This was a tricky shot to take. In the late afternoon the breeze was blowing the mist from the falls so hard that approaching this shot was like walking through a monsoon. Keeping the lens dry was the secret and also looking for the angle to catch the rainbow. The optical properties of air and pure water (like rain) are well understood, and raindrops are nearly always spherical in shape. With a little math (okay, I won’t cover it here), it can be shown that the angle between incoming white sunlight and the outgoing rainbow colors is about 42 degrees. To be more precise, the red light comes out at 42 degrees and blue light comes out at 40 degrees. This is true anywhere the sunlight hits raindrops, not just where we see the colorful arc.
The Ahwahneechee tribe believed that Bridalveil Fall was home to a vengeful spirit named Pohono which guarded the entrance to the valley, and that those leaving the valley must not look directly into the waterfall lest they be cursed. They also believed that inhaling the mist of Bridalveil Fall would improve one’s chances of marriage.
Bridalveil Fall is 188 metres (617 ft) and flows year round. The glaciers that carved Yosemite Valley left many hanging valleys which spawned the waterfalls that pour into the valley. All of the waterways that fed these falls carved the hanging valleys into steep cascades with the exception of Bridalveil Fall. Bridalveil still leaps into the valley from the edge of the precipice, although that edge has moved back into an alcove from the original edge of the valley.
When the wind blows briskly, the waterfall will appear to be falling sideways. During lesser water flow, the falls often don’t reach the ground. Because of this, the Ahwahneechee called this waterfall Pohono, which means Spirit of the Puffing Wind. www.kerstenbeck.com