Start Point Lighthouse, Devon, England by Chris Marshall

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Picture Story

It was a first for me, to see a circular rainbow, normally only seen from high in the sky from planes or tall cranes. The rainbow extended below my image and into the sea.

I was waiting patiently on the edge of the grassy cliff on this beautiful sunny February day with a cloudless blue sky and barely a breeze. The sun was directly behind me with my shadow pointing towards Start Point lighthouse. Deliberately positioned for a rainbow over the lighthouse.

On arrival I saw a random rain cloud and full bow from the car park so was hopeful for a photograph that I'd been after for a few years. For that moment, I felt I hadn't a care in the world with the sun on my back watching the gulls above the lighthouse and the waves gently rolling in beneath me. I positioned my camera to compose the shot and manually focusing on the lighthouse trying different settings taking practice shots. My Canon 5D mk2 and 16-35mm L lens was fitted with a ‘Rainbow Booster’ circular polariser. The polythene cover was always on my camera to protect it from seawater and spray. I had lens cloths at the ready and cable remote in hand. It wasn't a long wait!

The clouds appeared behind me from over the cliffs for a while then it happened!. A huge black rain cloud drifted from the left and over the lighthouse to make a wonderful graphite grey backdrop for the sunlit golden headland. “Where's the rainbow?” I said out loud to myself. Then ... BOOM! The heavens opened, the wind picked up followed by torrential rain. I could see a part rainbow to the right of the lighthouse and took some shots but the raindrops on the lens wasn’t making it easy. What a contrast from quietly chilling out in the sunshine to battling with the elements ‘Mr. Bean style’. The tail wind was continuously shaking the tripod on the springy grass and annoyingly the plastic rain cover blowing forwards obscuring the lens. An incredulous ‘WOW WOW WOW’ as the rainbow formed into a near full circle with the base of it below me at sea level. Everything was soaked from the rods of rain. I was frantically and hopelessly wiping the relentless rainfall off the lens trying to get a clean photograph of the breathtaking phenomenon. I wanted to video it with my phone but needed an extra pair of hands. I focused on capturing the wonderful conditions and scene with my DSLR camera only. The light was spectacular and I could see the rain swirls in the dark skies.

I managed about 30 shots knowing most of them were ruined by the droplets and smears plus many were blurred as the tail wind shook my tripod. The circle of colours disappointedly faded but I was in awe of what I had witnessed. The dark skies passed over as quickly as they came and I was left standing in the beautiful sunshine dripping wet with 3 sodden cloths.
I felt elated that I had experienced weather conditions well beyond my expectation seeing the "GLORY RAINBOW".

Behind the scene
• 1 3/4 hours driving including miles of single track muddy farm roads dodging the huge potholes.
• A painful walk with my foot sliding inside the wellies irritating an in-growing toenail.
• While jogging along the tarmac drive to the lighthouse to photograph the first rainbow , a £130 pro glass filter fell out of a holder attached to my lens onto the ground. Luckily no breakage surprisingly but chipped the corner.
• A freak wave went over the top of my wellies with a 3/4 mile trek uphill back to the car.
• Slipped over on my back into the deep thick mud walking back up a track. I lay there on my back temporarily sucked into the mud with a herd of bleating sheep looking down at me. Quite comical really.

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