The Story Behind the Rainbow over Aspen

Something that all landscape photographers need to know is that the worst weather can bring the best photo conditions. For example, without rain, there are no rainbows.
 
I would like to say that I had spent all day climbing to the top of some remote mountain to capture this image, but ... in this case, I was simply driving from a gas station back to the hotel. When the clouds on the western horizon broke open just enough for the sun to shine under the heavy cloud cover and into the rain, I simply pulled off the road at a safe location and started shooting. In this photo, the very warm-colored last sunlight of the day is illuminating the rain along with an aspen grove at the top of a mountain near the town of Aspen, CO.
 
From a compositional perspective, I would like to have moved the bright aspen grove and mountain peak to the right (or left) to about 1/3 of the way into the frame. To do that would have required me to drive to a new location. Rainbows and the sun shining through small openings in clouds are both fleeting opportunities and I was not going to chance missing the opportunity.
 
The leftmost rainbow was easily the most eye-catching subject, so I placed it in the 1/3 (maybe 1/4) frame position. The strong, bright rain easily balances the bright rainbow and the small, faint rainbow remains in the frame on the right. The dark land in the base of the frame works with the dark cloud at the top of the frame to bring the viewer's eye inward. The near-centered mountaintop then works for me in this case.
 
Without being able to significantly change perspective at this very long subject distance, a telephoto zoom lens allows flexibility in final subject framing.
 
I love unplanned images such as this one. The only requirement (beyond knowing how to use your gear) is being there. So, be there!
 
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