representations of rainbows. If you are looking for a nice polarizing filter for your camera, you can use the K&F Concept 77mm circular polarizing filter.

Pro Tips for Stunning Rainbow Pictures

1. Look for an Interesting Foreground

double rainbow across the lake

Photo by David Wirzba on Unsplash

When capturing a rainbow in a photo, having an interesting foreground can help to make the image more visually appealing. This foreground serves as a context for the rainbow, making the scene more dynamic and enhancing the overall impact of the photo.

Look for visually interesting objects and provide a clear contrast to the rainbow, such as trees, mountains, architecture, or people. This will make the rainbow stand out and give the image a greater sense of scale and depth.

2. Use a Small Aperture

By reducing the size of the aperture, you are allowing less light to enter the camera, which can help create a greater depth of field. This means that more of the colors in the rainbow will be visible, allowing for a more vibrant and vivid picture.

rainbow with birds flying-by on the farm

Photo by Gavin Allanwood on Unsplash

Additionally, a small aperture will help to create a sharper image, as the light is spread over a smaller area. This will help to create a more defined and striking rainbow image.

3. Use Manual Focus

Manual focus can be a great tip for taking stunning rainbow pictures because it will allow you to get the sharpest, most colorful image possible. When shooting rainbows, it cannot be easy to get everything in focus, as the colors can be so varied and intense. Manual focus will ensure you get the clearest, most vibrant colors possible.

It also allows you to precisely adjust the focus point to ensure that the rainbow is well-defined and in the foreground of the image. As the rainbow will be the show's star, this will help to create a more visually appealing image.

rainbow in the sky above mountain high

Photo by Look Up Look Down Photography

4. Experiment With Different Focal Lengths

Different focal lengths can create different effects on the image, such as making the rainbow more or less prominent than the background. A longer focal length (telephoto) will compress the background and make the rainbow stand out more, whereas a shorter focal length (wide-angle) will make the rainbow appear smaller and more subtle.

5. Find the Right Angle

When capturing a rainbow in a photo, you have three options:

  • You can choose to show the entire arc of the rainbow.
  • You can focus on the endpoint where the rainbow meets the ground.
  • You can take an aerial shot from a plane or helicopter, resulting in a circular image of the rainbow's arc.

double rainbow on the mountain

Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash

Each of these perspectives creates a distinctive and eye-catching effect. Experimenting with these options can lead to the creation of captivating and intriguing photographs.

6. Look For Leading Lines

Leading lines could be rivers, roads, paths, or other elements that draw the viewer's attention and help them appreciate the beauty of the rainbow. By using leading lines, photographers can draw attention to the rainbow and make it stand out in the image. They can also help to create depth, allowing the viewer to appreciate the rainbow more three-dimensionally.

Creative Ways to Make Rainbow in Your Photo

Here are some creative ways to make a rainbow in your photo:

1. Crystal Ball Prism

rainbow photo by crystal bar

Photo by Braxton Apana on Unsplash

The crystal ball is a clear, spherical glass object that refracts light passing through it, separating the light into its color components and creating a rainbow effect. This can be particularly effective when the sun or other light source shines directly onto the crystal ball, and the camera is positioned to capture the refracted light.

To use a crystal ball prism to create a rainbow in your photo, you will need to position the crystal ball in the path of the light source and adjust the angle of the ball until you have the desired rainbow effect. You can place your camera before the crystal ball, focusing on the rainbow effect, and take your photo.

2. Passing Light Through Mist

rainbow under the foggy mountain

Photo by calvin chou on Unsplash

This involves using a light source, such as the sun or a flashlight, to shine through a cloud of mist or spray, and capturing the resulting rainbow effect with your camera. To create this effect, you must create a cloud of mist or spray in front of the light source.

This can be done using a spray bottle filled with water or a mist-generating device. Once you have the mist or spray in place, you can shine the light source through it and adjust the angle of the light until you have the desired rainbow effect.

3. Shining Light Through Still Water

rainbow on the ocean

 Photo by FotoHelin on shutterstock

This is achieved by shining a light source, such as the sun or a flashlight, through a container of still water. The light will pass through the water and refract or bend, creating a rainbow-like effect. To achieve this effect in your photos, place a container of still water in front of the light source or in front of your camera lens so that the light shines through it and creates the rainbow effect.

When photographing this effect, it's important to consider the angle of the light source, the amount of water in the container, and the angle at which you shoot the photo to get the best results.

4. A Rainbow Suncatcher

rainbow dots around the hanging crystal decorations

 Photo by FotoHelin on shutterstock

This is a decorative item that is made to capture and display the colors of a rainbow. It's typically made of clear or colored glass or plastic discs hung in a window and is meant to capture the light and display the colors of the rainbow when the light shines through it.

Rainbow suncatchers can be used creatively in photography to make a rainbow appear in your photos. You can accomplish this by placing the suncatcher in front of the camera lens or holding it up in front of your subject to reflect the colors in the photograph.


Rainbow photography is an exciting and rewarding way to bring vibrant colors to your photos. By following this beginner's guide, you will be able to capture stunning rainbow photos with ease. From understanding the essential gear to using different techniques and experimenting with angles and focal lengths, you will be well-equipped to create beautiful and unique rainbow images. So, the next time you're out shooting, don't forget to look for the rainbow; you never know what beautiful images you'll capture.

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