Digital Photography: Lessons from a Sun Pillar
According to Wikipedia a light pillar is "a visual phenomenon created by the reflection of light from ice crystals with near horizontal parallel planar surfaces".
If the light comes from the sun, it is called a sun pillar. If you are fortunate enough to see such a phenomenon, it can be quite breathtaking, yet all too brief. The conditions that cause a sun pillar generally persist for only a few minutes, after which the display fades, then disappears.
Wikipedia: Sun Pillar
Human Existence Ephemeral
Aside from the ascetic beauty of this natural display, it also evokes thoughts of the ephemeral nature of human existence. It is a reminder that the unexpected can happen at any moment, and that the unexpectedly beautiful should be appreciated as the fleeting gift that it often is.
Point and Click: A Different Experience
It is ironic that the only way to share such fleeting, natural moments is by means of the most artificial technology. This is the world we live in, the point and click reality of digital photography, of sharing everything, everywhere.
This may alter the real-world, natural experience, but it replaces it with an experience from the world of digital reality, still observable visually, but within the constraints of technology.
The Value of Existence
My sun pillar is long gone. It will never come back, and exists only as a memory, and as the digital image shared on this page. However, it was also evocative, inducing the thoughts set down here, and thus has attained a value beyond the fact of its existence.
For humans this would be a noble aspiration.
Everyone a Photog
It used to be the case that photography was the domain of a few talented specialists. No longer. Now, ubiquitous cameras ensure that everyone is a photographer, everywhere, and statistics guarantee that a great shot will be taken somewhere, by someone.
Digital photography has eliminated the photographic divide. With virtually no cost for unlimited tries, that one special snapshot is bound to occur. With the Internet providing instant access, the masses can instantly decide what is of value.
Whether this is ultimately a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing, remains to be seen. Perhaps if the sun someday sends us a powerful, electron-erasing EMP along with its pillar, we will find out.
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