I recently came across this photograph when perusing some images from the Carol M. Highsmith Collection, and, hailing from the American West, I was cheered by its familiar landscape – not to mention the symmetry of the rainbow. As the title of the image indicates, the hint of a second rainbow is visible above the brighter arc.
Curious to see how and where other photographers in the collections might have captured rainbows, I sought out more examples.
Reproducing this elusive visual phenomenon in photographic form is difficult, so it is no surprise that most other photographs in the collection display only partial rainbows. This rainbow, situated in a landscape continents away, was captured by Russian photographer Sergei M. Prokudin-Gorskii more than 100 years before Highsmith photographed the scene along Route 66.
William Craft Brumfield, known for his photography of wooden architecture in the north of Russia, snapped this photograph showing a rainbow and its reflection in the Irtysh River in Omsk one morning in 1999.
Much further to the south and east, in the Himalayan mountains at Lachung, Sikkim, photographer Alice Kandell captured this shot.
Taken by Arnold Genthe sometime between 1906 and 1912, the following photograph displays a rainbow at the Grand Canyon that is nearly the mirror image of the one in the above photograph by Kandell. All of these photographs demonstrate that wherever and whenever a picture is taken, a rainbow enhances a scene.
- Explore the Carol M. Highsmith Collection. See other views related to Route 66 by Highsmith.
- Read about and search for more images by Sergei M. Prokudin-Gorskii. This blog post — Unlocking the Color: Photographs by Sergei M. Prokudin-Gorskii, 1909 to 1915 — offers insight into how these images from the first decades of the 20th century were rendered into color.
- Learn about the images by William C. Brumfield in the collection, and see some examples of the pre-Soviet wooden architecture he documented.
- View more information about the Sikkim photographs by Alice Kandell.
- Peruse more autochrome (color) images by Arnold Genthe.