Rainworks

The day dawned hot and dry, with only a few wispy clouds scudding along the horizon. By midday, those clouds had dissipated, and the wind began to lay. Then, the passage of the sea breeze brought more clouds, and a sudden burst of rain.

Lasting no more than three or four minutes, the rain soaked the cypress trees outside my window; with the return of late afternoon sunlight, droplets of water began to sparkle and shine.

When a sudden flash of color caught my eye, I began to watch the interplay of water and light. Despite the absence of violet and indigo, the vibrant and endlessly changing colors of the droplets suggested nature had disassembled a rainbow, and hung it from my trees.

 

 

Comments always are welcome.

66 thoughts on “Rainworks

  1. Rainworks.. nice title! The range of drop colours are fascinating. I was surprised to see a Green drop, and a bright Blue. What fun!

    1. Notice that the second, fourth, and fifth photos show the same drop, but different colors. That only added to the fascination. And to think I only had to travel about ten feet to capture the sight: the distance necessary to get my telephoto lens.

    1. I’d never seen anything like it. Poking around in various sites, I found several references to the fact that, in a rainbow, each raindrop reflects only one color. That’s what led me to imagine this as a disassembled rainbow.

  2. I’ve not seen anything quite like that with the changing colors. Often I’ll see a sunburst captured in a dewdrop but not with such vibrance. Well seen, Linda.

    1. When I grabbed the camera, it hadn’t occurred to me that I might capture them as little starbursts; I only was fascinated by the color. The colors were shifting so quickly there wasn’t time to mess with settings, but it worked out all right. Only after I’d looked at the images on the computer did I realize that the second, fourth, and fifth photos appear to show the same droplet, with different colors.

    1. It certainly was a new sight for me, David. In the process of trying to understand what I’d seen, I learned that each raindrop in a rainbow reflects only one color; that’s what led me to imagine this as a disassembled rainbow.

    1. We both were up to the same thing, Derrick. I shot these photos through the window next to my desk. Then, I did a little window washing myself, albeit after the fact.

    1. This was one of those occasions when I had no idea what I was seeing, but I knew I had to take some photos of the phenomenon. When I got starbursts as well as color, I was pleased as well as astonished.

  3. “There’s something happening here / But what it is ain’t exactly clear”—even if your photographs are. You’ve discovered something none of the rest of us (who’ve commented so far) seem to have noticed. Strange are the ways of Opticks, as Newton spelled it.

    1. A sudden breeze, a slight change in the angle of the sunlight, inattention on my part — a change in any number of variables and the moment would have been lost. Despite a good bit of time on the Atmospheric Optics and other online sites, I’m still not certain exactly how the effect was produced. It’s time to consult with Jim Ruebush, our resident physicist, again.

      1. I think this site gives a good explanation of how the colors are produced and viewed when light enters raindrops. https://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/climate-weather/storms/rainbow2.htm

        I don’t know how the position of the sun and drops and you were arranged. Normally, rainbows are made when the sun is low at our back shining into drops in the direction of our shadow. The bow arcs over our shadow.

        If there was some wiggle of the branches due to a breeze, the angles would slightly change and cause the colors to change from each drop.

        That is How I See It. Beautiful photos.

        1. What a great article. I’d come across some of those details in other places, but they weren’t so well explained. The scenario you described was exactly how things were arranged. I was inside, sitting at my desk in the later afternoon; the tree was to the east and the sun essentially behind me in the west, at a relatively low angle.

          There was some wiggle in the branches to cause the color change, but it wasn’t from the wind, which had stopped blowing. Instead, the wiggle was from a couple of squirrels running around in the branches!

            1. What model of squirrel do you have? Ours are the grey. Hardly ever see a red one. Now and then we get a black one the same size as the greys.

            2. Our blacks are genetic variants of the greys. Your rock squirrels are different, kind of pretty. The article I read said they hibernate.

    1. I’m used to seeing birds and squirrels in those trees, but this was new, and totally unexpected. It’s a good reminder to look up and out now and then. There’s no telling what’s out there!

