Australian Weather Calendar
August: Capturing a mist bow
There's nothing like 30 years of landscape photography experience, comfortable hiking boots, and the iron will to rise from your sleeping bag before dawn to watch the mist rise from mountain lakes in Tasmania's Southwest National Park to give you a chance of a memorable image. Grant Dixon hiked into the Mount Anne Range in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area one November—when the weather is often clear, and mist possible—and was rewarded with this mist bow, a not uncommon phenomenon at this time of year.
'You've got to be aware of the possibility, climb to a vantage point, and be ready to react to something ephemeral emerging from the rising mist which might last only seconds,' he says. Grant, a Hobart-based earth scientist with Tasmania's Parks and Wildlife Service, rarely goes on weekend photography expeditions; he prefers to plan longer expeditions with time to explore and maximise photographic opportunities, and may spend a total of six weeks in the bush through summer. Alone, preferably, to maximise flexibility: 'Companions on some earlier trips got sick of hanging around while I took photographs.'
While he enjoys heavy hiking in the remote wilderness he loves, the heavy loads that come with carrying up to 8kg of camera gear in an already-laden backpack are just something one has to get used to. Digital technology has lightened that load only a little. Grant has photographed landscapes in all continents, and has gone twice to Antarctica.
Rainbows form when sunlight is refracted (bent) and reflected while passing through a raindrop. Different colours refract light at different angles, giving a rainbow its colourful appearance. Mist bows form in a similar way, but the much smaller water droplets also diffract (scatter) light in all directions. There is less separation and more overlap of colours, giving mist bows a whitish appearance.