As I’ve shared on numerous occasions in this space, I love photographing lightning. But that is not the only act of nature that will send me into a tizzy as I grab van keys, camera bag, tripod and shoes, in no specific order. I also relish a good moon rise, sunset and rainbow.

As I’ve shared on numerous occasions in this space, I love photographing lightning. But that is not the only act of nature that will send me into a tizzy as I grab van keys, camera bag, tripod and shoes, in no specific order. I also relish a good moon rise, sunset and rainbow.

While most would suspect that lightning is the most challenging to capture because of the short-lived existence of a bolt of lightning, each event mentioned presents unique challenges.

Every day features a sunset, but not every sunset is worth photographing. There are only a few days each month when the moon has real photographic appeal. Rainbows are indeed a rare treat since a number of conditions have to be in sync to produce one. And even then they tend to be not full, short-lived and faint.

That is why last Thursday evening’s rainbow was one of, if not the most awesome, I’ve ever seen. For a time, it was bright enough to almost make you squint to look at it. It was a beautifully full arc, stretching from one horizon to another. It also was visible for the better part of half an hour.

Also working in my favor was the fact it didn’t catch me by surprise. As I watched the western sky darken early Thursday evening, I suspicioned that if the sun popped out after what proved to be an impressive little storm rolled through, there might be a rainbow to chase and photograph.

While I accurately forecast the rainbow, its appearance still caught me unprepared. Rather than standing at some scenic vista with camera in hand when it appeared, I was stationed in my kitchen ladling beans from a crock pot into storage containers in an effort to help my wife, Nancy, be able to accompany me on my photo quest. With each scoop I could feel my sense of urgency growing.

With Nancy riding shotgun, we motored east on Broadway as I ran through different scenic spots from which to photograph the rainbow. Just west of Grand Avenue, I all but stopped the van in traffic in order to climb out and shoot the rainbow, whose northern leg appeared to come down smack in the middle of Broadway just up a few blocks ahead. As I stood in the roadway, seemingly oblivious to the traffic approaching from behind, Nancy began shouting out when it was crucial that I move my fanny out of harm’s way.

Probably wishing she’d stayed at home instead of choosing to go out for a ride with a rainbow chasing mad man, Nancy shifted to the middle seat of our van, to give me better access to the passenger side door, which because of mechanical issues is the only one we use in the van we were in.

Next came a stop at Clemens Field, where I raced across the outfield in pursuit of more shots like Cavemen centerfielder Kyle Gaedele tracking a shot off an opponent’s bat.

We then hurried to the riverfront, where I noticed cars full of passengers would pull up, stop and savor the beauty of the moment like one might the flavor of a fine wine. Meanwhile, I continued to take in the colorful display in gulps, like a finalist in a beer-chugging contest.

With the rainbow now beginning to fade as the sun dipped lower behind the western horizon, I wanted to get a final shot of it behind the beautiful steeple of the First Presbyterian Church only a couple of blocks away. Falling in behind a pickup, it was quickly evident from its pace that it had become separated from a funeral procession. As I pounded the steering wheel in frustration, I heard my wife saying in a soft voice from behind, “Breathe ... breathe.”


I’m afraid my frantic pace spoiled the perfect rainbow for Nancy, who admitted later never leaving the van out of fear that in my haste I might have left her behind. While I seriously doubt that would have happened, if it had I’d have returned ... eventually.

Danny Henley writes for the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post.