    1. To be honest, when I first noticed the color of the drops, I didn’t think much about it. We’ve all seen dew or raindrops sparkling in the sun. But when I realized the individual drops were different colors — well, there was nothing for it but to grab the camera. It was one of the prettiest — and oddest — sights I’ve ever seen.

    1. Aren’t they beautiful? The green and blue really stood out. When I finally read that each drop in a rainbow exhibits only one color, I was amazed. It makes sense when I think about it, but if it’s true, I had the tiniest, most disembodied rainbow in the world hanging about in that tree.

    1. It’s an amazing sight, isn’t it? I’m so glad I saw the drops in the first place, and I was really glad that the photos came out so they could be shared.

    1. The thought of a decorated Christmas tree crossed my mind, Debbie. Some people here leave their Christmas lights up all year round; maybe Nature got jealous and decided to adopt the trend! It certainly was a beautiful sight, and probably one I’ll not see again. No matter — we have the photos.

    1. I’ve been hanging around this earth for nearly seventy-five years, and I never have seen such a thing. I do see quite a few neat atmospheric events, like halos, and of course everyone knows about water hose rainbows and such, but this was completely different. As you say, it was extra cool!

    1. I’d never seen anything like it, that’s for sure. I was surprised by the vibrancy of the colors. Even seen through glass, from my desk, they fairly glowed.

      1. I’ve noticed similar in winter with water melting off branches and evergreens. Flakes of snow will act as prisms of light as well. The low angle of the sun helps create that effect I think.

  4. Like the man says, God is in the details. We can get caught up in the vistas and the sweep but it’s the details that matter.

    1. So true. Both view have something to offer — and in the case of places like Palo Duro, they offer a good bit — but a closer look often reveals things that aren’t visible to someone standing on the rim.

  5. That’s a remarkable set of photos, Linda. Beautifully captured. Isn’t it remarkable what we can see when we pay attention? Thanks for sharing this!

    1. If nothing else, the photos prove that (1) it never hurts to look up from our desks, and (2) there’s no telling what we’ll see if we do! I’ve always made sure my desk is by a window, and in this instance it paid off in an unusual way.

    1. We had a couple of days of rain a week or so ago. The totals weren’t great in my neighborhood, but we got about 1.25″, which helped. Other spots got 4″-9″ — farther east and toward the coast. That said, the rain shower that produced these droplets couldn’t have been measurable in inches, but it surely provided a good bit of pleasure.

    1. Magical is exactly the right word. Every now and then I see something that leaves me thinking, “What in the world…?” and this was one of those times. I’m glad I have the photographic proof of what I saw.

  6. You know, this is my immediate ripple: these exquisite photos would make excellent cinematography for a Stephen King movie.

      1. I’m no Stephen King expert either, but just saying these photos give out mysterious and suspenseful vibes… also fantasy evoking. Beautiful takes. 😉

    1. It was like an ephemeral spring flower: pretty, but not at all long-lasting. It’s common enough to say someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but in this instance I was in the right place at the right time.

    1. I certainly never have seen anything like it. Prismatic effects are common enough, and of course rainbows, but this was unexpected and highly unusual.

    1. If it was, I wonder what “they” were trying to say? Maybe it’s a subtle advertisement for Taco Cabana, or a side hustle of a quirky city engineer.

    1. That’s interesting; I didn’t know that you call fairy lights ‘string lights.’ When I hear the phrase ‘fairy light,’ I think of the Clark,Cricklite, and Nailsea fairy lamps from the Victorian/Art Nouveau period. I’m lucky to have three; my favorite is a light blue satin glass. When it comes time to evacuate for hurricanes, that little gem goes with me.

  7. Wow, very interesting! The whole idea of disassembling a rainbow… not something I’d considered before but I really like it.

    1. I’d never thought of it either, but somehow the thought of a Christmas tree seemed just wrong. I kept reading about rainbows and such, and suddenly thought, “What if some celestial prankster hit a rainbow with a lightning bolt? Would it fall to pieces?” Maybe!

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