Sun Pillar

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A sun pillar is a bright column of light which is sometimes seen above the sun just after sunrise or before sunset; occasionally the pillar also extends below the sun. The effect is caused by sunlight reflecting off of ice crystals in the atmosphere, so is most often seen in the colder months. Since the visibility of the pillar critically depends on the angle of the sun and the alignment of the crystals, the phenomenon can be very transitory -- before I could change to a wide-angle lens and take another photo of this pillar, it had vanished!

Date: September 3, 2006
Time: 5:54 a.m. MST
Location: Coconino National Forest, Arizona
Camera: Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR on fixed tripod
Film: Fuji Provia 100 slide
Focal length: 100 mm
Aperture: f/8
Exposure time: 1/15 second
Scanner: Nikon Coolscan LS-2000


Revised: October 21, 2006
Copyright © 2006 Joe Orman
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