We have lived in Virginia for 26 1/2 yrs now. Right after arriving, I notified people that I would be close to in work and in life that I was a photographer and anything they could tell me or show me or direct me would be very much appreciated. I won. I’m quite sure it was in the first year hear that I heard about the Moonbow in Kentucky. Recall that I live in the area just 35 miles east of where Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky meet. You can stand in 3 states all at the same time if you place your feet properly. I got busy right off the bat doing surgery and taking care of the people in the area and didn’t get a good opportunity to make the trip. It’s 2+ hrs away near Corbin Kentucky and that’s all I knew. Then after the insanity killed the hospital, I had a wonderful young friend Josh Herring; he and his family had been patients of mine and Josh was an intellect like I see so few of. I talked Josh into driving me (I’m old now) to the waterfalls. It’s Cumberland Falls on the Cumberland River, outside of Corbin Ky. Having no idea of what we were getting into we went only a little prepared. I was told it had to be on a full moon, which is what makes the rainbow. Hmmmm.
So Josh drove my Ford Explorer with it’s pathetic 16 miles to the gallon. We followed signs and before long we were in a very wooded, mountainous area that had a tourist feel to it. The road was even more tortuous than lots I had experienced. Going downhill, we came to a log building stating Cumberland Falls Park or something like that, and across the road was a long elliptical parking lot that held maybe 50-60 cars. It was still daylight and we went on the main walkway past the log building towards the falls. There were lots and lots of people, it was June and it was Very hot and humid.The river flows under a bridge ** deep in a gorge and maybe a quarter mile where it drops about 80 feet over the falls. The bed of the river is one solid piece of rock. The land on the opposite side is almost a vertical cliff of solid rock, then the same rock under the water and depending on the amount of water, there would be rock exposed to some degree all the way back and under the park away from the water. Below the falls, there were large boulders, typical of such an hydrodynamic geologic feature. Heck, I’m confusing myself with my usual inept vocabulary. There was 100-150 ft of rock exposed leading to the falls, and there was a temporary chain link fence near the edge to prevent accidents and wandering children and crowd ever pushing forward to get a look at the falls. Being irregular, the walk out from the bank to the fence, about 200 ft, was a bit difficult even in the daytime.
It was really hot and humid out and it was only about 5pm. We decided to leave the falls and go into Corbin for dinner and that ultimately was followed by a movie. On the way out, we stopped at the log building which was a gift shop. There was a sign telling us the park closed at 9 pm. We asked if we could be able to come back and photograph the falls, and were told that they never close around the days with full moon. So, we went for dinner and a movie and now dark drove back to the falls. Josh kindly let me out near the gift shop and he went to park the car. The lot was almost completely filled and there were cars parked where they could without obstructing traffic. I had my camera and tripod and we started to walk into the park. There were many many people and frequently they’d put a flashlight beam onto our face and ask if we were there to photograph the falls. That happened a LOT. Then we left the bank and started across the solid bare rock to the edge. There were so many people we could barely get within 50 ft of the fence. We talked to a few people and I noted I was getting really hot. I decided to lay down on the rock until the crowd passed.
It was about 11 pm and the number was still over a hundred. One could see a light grey irregular shaft of light coming up out of the falls. This was the moonbow. While laying on the rock, I discovered why I was so hot…the rock had absorbed the heat from the sun and it was like an oven. I finally got so hot I was addled. About 12 midnight, the crowd had thinned but I was sweating so bad that I was dehydrated and severely so. Out of nowhere Josh came up with a bottle of water, and literally saved the day. I finally made it to the fence. There was a young guy beside me trying to capture the moonbow but was not having much success. I had my camera attached to the tripod and Was making minor efforts. I quickly realized it would take a long exposure so I started looking for “X” or “Bulb” setting on my Nikon D300. I had set the ISO at 200 not wanting to get the noise that would come with and ISO of 800. Still not finding the long exposure setting and getting more and more frustrated mostly from the heat, I decided to call my friend Jarrid Graham, as he has a D300 and would probably know where to find the now bastard setting. It was 1 AM, we called him on cell phone, only to discover he was on vacation in South Carolina and of course I wakened him. He had to turn on his computer and quickly gave me the answer. MUCH appreciated. I found the toggle, and checked with the guy next to me who was having so much trouble. I asked him what setting he used to get the image shown on his camera. I then set my camera to one and a half minutes, pushed the shutter button, got the photo presented here, one shot….folded up my tripod and we headed home. It was 1:30 AM.