Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Photographer's dream came true over the rainbow

Enquirer's Hartong waited 8 years for just the right shot

By Mike Pulfer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Nothing in recent memory of staffers at The Enquirer struck a chord with readers the way photojournalist Glenn Hartong's rainbow photo did. The color photo appeared in March, and readers immediately began calling to ask for copies. Since its publication, readers have ordered about 1,700 prints.

  • Click here to order a color print (8x10 inches or 11x14 inches).
  A special 16-by-20-inch version is available in the customer service center in the Enquirer Building lobby, 312 Elm St., downtown. Prices: $20-$60. Note: Image areas are 4x9, 5 1/2x13 or 8x19.
  • Send an e-postcard
  • Download the picture for wallpaper
        If you thought you were pleased to see the rainbow photo on the front page of the Enquirer, you should have seen Mr. Hartong when he shot it.

        “I was literally hopping up and down,” he said. “When I saw what I got, I couldn't help it.”

        Mr. Hartong, who has been taking pictures for the newspaper for 12 years, had been waiting for his rainbow moment for eight.

        “I had a couple of near misses,” he said. Beautiful rainbows, but not the perfect conditions he had hoped for.

        “To my mind, it's not much of a photo unless it's over the (downtown Cincinnati) skyline,” he said. “That's the shot I was looking for.”

        The earlier shots chronicled rainbows over downtown Newport and Christ Hospital in Mount Auburn.

        So he waited. From the time he discussed shooting techniques with a rainbow photographer in Yellowstone National Park in 1993, he waited, his enthusiasm mounting.

        He was waiting for nothing in particular on March 13 at the Philadelphia Street Burger King in Covington. It was about 2 in the afternoon. He had just driven his Ford Explorer away from the pick-up window with a double cheeseburger and milk.

  • Glenn Hartong, 41, Springfield Township
  • Enquirer photo staff, Ohio News Photographers Association's “staff of the year” in 1998 and 2000
  • Frame 17 of 38 frames, all shot in 1 minute, 37 seconds
  • First frame: top of the hill (“Too far back...Too much clutter.”)
  • Final frames: halfway down hill, off to the right
  • Nikon D1 (digital)
  • F stop: F-10 (between F-8 and F-11)
  • Shutter speed: 1/400 second
  • ASA 200 JPEG file
  • Gortex rain coat
  “I wish I had had a large-format film camera with me, but I'm real pleased with how the digital did.”
        “I was sitting in the car, facing east, and I saw some really dark clouds and it was starting to sprinkle a little bit,” he said. “I thought, "Those dark clouds are pretty neat,' then I saw a little sun hitting the skyline.

        “Uh-oh,” he thought. “This could be it.”

        He knew exactly where he should be. Immediately.

        “I put my stuff (food) aside and drove up to Devou Park as fast as I legally could,” he said.

        When he arrived at the park overlook about three minutes later, there was still no rainbow, but “there was a brightly lit skyline against a really dark sky. I thought, “OK, I'll shoot that. ...

        “As I put the camera up to my eye, that's when the rainbow appeared,” he said. “I first saw it in the view-finder.”

        To the east/northeast, the rainbow spanned the Ohio River, linking Kentucky and Ohio, with downtown Cincinnati and Covington underneath.

        Fifty-seven seconds and several downhill steps after his first frame, Mr. Hartong had what he wanted. Thirty-nine seconds after that, the rainbow began to disappear.

        “The whole thing — from the first whiff of flame-broiled beef to the successful shot — took place in less than five minutes,” he said.

        His personal celebration was less lengthy.

        “A guy drove by, looking at me like, "Who's this guy hopping up and down?' and sped up and drove away.”

        Mr. Hartong, 41, who has concentrated on dramatic fire-scene photographs in the past, has a 20-by-24-inch print of the rainbow, “ready to frame” for an over-the-mantel spot in his log home in Springfield Township.

        “I won't sign mine,” he said, laughing.

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