Capturing the Moment: A Rainbow this Morning on The National Mall

Smithsonian Institution staff photographer Eric Long captured the moment this morning on his way to work

Photographer Eric Long captures a rainbow over the Air and Space Museum.
Photographer Eric Long captures a rainbow over the Air and Space Museum. Eric Long

My morning starts early, usually 6 a.m., and hopefully with a cup of coffee in hand to get me started, I walk to work. I saw the rainbow, one that I hadn’t seen in my 29 years as a Smithsonian Institution staff photographer, and I could only think of one thing—my camera. I hurried inside, grabbed what I could and dashed back out to the National Mall, knowing that the sun was rising and perfectly illuminating the north and east sides of the Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Institution “Castle” building. Photography is about capturing the moment, whether it be a space shuttle flying over DC, or a beautiful sunrise followed with a rainbow. As I took the shots, I continued walking towards the Castle because my experience has told me that another part of photography is working with the light that makes the moment possible. I caught the couple presumably on their way to work, the sunlight pleasantly warming their moment. At the Castle, the roses in the Katherine Dulin Folger garden are majestic this time of year. The heavy early morning rain had left water droplets on the pedals. The Castle doors of the east entrance are not normally closed at this time of day, a bit of luck for a passing photographer. I knew the sun striking the solid wood with the iron decoration would make for a handsome backdrop for the roses. On my walk back to work at the Air and Space Museum, I could see the sun striking the tall stems of the flowers, more photographic opportunity—a pleasant end to a morning shoot.

Eric F. Long is a staff photographer at the National Air and Space Museum. His recent work can be viewed in the new book A Guide to Smithsonian Gardens by Carole Ottesen.

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